Former Vice President and potential future war crimes defendant Dick Cheney was back in the news this week, once again preemptively setting out his defense strategy in the rare instance he is actually brought to justice for the abrogations of national and international laws against torture and inhumane treatment. He stated that Attorney General Eric Holder's naming of a special prosecutor to investigate instances of mistreatment of prisoners in American custody. It should be noted that the inquiry is to be limited to instances where the persons conducting the interrogations went beyond the guidelines approved by the Department of Justice.
Dick Cheney's various defenses were as follows:
1) "The Justice Department reviewed all those allegations several years ago."
Apparently, the irony of a politically compromised Department of Justice investigating its bosses is lost on Mr. Cheney. Or was he referring to the various, and Constitutionally dubious, legal opinions of John "Anything You Want" Yoo? It is also a compromised argument as former AG Alberto Gonzalez has just stated that Mr. Holder was doing the right thing in moving forward with this investigation.
2) That American lives were saved.
As I have said ad nauseum in prior posts, efficacy of torture is no defense. In fact, this is a rather disgusting defense, as it is entirely false. Torturing prisoners in our custody hurts American interests, and Americans individually, in the long run. By acting immorally we lose our moral authority, and become yet another nation of barbarians, just like the barbarians we are trying to bring to justice. Our natural allies are less inclined to assist us as we become alienated from them, while causing our enemies to hate us all the more. But Mr. Cheney's myopia or arrogance does not allow him to see this.
It is also untrue. It is an unassailable fact that no actionable intelligence of credible threats were disclosed by any prisoners who were tortured, and rather conventional techniques proved to work far better. The fact the Khalid Sheik Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times is proof that it did not work. If waterboarding did work, I am sure that the number of times KSM was waterboarded would have been somewhere south of 100. Or ten.
It is also logically fallacious, in addition to factually fallacious, that this was the right course of action because there was no other attacks on the United States. But there was Madrid, London, Bali, and over 4,000 dead servicemen in Iraq. And this argument relies on opponents of having to prove a negative. There was also no second Hurricane Katrina, but Mr. Cheney cannot take credit for that.
It should be noted that Mr. Cheney even went so far as to stand by officers and contractors who went beyond the rules approved by the Justice Department. Why would he stand by clear criminal acts? The only reason I can discern is to throw his considerable weight behind them before they are indicted in case they might consider turning State's evidence.
3) The inquiry is "intensely partisan."
Ummm, President Obama does not want this. Diane Feinstein does not want this. Harry Reid does not want this. Nancy Pelosi does not want this. They want to move beyond this, and concentrate on health care reform. Further, none of them want to assist Dick Cheney in the Cyclopean effort to make him into a sympathetic figure.
And there is a double irony in Mr. Cheney's statement: a) it was on Fox News, ['nuff said], and b) his was the most intensely partisan administration in modern history. See: Tom Ridge and his half hearted confession of raising the terrorist threat levels days before the 2004 election for no discernible reason but for political considerations.
However, let this be known: I am unconcerned about the political considerations of the Democratic White House or Congress. Laws were broken, serious laws, and legal comeuppance is required, no matter the convenience. Politicians and bureaucrats and officials and contractors must be forewarned that they will pay a price for their cavalier attitudes towards our laws, and not even the highest officers in the land are to be spared the sword of Lady Justice should her blind scales tip away from them and towards the felonious.
All Mr. Cheney's ado, if this is about nothing, then begs the question: what is he getting at? If everything that occurred under his watch was all hunky-dory, why continue to speak out in his own defense preemptively? Public opinion has zero bearing on whether American laws were broken, and rather, bad actors can tell a jury their sympathetic defense of "keeping Americans safe" and see if they agree. So what is Dick Cheney afraid of?
And allow me to be clear: I don't want the Lindsay Englands of the CIA or private contractors to pay the price alone. I want the higher ups who gave the order.
As I said - maybe they should consider turning State's evidence.