Overlooked in the frothing about Dick Cheney’s interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl is a simple truth. Shotgun Dick, Darth Vadar, The Man Who Never Was, Richard Bruce Cheney confessed freely and openly to committing war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Vice President who spent eight years avoiding interviews used what may be his last one in office to admit being the Hermann Göring of the Bush administration.
Hopefully, Karl or his field producer read Cheney his Miranda rights before rolling tape to make things so much simpler should he ever get hauled before the International Criminal Court.
Cheney was shoving our noses in it, daring us to do something about his confession. In fact, Will Bunch writing in the Philadelphia Daily News wonders aloud whether he “is some kind of sociopath, or has some psychological desire to get caught.”
There was something sinister and otherworldly about the interview. Cheney sits with his trademark “You’re a worthless toad and I could have you drawn and quartered” half-smirk on his face while defending lying the US into an illegal invasion that killed, maimed or injured more than one million Iraqi’s, and torturing prisoners – many of whom commited no crime whatsoever. As Cheney speaks, Karl looks nervous and unsettled, almost like he’s expecting Blackwater mercenaries to burst in and drag him off to GITMO for a quick round on the waterboard.
Would anyone like to help me pay for printing the wanted posters?
Cheney’s own words should condemn him to spend the rest of his life in prison, whether in the US at some place such as Danbury – which is unlikely – or at Scheveningen Prison where the ICC sends convicted war criminals at The Hague:
“It’s a very, very important capability. It is legal. It was legal from the very beginning. It is constitutional. To claim that it isn’t, I think is just wrong.
“On the question of so-called torture … we proceeded very cautiously. We checked. We had the Justice Department issue the requisite opinions in order to know where the bright lines were that you could not cross.
“I was aware of the (torture) program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.”
There it is: Dick Cheney confesses that he supported torture – excuse me, “enhanced interrogation techniques” – contravening not just American ideals and morals but US law, international treaties to which the nation is a signatoree and countless war crime precedents. Remember that, after World War II, the US and its allies prosecuted Japanese civilian and military leaders for waterboarding prisoners.
Moral Courage Needed
The question no longer is whether war crimes were committed by the administration in Iraq and Afghanistan; Cheney said they did and he’d do it the same way all over again. It is whether the Obama administration will have the moral courage and political will to investigate the massive wrongdoing by the outgoing administration, and then either prosecute here or turn Bush and his henchmen over to the ICC. Unfortunately, Congressional Democrats are talking about establishing some sort of “Truth and Reconciliation” commission that would reveal all but prosecute none.
Oh, and by the way, the so-called “the requisite opinions in order to know where the bright lines were that you could not cross” came from the tortured wording of the torture memos written by John Yoo at Cheney’s insistence. In effect, the Veep is saying, “Torture is legal ‘cause I made a guy at Justice who was thinking more about his career in the administration than he was what the law actually says so I didn’t do anything illegal because the lackey under my thumb says I didn’t.”
Cheney should rent Judgement at Nuremberg to remind himself how weak a defence his line of reasoning actually is, and how swiftly a tribunal says “No dice” when Maximilian Schell uses it to defend Burt Lancaster’s Dr. Ernst Janning.
Forty years after Vietnam, scars from that illegal war remain etched in America’s psyche because the country turned away from its own history, pretending it never happened. The result was not only a bitter, lasting taste in the nation’s mouth but led to the Iraq and Afghanistan morass.
The only way to cleanse our national soul, restore our moral position in the world, and help ensure another Bush and Cheney never again rule this vaunted nation is to reveal in open court exactly what they did to us, to the Iraqi and Afghan people, and to the world. The investigation cannot begin soon enough.
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