Former vice-president Dick Cheney has recently come out of hiding and brought on a mystifying defense of early Bush administration policy justifying torture on anyone deemed a suspected terrorist. Further, Cheney claims that by unequivocally denouncing torture and authorizing the closure of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba , the newly elected Obama administration has left the country less safe.
If it is true concern for the safety of all Americans, some gnawing bit of humanity, or grand conceit that forces him into the sunlight, I certainly cannot say. Nonetheless, bereft of a covert position to wield power, he is forced to come down the mountain of his own delusion of greatness in order to whip up a climate of fear, portending national tragedy unless we pursue a course of policy codifying the worst human tendencies for vengeance, cruelty, and barbarism.
Early after the attacks of 9/11, Cheney told reporters that finding the perpetrators of the attack would require a strategy of “operating on the dark side.”
In his grand delusion he has become consumed by the “dark side.”
Until now, Cheney has been an enigma. A slightly out-of-focus face standing behind the sharp glare of attention focused on George Bush. A menacing scowl adding weight to the former president’s often incoherent words. Without the cover of Bush, Cheney is forced into the open to make his own disquieting case as more truth into the nature and extent of the use of torture begins to see the light of day.
His assertions that what was done was not only necessary but also legal, despite clear national and international law to the contrary, play into a veil of fear and our own private tendency to “the dark side.”
Cross me, my friends, family, and loved ones, and I will, for a brief moment at least, wish upon someone to pay – dearly. I may even wish them dead. That gives me no right to wreak my own vengeance as I see fit. Greatness is never achieved in so doing. I become sullied by the very evil I wish to vanquish.
This must be true for nations just as it is for individuals. In the end it is one person torturing another, and no twisting legal logic laid out in a memo euphemizing torture as “enhanced interrogation” changes that. If we are a nation of laws, founded on ideals of basic humanity, the only real proof of that will come from our actions.
Dick Cheney is a man who lost his moral bearing years ago. For so many important issues facing the country this decade he has been wrong at best and deceitful at worst. There was no connection between al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, no WMD’s, the insurgents were not in their “last throes” in 2005, that was a man’s face – not quail, we did torture. Why much credence should be given to anything he says now is the mystifying part of his resurgence into the public spotlight. He is incompetent in his analysis, conceived with a skewed worldview he feels should be bullied into weaker intellectual mortals than himself – “enhanced rhetoric”, if you will, that is tantamount to psychic torture of a nation.
If terrorists seek comfort in the actions of American policy and leadership, they will find it in a man who would damage the soul of a nation in order to assert a false sense of security that rests in fear mongering and retribution.
Is evil required to defeat evil? That’s a question I can’t answer. I am not convinced humanity has ever really given the alternative a chance. There seems the ever-present risk, as in the case of Dick Cheney, of becoming consumed by that which you seek to exterminate.
It truly isn’t about the terrorists but about us. Evil exists. We must therefore strive not to be evil.