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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.
Is waterboarding torture? How about “walling” (throwing someone into a wall), or putting insects inside a “confinement box” with someone afraid of insects?
If so, and if charges are ever brought against anyone involved in committing torture, the Obama administration has announced they will be defended by government attorneys.
Four Bush-era memos defending torture where released yesterday, the full text of these memos is available here (pdf).
Following is a statement from the Deparment of Justice:
In connection with ongoing litigation, the Department of Justice today released four previously undisclosed Office of Legal Counsel (“OLC”) opinions – one that OLC issued to the Central Intelligence Agency in August 2002 and three that OLC issued to the CIA in May 2005.
“The President has halted the use of the interrogation techniques described in these opinions, and this administration has made clear from day one that it will not condone torture,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are disclosing these memos consistent with our commitment to the rule of law.”
Holder also stressed that intelligence community officials who acted reasonably and relied in good faith on authoritative legal advice from the Justice Department that their conduct was lawful, and conformed their conduct to that advice, would not face federal prosecutions for that conduct.
The Attorney General has informed the Central Intelligence Agency that the government would provide legal representation to any employee, at no cost to the employee, in any state or federal judicial or administrative proceeding brought against the employee based on such conduct and would take measures to respond to any proceeding initiated against the employee in any international or foreign tribunal, including appointing counsel to act on the employee’s behalf and asserting any available immunities and other defenses in the proceeding itself.
To the extent permissible under federal law, the government will also indemnify any employee for any monetary judgment or penalty ultimately imposed against him for such conduct and will provide representation in congressional investigations.
“It would be unfair to prosecute dedicated men and women working to protect America for conduct that was sanctioned in advance by the Justice Department,” Holder said.
After reviewing these opinions, OLC has decided to withdraw them: They no longer represent the views of the Office of Legal Counsel.