Sunday, February 14, 2010

Cheney Exposes Torture Conspiracy

By Robert Parry
February 14, 2010

If the United States had a functioning criminal justice system for the powerful – not just for run-of-the-mill offenders – former Vice President Dick Cheney would have convicted himself and some of his Bush administration colleagues with his comments on ABC’s “This Week.”

Read on.


Anonymous said...

Why isn't this guy in jail. If anyone needed to be tried for treason it is he. They can spend millions trying to impeach Clinton (not that I cared that much for him)and then allow this guy to slide with crimes for which the impeachment laws were written.

Helen F said...

I agree with Anonymous who asked why Cheney isn't in jail for treason. But I also wonder at continually giving him the soap box. He's out now and what he has to say has no merit but we continually give him the bully pulpit to spread his extraordinary views of torture. Why?

JoanE said...

I am so sick of Bush and Cheney and the devastation they wrought on the country and the world with their greedy, unAmerican policies. Tony Soprano would be in jail bribing and threatening judges and congressmen. But these people thrive because they have the "law" on their side -- the "law" they helped write or put the squeeze on to suit themselves. The whole lot of them are corrupt and disgusting and should be in jail somewhere. Are Americans just beyond outrage anymore, or do they not know their civics lessons?

Anonymous said...

I would like to see a talk show host ask Cheney if he was willing to face the Gallows for his part in these tortures.
'Cause that is the only way to get rid of scum like him.
We the people have to take back the rule of Government

Anonymous said...

Can't this country do the right thing? Is it impossible for the DOJ, the President or a political party to start undoing the mistakes, injustices and lies of the last nine years? What values do these people have, and why do they differ so greatly from so many across the globe. America is wrong, fix it.

Anonymous said...

What do you expect from such a bloated bag of toxic chicken-hawk shit. And Obama, just another smart arse apologist lackey for the corporate elite thats sold the US down the GURGLER.

Bill from Saginaw said...

Part and parcel of the whole fabricated defense to possible criminal prosecution for making torture official US government policy from 2001-2008 is the claim that in late 2002 waterboarding was stopped, over VP Dick Cheney's vociferous, behind-closed-doors objection. There were supposedly thus only 3 prominent victims of waterboarding, Khalid Sheik Mohammed being the most infamous.

The significance of this official Bush/Cheney era narrative - that for just a few months in the near aftermath of 9/11 waterboarding took place, but then was stopped - is that it not only dovetails neatly into the partisan rhetoric about how the system "self-corrected" itself to conform with international legal standards, but it's all past history now. Time to turn the page and look forward towards the future, without bothering further to ever read the page.

If you buy the time line of the Bushies' revisionist history, the statute of limitations upon potential criminal prosecution for condoning or taking active part in torture has now arguably run out. Even if Attorney General Eric Holder decided now to try to take the specifics in front of a federal grand jury, today it would probably be too late for federal prosecutors to procure viable indictments.

I strongly doubt if torture - later rebranded as "enhanced interrogation techniques" - ever did stop. But whatever records might exist of course remain securely in the control of those with the greatest stake in keeping the official cover story intact.

Bill from Saginaw

Sanpete said...

There are some points in your report that aren't true, and some key points are overlooked.

First, it's stated that "Cheney acknowledged that the White House had told the Justice Department lawyers what legal opinions to render." Cheney didn't say that. What he did say isn't clear as to who did what they were asked to do (the most natural referent in context is those who did the interrogations) or what they were asked to do. To pretend the meaning was clear misrepresents the fact.

Even if Yoo et al were told to fashion opinions supporting a desired outcome and did so in "collusion" with Cheney and others, which seems likely enough based on evidence other than Cheney's murky remark, it doesn't follow that the advice was done in bad faith. It can still be reasonable, good faith advice.

Second, you say, "The Yoo-Bybee legal opinion stated that unless the amount of pain administered to a detainee led to injuries that might result in "death, organ failure, or serious impairment of body functions" then the interrogation technique could not be defined as torture." Actually, the standard they used isn't that the pain must cause such injuries but that it must be equivalent to the pain of such injuries. (Maybe that's what you meant to say.)

That isn't the only standard, in any case. It applies only to physical pain or suffering. According to the memos, and following the law, a technique could be torture without causing any physical pain at all. In regard to the most controversial technique, waterboarding, the argument in the memos is that any significant pain or suffering caused isn't physical but rather mental, from a reflexive sensation rather than a physical injury, so they don't rely on the standard quoted above in regard to waterboarding. They instead key on the part of the law that governs mental harm, finding that waterboarding done within certain constraints doesn't cause prolonged mental suffering.

Third, you opine, "That Cheney feels he can operate with such impunity is a damning commentary on the rule of law in the United States, at least when it comes to the nation’s elites." Actually, it may show that the rule of law is intact, in that many would love to lynch Cheney, regardless of the law. It may also show that the law itself is defective.

Essentially, the lawyers appear to have discovered and exploited problems with the way torture is defined in US law, as an act intended to cause certain kinds of harm that the Administration was then able to argue they were taking proper precautions not to cause. It would be very difficult to prove both that such harm was caused and that they didn't have a reasonable good-faith belief that they weren't causing such harm. I don't think there's a good case against Cheney et al under the law as written.