Cheney opposes an inquiry into CIA tortureIt’s no surprise that former Vice President Dick Cheney is opposed to the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the torture of prisoners during the Bush-Cheney administration. After all, Cheney has acknowledged that he was “aware” of waterboarding (simulated drowning) of detainees to get them to talk.
By: Helen Thomas, Hearst Newspapers, The Jamestown Sun
WASHINGTON — It’s no surprise that former Vice President Dick Cheney is opposed to the Justice Department’s decision to investigate the torture of prisoners during the Bush-Cheney administration.
After all, Cheney has acknowledged that he was “aware” of waterboarding (simulated drowning) of detainees to get them to talk.
It’s fair speculation that the orders for this method of torture came from on high. And in the Bush-Cheney administration, no one was higher than the vice president.
Cheney has blasted Attorney General Eric Holder’s appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate abuse of prisoners. The duty fell to veteran Connecticut lawyer John H. Durham, who is already probing the CIA’s destruction of interrogation videotapes.
“As attorney general, my duty is to examine the facts and to follow the law,” Holder said. “Given all of the information currently available, it is clear to me that this review is the only responsible course of action for me to take.”
Mr. Durham, meet Mr. Cheney.
President Barack Obama would have preferred to skip any autopsy of his predecessor’s administration, insisting that he did not want to “look back” but only to “look forward.”
But not to worry — neither Cheney nor former President George W. Bush will be held accountable for violations of national and international law or for tarnishing America’s reputation for just plain decency in dealing with prisoners. (The use of waterboarding was prevalent during the reign of terror designed by Spanish Inquisitor Tomas de Torquemada. Are we now in the same class as torturers of that ilk?)
If the inquiry into the CIA and its contractors goes according to past patterns, only lower-ranking folks will catch flak. Take, for example, the Abu Ghraib prison scandal. That ended with soldiers getting jailed for their sadistic abuses, but their superiors never faced a court-martial.
The latest revelations of CIA atrocities against prisoners — as revealed in a heavily censored 2004 report — includes threats against a blindfolded man, the firing of a gun near a detainee, the choking of a prisoner, slamming prisoners against walls, staging mock executions and threatening to assault or kill the families of prisoners during interrogations. Are we talking about America?
In a recent interview on Fox News, Cheney said the Obama administration is “setting a terrible precedent” and playing politics by examining the behavior of the Bush-Cheney administration.
“I think it’s an outrageous political act and will do great damage, long term, to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say,” Cheney said.
Gosh, the former vice president sure got that right. If future administrations engage in immoral and abusive acts, they should be held accountable. That very thought could be a deterrent to any future criminal activities performed in our name.
When he was in office, Cheney had no qualms about interfering with government departments and agencies. The politicization of the Justice Department was well-known in his era.
He had a resilient supporter in the person of Michael Mukasey — the last attorney general in the Bush-Cheney administration, who said he found waterboarding “repugnant” but couldn’t decide whether it was “torture.”
Cheney has become the self-appointed attack-dog defender of Bush administration tactics. He tries to justify torture and the abusive treatment of captives on the ground that there have been no terrorist bombings on U.S. soil since the 9/11 al-Qaida attack.
He has a rich imagination when it comes to explaining cause and effect, but manages to slide past the legacy of the Bush-Cheney administration: Thousands of Americans have died in Iraq, which had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.
(Helen Thomas can be reached at 202-263-6400 or at the e-mail address hthomas@ hearstdc.com).
(c) 2009 Hearst Newspapers
Distributed by King Features Syndicate