Thursday, May 14, 2009
Cheney on Torture
I suggest listening to this news program and the Cheney interview video at:
Here's what I did as a result of hearing this. You can decide for yourself what you do.
When I listened to this, I started (and am still) thinking about the implications all of this has on our country.
It raised questions for me like....
....What does this say about a populace who elects - and even more painfully, about those who continue to support - leaders like Cheney?
....What does it say about a political party and, with apologies, about those who support that party if he's considered one of its leaders?
....What does his position on torture say about him and those who agree with him as human beings?
....What does this do to the legitimacy and aspirations of his political party as the self-proclaimed standard bearer of such noble ideals as family values and big tent politics?
....What affects will we see happen to our collective morals and on our laws from even having a debate about the merits of torture?
....What is all of this politicization of torture having on our self-image as a society, as well as the view the rest of the world has about our legitimacy as a global economic, social, moral and political power?
Here's how what I see as Cheney's strategy for now being front-and-center.
He wants to.....
....try to rewrite history in order to protect his own legacy and the legacy of the last 8 years
(I believe it's way too late for that.)
He wants to.....
....try to frame the current discussion in terms of some perverse return on investment for torture
(As if America can do whatever it likes, including torture, if that's what it was and even though it's illegal, because of what we supposedly learned and can learn in the future about threats to America.)
He wants to.....
....do what he can to try and protect himself from prosecution
(I think and hope that his actions now will actually serve just the opposite purpose and help to secure a conviction for a crime which I personally believe he's guilty of committing.)
He wants to.....
....move the Republican party even further to the extreme right by saying things like Rush represents the Republican party more so than Collin Powell
(I think anyone who is a Republican should be very concerned politically about this one. If you're not careful, the party is going to be left with nothing but angry Bible thumpers and fliers of the Stars and Bars being led around by their collective noses by the wealthy oligarchy, present company excluded, of course.)
All of Cheney's words and deeds just reinforce my belief that he's completely out of touch with thoughtful, ordinary citizens. Frankly, I think he's one of the most reprehensible human beings ever to have walked the planet and unquestionably walking the planet today. He is, in my opinion, totally absent of the slightest shred of legitimacy as a leader and is the absolute epitome - along with people like Limbaugh, Rove, and yes, bin Laden - of an ugly political creature intent on self-preservation and power usurpation based solely on the fomentation of hatred and division.
He and his junior running mate, W, tricked this country twice. (Well, "stole" elections by some accounts.) We really shouldn't let him or them trick us again.
I think it's time for us as a democratic citizenry to rise up and to admit that we made a mistake electing him and W to 2 terms (if you can call them elections) and that those elected leaders, intentionally or unintentionally, may have violated laws. (It's ok to admit mistakes were made. I was once totally pro-business and leaned to the right on economic and fiscal policy issues. Life has changed my mind about a great many things, and I regret the mistakes I have made in the past like voting twice for Ross Perot.)
When it comes to the question of the legalities of policy and torture we need to let - hell, demand - that Congress and the courts investigate and decide the matter.
Cheney has publicly admitted to authorizing procedures which, by many definitions, are torture. It's time for a sincere and complete investigation into what he and others in the Bush administration did when it came to policy decisions about interrogation techniques and if any of them can be considered to be torture.
My own personal opinion about the "ROI" arguments Cheney or anyone else thinks can be made are absolutely without merit. They are a dodge; a red herring; an attempt to reframe the discussion in order to obfuscate us about the fact that torture is illegal no matter what the outcome.
Certainly I'm no legal expert, but it seems to me the way our society determines guilt or innocence is to first determine if suspicions and facts warrant investigations. I think they do in this case. If the investigation leads somewhere, courts have to be petitioned to issue subpoenas. People are questioned. Warrants for arrest are issued if it appears someone has committed a crime. We assume innocence first and give the accused their day in court - something we as Americans I think like to call habeas corpus but which the Bush administration denied to citizen and non-citizen alike whenever it suited them. If the prosecution convinces a judge and/or jury of the guilt of the accused - and in this case, regrettably, that is likely to include a re-examination of the definition of torture, but so be it - then those who authorized and committed the crime need to be punished.
So, if Cheney is so convinced that he and the administration are innocent of the crime of torture, then he should embrace - even demand - that an investigation begin to clear him and his compatriots of even the slightest hint of guilt. This notion of releasing memos about the value of torture is just another dodge. He's trying to make the "torture ROI" argument. Go ahead and release them, I say. I expect that rational people will look at them and conclude that we did, indeed, commit torture and that torture can never be justified by a peaceful and civil society regardless of the intelligence that is claimed to have been extracted.
What we as human beings - and especially as Americans - cannot and should not condone or tolerate is whether the "torture ROI" justified any decisions or actions if they are determined to be torture. That's like saying I'm innocent of the crime of bank robbery because I used the money to feed my kids. Bank robbery is still a crime no matter how supposedly noble the intent or desired outcomes.
Now Cheney and his supporters want to have a debate about the MERITS of torture?!?!?
Talk about relativism!!! Watch out you Republicans - it's starting to look like you're losing your moral compass and abandoning the black-and-white-right-and-wrong view of the world! ;-)
"For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie - deliberate, contrived and dishonest - but the myth - persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic."
John F. Kennedy, Yale Commencement address, 1962 (http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/JFK/003POF03Yale06111962.htm)