Monday, February 15, 2010

Admission of Guilt

Dick Cheney was very clear what his position on waterboarding is. The problem is most sane people see this as torture.

He said this in an interview yesterday.

KARL: ... waterboarding, clearly, what was your...

CHENEY: I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques that...

KARL: And you opposed the administration's actions of doing away with waterboarding?


Andrew Sullivan of the Daily Dish makes some pretty clear points about this subject, as well as the blatant disregard our former Vice President has for the rule of law.

First a note from Wikipedia.

Waterboarding is a torture technique that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards; water is then poured over the face into breathing passages, causing the captive to believe he or she is dying.[1][2] In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, waterboarding precipitates an almost immediate gag reflex.[3] It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, if uninterrupted, death.[4] Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.[5] The term waterboarding was coined in 2004.[6]

Sullivan in his own words.

So the former vice-president has just confessed to a war crime. I repeat: the former vice-president has just confessed to a war crime.

The question is therefore not if, but when, he is convicted as a war criminal - in his lifetime or posthumously.

In fact, the attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution.

These are not my opinions and they are not hyperbole. They are legal facts. Either this country is governed by the rule of law or it isn't. Cheney's clear admission of his central role in authorizing waterboarding and the clear evidence that such waterboarding did indeed take place means that prosecution must proceed.

Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.

Sullivan is right, and Cheney's policies and torture practices are no different from that of the Vietcong during the Vietnam war, or more recently the actions of war criminals in Rwanda, and Yugoslavia, which were investigated by the UN.

For those of you who believe in this policy, I have some questions. Why? What is gained from this policy? Who is safer because of it? Do you really believe that torturing a war criminal is the answer to protecting our nation from terrorists? What does your America look like? A nation on a hill, or a nation that the laws of man do not apply?

We are better than this.

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