Every time I see former Vice-President Dick Cheney interviewed on any news program, national or otherwise, I think to myself, ‘Why is this man here and not facing a war crimes tribunal?’ Cheney made a remark during an interview with Jonathan Karl Sunday on ABC’s This Week, a remark made almost in passing, that once again brought that question to mind:
KARL: Did you more often win or lose those battles, especially as you got to the second term?
CHENEY: Well, I suppose it depends on which battle you’re talking about. I won some; I lost some. I can’t…
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?
It never ceases to amaze me, although it’s not the first time it has happened and undoubtedly won’t be the last, that a former vice-president of the United States of America can openly and brazenly confess to something which the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Convention Against Torture recognize as torture, something for which members of the Japanese military were punished after World War II. Torture, a punishable offense under U.S. Code 2340A by imprisonment or death. And he can do so without any fear of reprisal, thanks to the ‘look forward, not back’ policy of the Obama administration.
Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Dish calls on Attorney General Eric Holder to take action or be considered an accessory, also a punishable offense:
“…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.
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.”
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.