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Dick Cheney as Torturer in Chief

The good news is that White House and Pentagon officials are deserting Cheney in droves. The bad news is, as most of us suspected, he is the Torturer in Chief.

Cheney's camp says the United States does not torture captives, but believes the president needs nearly unfettered power to deal with terrorists to protect Americans. To preserve the president's flexibility, any measure that might impose constraints should be resisted. That is why the administration has recoiled from embracing the language of treaties such as the U.N. Convention Against Torture, which Cheney's aides find vague and open-ended.

It's now Cheney and Addington vs. the detainees:

On Tuesday, Cheney, who often attends the GOP senators' weekly luncheons without addressing the lawmakers, made "an impassioned plea" to reject McCain's [anti-torture]amendment, said a senatorial aide who was briefed on the meeting and spoke on the condition of anonymity because of its closed nature. After Senate aides were ordered out of the Mansfield Room, just steps from the Senate chamber, Cheney said that aggressive interrogations of detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed had yielded useful information, and that the option to treat prisoners harshly must not be taken from interrogators.

How do we know Cheney is in the Administration doghouse?

Increasingly, however, Cheney's positions are being opposed by other administration officials, including Cabinet members, political appointees and Republican lawmakers who once stood firmly behind the administration on all matters concerning terrorism.

Personnel changes in President Bush's second term have added to the isolation of Cheney, who previously had been able to prevail in part because other key parties to the debate -- including Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales and White House counsel Harriet Miers -- continued to sit on the fence.

And, now it's Dick Cheney vs. Condi Rice:

Rice has emerged as an advocate for changing the rules to "get out of the detainee mess," said one senior U.S. official familiar with discussions. Her top advisers, along with their Pentagon counterparts, are working on a package of proposals designed to address all controversial detainee issues at once, instead of dealing with them on a piecemeal basis.

Cheney's camp is a "shrinking island," said one State Department official who, like other administration officials quoted in this article, asked not to be identified because public dissent is strongly discouraged by the White House.

How invested is Condi Rice in beating down Cheney?

Cheney's staff is also engaged in resisting a policy change. Tactics included "trying to have meetings canceled ... to at least slow things down or gum up the works" or trying to conduct meetings on the subject without other key Cabinet members, one administration official said. The official said some internal memos and e-mail from the National Security Council staff to the national security adviser were automatically forwarded to the vice president's office -- in some cases without the knowledge of the authors.

For that reason, Rice "wanted to be in all meetings," said a senior State Department official.

Dick Cheney has lost his power. The Administration sees the writing on the wall. My prediction: Dick Cheney will become the public symbol of the errors of the Bush Administration in taking us to war. He will be the poster boy for abuses that occurred in Abu Ghraib and that continue at Guantanamo. In the not too distant future, when politicians try to take away fundamental freedoms, people will say, "Remember Dick Cheney."

As Laura Rozen of War and Piece puts it:

If [Cheney] had been supporting the very same policies he is now advocating while representing a regime like Serbia's, the big man would be in a Hague jail cell. The same support for torture. The same naked contempt for democratic processes. The same contempt for law. The same contempt for their people.

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    Re: Dick Cheney as Torturer in Chief (none / 0) (#1)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:46 PM EST
    This was not an article about Cheney. This was about positioning Rice as a presidential candidate, making her sound like the voice of moderation and reason, as opposed to those wacky Democrats.

    Re: Dick Cheney as Torturer in Chief (none / 0) (#2)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:46 PM EST
    and far right Republicans, too, of course.

    Re: Dick Cheney as Torturer in Chief (none / 0) (#3)
    by Sailor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:46 PM EST
    The official said some internal memos and e-mail from the National Security Council staff to the national security adviser were automatically forwarded to the vice president's office -- in some cases without the knowledge of the authors.
    Anyone else think that sounds like a crime?

    Re: Dick Cheney as Torturer in Chief (none / 0) (#4)
    by Talkleft Visitor on Sat Dec 17, 2005 at 01:05:49 PM EST
    "Cheney's camp...believes the president needs nearly unfettered power to deal with: terrorists to protect Americans." competitors to US corporations. popular government. popular rebellion opposing an illegal invasion. unsecured resources and money. families and friends of political or business opponents. Cheney is a terorist.