Open Thread: Darth Cheney, Fictioneer


(Jim Morin via GoComics.com)

Conor Friedersdorf at the Atlantic has a pretty good thumbnail summary Remembering Why Americans Loathe Dick Cheney: the Iraq war, torture, Halliburton, Ahmed Chalabi, unlimited detention of the innocent, his radical view of executive power, etc. Colin Powell’s former chief of staff, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, sniffs about Cheney’s “cheap shots”:

“I think he’s just trying to, one, assert himself so he’s not in some subsequent time period tried for war crimes and, second, so that he somehow vindicates himself because he feels like he needs vindication. That in itself tells you something about him,” Wilkerson told ABC News, explaining that Cheney may have “angst” because of receiving deferments instead of serving in the Vietnam War like Wilkerson and others in the administration.
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“He’s developed an angst and almost a protective cover, and now he fears being tried as a war criminal so he uses such terminology as ‘exploding heads all over Washington’ because that’s the way someone who’s decided he’s not going to be prosecuted acts: boldly, let’s get out in front of everybody, let’s act like we are not concerned and so forth when in fact they are covering up their own fear that somebody will Pinochet him,” Wilkerson said alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes.

(via)
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But IMO the most significant review so far is Dahlia Lithwick at Slate dissecting Cheney Getting Away With Torture:

This week Dick Cheney invites us all to join him again in a game he likes to play against the rest of us called Tedious Torture Standoff. He continues to assert—this time in his memoir, In My Time—that he has “no regrets” about developing the U.S. torture program, and he continues to argue—as he did this morning on the Today Show—that torturing prisoners is “safe, legal, and effective.” He continues to assert that he would “strongly support” water-boarding if actionable information could be elicited from a prisoner. He even says that different standards apply to torturing Americans and foreigners. Cheney is trying, in short, to draw us back into the same tiresome debate over the efficacy of torture, which is about as compelling as a debate about the efficacy of slavery or Jim Crow laws. Only fools debate whether patently illegal programs “work”—only fools or those who have been legally implicated in designing the programs in the first place…
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It’s currently fashionable to believe that political and ideological battles are “real,” and it is the law that is empty symbolism. But Cheney stands as an illustration of the real-life, practical value of the law. Torture really did become legal after 9/11, and even after it was repudiated—again and again—it will always be legal with regard to Dick Cheney and the others who perpetrated it without consequence. The law wasn’t a hollow symbol after 9/11. It was the only fixed system we had. We can go on pretending that torture is no longer permissible in this country or under international law, but until there are legal consequences for those who order or engage in torture, we will only be pretending. Cheney is the beneficiary of that artifice…
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The tragedy is that it doesn’t matter if we are all Cheneyites now. That there is even one Cheney is enough. He understands and benefits from the fact that the law is still all on his side; that there is only heated rhetoric on ours. As John Adams famously put it, the United States was intended to be a government of laws, not of men. Dick Cheney is living proof that if we are not brave enough to enforce our laws, we will forever be at the mercy of a handful of men.


(Jack Ohman via GoComics.com)

102 replies
  1. 1
    geg6 says:

    The biggest disappointment that I have with Obama is this. And Dahlia is 100% correct.

  2. 2
    Jamie says:

    Don’t worry, be happy!

  3. 3
    greennotGreen says:

    And there’s one more reason the Republicans can’t afford to lose the White House in 2012. In a second term, Obama may discover that his Justice Department has sufficient evidence to indict Bush/Cheney for war crimes, or at least let them be extradited by the international court.

  4. 4
    Rosalita says:

    As John Adams famously put it, the United States was intended to be a government of laws, not of men. Dick Cheney is living proof that if we are not brave enough to enforce our laws, we will forever be at the mercy of a handful of men.

    This

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    After WWII, we put Germans and Japanese to death for what Dick Cheney did.

  6. 6
    The Dangerman says:

    @greennotGreen:

    Obama may discover that his Justice Department has sufficient evidence to indict Bush/Cheney for war crimes…

    Your lips, God’s ears, etc.

    I suspect he will also need the House to flip, else, seconds after anything happens to Bush or Cheney, a Republican House would impeach Obama. I suppose Obama could have done something in the first 2 years, but solving the (still unsolved) economic morass had to take precedence. Crimes without SOL’s can wait…

  7. 7
    TheEric says:

    Green, may you be right.

  8. 8
    Dennis SGMM says:

    Obama, with his mantra of “looking forward, not backwards,” succeeded in insulating the shadiest administration since that of R.M. Nixon from prosecution. It’s official; no matter what egregiously illegal acts are committed by one administration, they shall not be prosecuted, or even brought to light, by a subsequent one.

  9. 9
    MattF says:

    I’m finding it hard to get outraged about Cheney, it’s that bang-head-against-wall problem. But it is a reminder about how bad Bush/Cheney was, just in case anyone’s forgotten.

  10. 10
    cleek says:

    As John Adams famously put it, the United States was intended to be a government of laws, not of men.

    John Adams was a delusional dreamer.

  11. 11
    cleek says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    It’s official; no matter what egregiously illegal acts are committed by one administration, they shall not be prosecuted, or even brought to light, by a subsequent one.

    has one administration ever prosecuted a previous administration?

  12. 12

    Happy September, folks.

    Remember, justice is merely what we aspire to. We can hope for more justice today than we had yesterday and we can even work for more justice today. But it might be a mistake to actively expect justice.

    Bad people get away with less than they used to. We are slowly making progress. What’s the phrase, the arc of history? But we aren’t there yet.

    Cheney deserves a big comeuppance. Not going to happen, though.

  13. 13
    Halteclere says:

    I just completed a book about the rise of some fascist regime in central Europe about 80 years ago (being vague in a nod to Godwin). The overarching point was that this fascist group was intent on destroying that country’s government, but used the rule of law as a fig leaf to cover their illegal activities and unsurping of power.

    Those on the democratic left tried to stop this group by relying on the rule of law and working within the political system. But when the rule of law was being twisted and when the political system was being dismantled, this tack by the democratic parties never could halt the progress of the fascists, and the democratic left was always being outmaneuvered.

    What Cheney did was to ignore the “common” ground debate about torture. While Liberals were shocked and outraged that torture was used, Cheney and his minions moved the debate outside the rule-of-law discussion which Liberals have never really understood and countered.

    A large portion of our country does not care about the rule of law concerning torture. Therefore, unfortunately, any debate about torture breaking the rule-of-law is doomed to win over those who do not already have that view.

  14. 14
    keestadoll says:

    He bumped his speech kids: September 8 now. Let the spin BEGIN!!!

  15. 15
    MonkeyBoy says:

    Here are direct links that will take you to the tags sections of his Amazon tags pages.

    page 1, page 2, page 3.

    Create new tags or vote up as you think appropriate (in general voting up is better than voting down as a way of getting the “best tags” on the first page).

    There seems to be a lot of voting action e.g. “wingnut welfare” is on page 3 with 5 up votes and 4 down.

    I generally prefer multiword snarky phrases but haven’t created any yet. If we do create some it would take BJ group action to advance them from the oblivion of page 3.

  16. 16

    I need to call one giant bullshit:

    This meme that prosecuting the Bush administration will prevent future administrations from doing whatever they want is utterly wrong. Everything the Bush Administration did was already illegal. They did it anyway. People like that think they’re too powerful to be touched, that they’ll get away with it even if everyone before them got caught – or, like Cheney, they think that everyone will eventually admit they were right.

    It’s especially wrong since the odds of successfully convicting Bush or Cheney – the only people that matter – of anything are slim indeed. This isn’t just ‘can you prove they broke the law’, where ‘I said it was legal first’ has a lot of power. The whole idea of whether a president can be tried for his decisions is a giant legal grey area that’s going straight to the Supreme Court. Any guesses how they’ll rule?

    I would love to see Cheney and Bush in jail for the things they did, especially torture. But its actual practical effect would be the debacle we saw with the GOP impeaching Clinton, not a deterrent to future misdeeds. The check to presidential power is what the courts and congress will let them get away with, and always has been.

  17. 17
    LittlePig says:

    That in itself tells you something about him

    Col. Wilkerson is being kind. That’s *all* you need to know about Richard Bruce Cheney.

  18. 18
    LittlePig says:

    @Halteclere:

    the overarching point was that this fascist group was intent on destroying that country’s government, but used the rule of law as a fig leaf to cover their illegal activities and unsurping of power.

    As did the Bush Administration. David Addington and John Yoo made law out of whole cloth for just this purpose. With the Vichy Supremes cheering them on.

  19. 19
    MomSense says:

    There is a reason why Cheney will not take this book tour out of the US – and it isn’t just because he is so unpopular. This is the same reason that Rumsfeld canceled a speaking engagement in Germany.

    Just like with Pinochet (in fact the same Judge) there is a war crimes case being methodically built against him. So I say–keep talking you big fool. Keep bragging about all the illegal crap you did that caused “heads to explode”.

  20. 20
    singfoom says:

    The central idea this country was founded on is the Rule of Law. Cheney doesn’t respect that idea. I will forever hold out the hope that he and the others who dragged our country through the mud and continue to spout off that his actions were legal when they absolutely were not will eventually be prosecuted.

    If we don’t respect the Rule of Law over men, then we’re not the country we think we are or the country we want to be.

  21. 21
    Elizabelle says:

    Yup. Lithwick’s last line stays with you.

    Dick Cheney is living proof that if we are not brave enough to enforce our laws, we will forever be at the mercy of a handful of men.

  22. 22
    wrb says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    Yep. What prosecution would have done is firmly establish that all they did was ok, and we’d go forward with that precedent quieting any inhibiting ambiguity.

    Just imo.

    I did dearly want prosecution but after thinking through the likely outcome, I gave up the idea.

  23. 23
    catclub says:

    @The Dangerman: “I suppose Obama could have done something in the first 2 years, but solving the (still unsolved) economic morass had to take precedence. ”

    This is the admin that _claims_ they can walk and chew gum at the same time, but an investigation by the Attorney General’s office could not happen while health care and stimulus bills were worked on, becuase everyone knows how crucial the AG is to those LEGISLATIVE debates.

    Yes, I know, the AG was also busy closing his eyes to financial malfeasance by the big banks.

  24. 24
    harlana says:

    I just hate seeing Cheney on the teevee and in the news, I just don’t want to be reminded. I don’t understand why someone like him wouldn’t want to stay off the radar screen, but he can’t seem to help himself.

    The only time I ever want to see this man’s face again is behind bars.

  25. 25
    Tim Connor says:

    @greennotGreen: Who are YOU kidding? Obama give up the “Post Partisan” excuse for not having a backbone? I refer you to Krugman quoting Martin Wolf:

    Mr Obama wishes to be president of a country that does not exist. In his fantasy US, politicians bury differences in bipartisan harmony. In fact, he faces an opposition that would prefer their country to fail than their president to succeed.

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....f-gets-it/

  26. 26
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @cleek:

    has one administration ever prosecuted a previous administration?

    Nope. That may in part explain the excesses of the Bush/Cheney administration; they had no fear of prosecution. In days past, the Senate undertook such investigations (Tea Pot Dome, Watergate, Iran/Contra) when illegal acts were discovered. In the years since Iran/Contra the Senate has become a bastion for corporate interests and a sad place where tit-for-tat parliamentary shenanigans have superseded doing the peoples’ business.

  27. 27
    WereBear says:

    @harlana: I don’t understand why someone like him wouldn’t want to stay off the radar screen, but he can’t seem to help himself.

    Because it’s not enough that he got away with it; he has to be told he’ll always get away with it.

    It’s apologizing for getting shot in the face; only from the whole country.

  28. 28
    Paul in KY says:

    @Dennis SGMM: They were alot shadier than Tricky Dick’s, IMO.

  29. 29
    Paul in KY says:

    @Halteclere: See your point, but what Dahlia said was they just got their hack lawyers to give an opinion that it was ‘legal’. The reasoning was BS, but since they were DOJ lawyers & the ones who wrote them had a long history of thinking crazy shit, they were able to say that the opinions were given ‘in good faith’.

    I too think Pres. Obama has dropped the ball on this subversion of the DOJ.

  30. 30
    Paul in KY says:

    @Elizabelle: That’s a scary line.

  31. 31
    hilts says:

    OT

    McMegan strikes again:

    Bias matters not because liberals deliberately slant their stories, but because they are much more likely to interrogate the facts that contradict their ideological beliefs, than the ones that support them. When they come across an uncomfortable fact, they’ll go out of their way to figure out why it isn’t really true. When they come across a fact that confirms what they believe, they’ll be more likely to accept it at face value. I’m not claiming that liberals do this more than conservatives (I think that being human, they’re equally prone to this phenomenon)–only that in the media, liberal bias is mostly what matters, because the media is overwhelmingly somewhere to the left of the American center.

  32. 32
    singfoom says:

    @hilts: How the fuck do you look at the media and come away with the idea that it is “overwhelmingly somewhere to the left of the American center?”

    What, because Rachel Maddow has a show?

    My head hurts thinking about that shit.

  33. 33
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I think that Bush/Cheney did more lasting damage to the nation than Tricky Dick and Spiggy did. Nixon had a seemingly unquenchable streak of venality that stretched back to his days of running a slush fund in the California state lege and that was his fatal weakness. Bush/Cheney seemed of a piece with Tom Delay who once stated “I am the government!” We seem to have entered an era when a president can do anything that he or she wants to do simply by getting one shyster lawyer to say that it’s legal. Presidents rarely give up powers assumed by their predecessors in office and the incremental creep of presidential Super Powers does not, to me, bode well for the Republic.

  34. 34
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    David Addington and John Yoo made law out of whole cloth for just this purpose. With the Vichy Supremes cheering them on.

    The Holocaust was, under Reich law, meticulously and perfectly legal. One of the major sticking points about implementing the “Final Solution” was that the ministers didn’t object to exterminating the Jews on moral grounds, but that they didn’t have a signed Führer Order to base all their actions on.

  35. 35
    RP says:

    Lithwick makes some good points, but it’s frustrating that she has to make this another column on Obama. She appears to be suggesting that Obama is partially to blame for Cheney’s actions because he didn’t prosecute. Complete BS IMO. It’s fine to be critical of Obama’s decision but (a) recognize that it’s not an easy one, and that there are risks as well as benefits in prosecuting Cheney et al. (e.g., setting a horrible precedent if they’re acquitted), and (b) don’t conflate the issues of Cheney’s malfeasance with Obama’s decision.

  36. 36
    Elizabelle says:

    @hilts:

    Meh. Not going to go there.

    The only people who will believe that believe what spews from Megan’s mouth and calculator to begin with.

    Her problem is that accurate reporting of the facts usually undermines her assertions and way too much of conservative ideology.

    Ergo, the need to build one’s own alternative news universe.

    I’ve never heard Democrats saying they “create their own reality.”

    Meh.

  37. 37
    geg6 says:

    @hilts:

    McMegan looks at Matty Y and thinks he’s a fucking liberal, ferchrissakes.

    Far as I can tell, with Bill Moyer’s retirement and my mother’s death (just before 9/11, thank the FSM), there hasn’t been a liberal worthy of the word in the MSM since. Maddow and Olbermann are what I’d call leftists or DFHs (not in any way practical), not liberals. Liberals don’t exist any more, according to CW. Rich Trumka is the only other one I can think of, but he’s not a media whore.

    ETA: Perhaps Stephen Colbert. I’m not totally sure about that because I don’t watch his show, but from what I’ve heard him talk about in his “real life” persona, he might be one of those elusive liberal media figures. And Jon Stewart is most emphatically NOT.

  38. 38
    danimal says:

    But Obama postponed his speech on jobs so that shows that both sides have problems. I’m sitting out the next election in 2012.

  39. 39
    AA+ Bonds says:

    I think it’s fair to say that Cheney got away with multiple first-degree murder.

  40. 40
    AA+ Bonds says:

    @geg6:

    No true Scotsman, huh? Maddow and Olbermann are not leftists. Their occasional criticism of capitalism is tepid and toothless.

    It’s hard to face up to the fact that liberals have simply failed to stop the right, and that their champions are often as not beholden completely to bankers. I am hopeful that, given the record low approval for capitalism, more liberals will move left and shift the debate in this country.

  41. 41
    catclub says:

    The GOP campaign slogan will be “12% in 2012!”
    And that 12% is not just Cheney’s approval polls.

  42. 42
    geg6 says:

    @AA+ Bonds:

    It’s hard to face up to the fact that liberals have simply failed to stop the right, and that their champions are often as not beholden completely to bankers.

    Funny, but I’ve never HAD trouble facing up to the fact that liberals are one of the smallest voting groups in the country. I’ve known that since I was, oh….about 6 years old. And, honestly, I have little trouble with bankers or business people or unionists or whomever participating in the political process.

    I am hopeful that, given the record low approval for capitalism, more liberals will move left and shift the debate in this country.

    Nope. Not gonna become a lefty. I’m a liberal and I plan on staying one. And your definition of a lefty and mine aren’t the same, just sayin’. Lefties are too pie-in-the-sky. I prefer to live in the real world.

  43. 43
    greennotGreen says:

    @Tim Connor: I guess I’m like John Adams: a delusional dreamer.

    International Court is a better way to go, anyway, since Cheney would be more likely to be convicted there.

  44. 44
    Dennis SGMM says:

    I’m a liberal, always have been. I’m just bemused by the fact that it’s seemingly okay to be a foaming-at-the-mouth nihilistic Tea Party type while the word “liberal” has become a pejorative on both sides of the aisle.

  45. 45
    geg6 says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    I’m just bemused by the fact that it’s seemingly okay to be a foaming-at-the-mouth nihilistic Tea Party or “progressive” type while the word “liberal” has become a pejorative on both sides of the aisle.

    Fixed!

  46. 46
    drkrick says:

    @Frankensteinbeck:

    The check to presidential power is what the courts and congress will let them get away with, and always has been.

    It’s supposed to be what the people will let them get away with – there’s no better check on a politician’s power than removing them and never letting them hold office again. Unfortunately, the recent record on how that power has been exercised isn’t encouraging.

  47. 47
    cckids says:

    @geg6: Well, Colbert’s best/most famous line is “reality has a well-known liberal bias”. I’m pretty sure he’s on our team.

  48. 48
    ForUnDcGetsEnd says:

    I feel quite comfortable calling myself a liberal or a progressive. Don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.

    Frankly, there are a lot of people who call themselves progressive who I feel don’t deserve it.

  49. 49
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @cckids:

    That, and on election night 2008 he broke character and teared up when the networks called the election for Obama.

  50. 50
    Paul in KY says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Nixon’s crimes (while numerous and varied), never reach the level of what Bush/Cheney did (IMO).

    Always enjoy hearing your opinion, Dennis.

  51. 51
    Paul in KY says:

    @RP: I think Dahlia’s point (and mine too) is we HAVE to prosecute, come what may.

    Evidently, Pres. Obama has a different opinion.

  52. 52
    singfoom says:

    @Dennis SGMM: I would agree that Bush/Cheney did more lasting damage to the Republic as well. And the problem with the extension of Presidential power is that once something is assumed, it is never (or very rarely) walked back.

    So they’ve set up future presidents for further abuse of the power of the office. There’s not a lot normal citizens can do about this either, since the SCOTUS is stacked the way it is.

  53. 53
    Sophia says:

    I hope Wilkerson is right and that Cheney at least has the shame/sense to limit his travel plans. Actually, I’d prefer that Cheney start taking long vacations in Europe, but knowing he won’t do that I at least appreciate the apparent consciousness of guilt. The fact that it’s painfully obvious he will never be tried in the US just strengthens the case for some other country to exercise universal jurisdiction.

  54. 54
    A Mom Anon says:

    @danimal: If I remember Civics 101 correctly,doesn’t Speaker of the House have to call for a vote in order to call for a joint session of Congress? Without that there’s not really much Obama could do to call them all in,is there? (I’d guess you were being snarky,but I am wondering if I’m remembering this right).

  55. 55
    Svensker says:

    @greennotGreen:

    And there’s one more reason the Republicans can’t afford to lose the White House in 2012. In a second term, Obama may discover that his Justice Department has sufficient evidence to indict Bush/Cheney for war crimes, or at least let them be extradited by the international court.

    Never going to happen. If his administration indicted the previous for war crimes the country would be torn apart, a new civil war basically. Obama would never start up that buzz saw. Especially since a fair number of Dems were involved. I’m also pretty sure that Obama had a talk with Dubya, since Dubya has gone out of his way not to step on Obama and to show him respect. Not saying a deal, but a gentlemen’s understanding.

    I would dearly love to see those war crime trials happen but I also think it would destroy the country. Unfortunately, I think NOT having them will eventually destroy the country.

  56. 56
    rlrr says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    After WWII, we put Germans and Japanese to death for what Dick Cheney did.

    That was different because SHUT UP, that’s why!

  57. 57
    rlrr says:

    @Rosalita:

    As John Adams famously put it, the United States was intended to be a government of laws, not of men. Dick Cheney is living proof that if we are not brave enough to enforce our laws, we will forever be at the mercy of a handful of men.

    That’s a pre-9/11 mindset.

  58. 58
    mcmullje says:

    This is from The Washington Monthly:

    Remember, this is just about picking the date for the speech. It’s like arguing about the shape of the table before sitting down for negotiations. What possible chance is there for Washington to approve meaningful economic legislation if there’s a dramatic showdown over scheduling? That’s a rhetorical question; the chances are zero.

    “Accounts differ as to exactly how this fiasco occurred, but it appears the White House consulted with congressional leaders before the announcement and, according to Democrats, chose Wednesday. Republican leaders didn’t object at the time, which the White House interpreted as acceptance. GOP officials then said they hadn’t actually agreed to Wednesday, leading to Boehner’s letter yesterday afternoon.

    It was, according congressional historians, the first time in American history the president requested an audience with a Joint Session, only to have the Speaker balk.

    By agreeing to Boehner’s preferred day, the White House at least prevents a prolonged argument about process. Because Washington rules dictate that there must be a “winner” in every dispute, the Speaker gets to gloat this morning, but the fact remains Boehner still looks small and petty, picking an unnecessary fight. That he claimed to be speaking “on behalf of the bipartisan leadership and membership of both the House and the Senate,” when he clearly was not, only makes him look slightly worse. If President Obama values being seen as “the adult in the room,” this little mess reinforced the perception.”

  59. 59
    PurpleGirl says:

    Cheney feel regret over the deferments — NO WAY. Never. He had 5 of them. He was yellow-bellied COWARD, a chickenhawk. The man’s a war criminal who should rot. A case of gangrene of flesh-eating virus would be nice.

  60. 60
    Silver says:

    @Svensker:

    You’re also going to bump into a serious problem for Obama: If what Cheney and Bush did is prosecutable, how long is it before blowing away kids with drones is something an enterprising judge in Europe takes a look at?

    It’s less likely, because Obama doesn’t swing his dick around before slapping you in the face with it like Bush did, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.

    And no, this isn’t a “Both sides do it” post, either. It’s a realization that if you’re an American president, there’s people out there who think (often justifiably) that you’re a war criminal.

  61. 61
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Frankensteinbeck: I want him prosecuted not as a deterrent but because he broke the law and was part of an evil administration. I have no illusions that it would deter anyone from doing anything — does capital punishment deter anyone from killing someone else? No, it doesn’t.

    Cheney and Bush did evil things and supported evil things. They deserve punishment.

  62. 62
    Kane says:

    Remember the Bush/Cheney administration mantra of letting history decide? Well, history has decided, and it’s not pretty.
    No amount of spin will change that.

  63. 63
    trollhattan says:

    @hilts:

    Somebody should just set her on an iceflow and end our long national nightmare. Was a single synapse accesed in the typing of that drivel? It’s so…Spiro Agnew.

  64. 64
    catclub says:

    @Svensker: “a new civil war basically”

    I don’t see how that comes about. A lot of whining does not equate to civil war. I admit there will be a LOT of whining, but the procedures would be tiresomely boring in practice – a feature not a bug. And the whining would be seen as out of proportion.

  65. 65

    @Silver: #58

    It’s a realization that if you’re an American president, there’s people out there who think (often justifiably) that you’re a war criminal.

    If war is basically morally wrong [unless demonstrated to be otherwise], then conducting a war is morally wrong. War is dirty. Crimes are committed. Sins are committed. I don’t care who you are.

    Yes, I’m a pacifist and often conflicted about the whole issue.

  66. 66
    Cliff in NH says:

    @MonkeyBoy:

    Voted down truth, hero, american hero etc

    tagged it with the appropriate tags.

    war criminal, war crimes, revisionist history, liar, sociopathic, torture, likes to watch torture, treason, evil doer, wingnut welfare, true crime, lying sack of crap, revisionist, chickhawk, torture porn

  67. 67
    catclub says:

    @Silver: Wow, if both Bush and OBama were tried for war crimes _MAYBE_ the US and its presidents would become more, um… circumspect, when it comes to things that could be considered war crimes in civilized nations. Talk about win, win.

  68. 68
    Jay B. says:

    @RP:

    Lithwick makes some good points, but it’s frustrating that she has to make this another column on Obama. She appears to be suggesting that Obama is partially to blame for Cheney’s actions because he didn’t prosecute. Complete BS IMO. It’s fine to be critical of Obama’s decision but (a) recognize that it’s not an easy one, and that there are risks as well as benefits in prosecuting Cheney et al. (e.g., setting a horrible precedent if they’re acquitted), and (b) don’t conflate the issues of Cheney’s malfeasance with Obama’s decision.

    Truth hurts, huh? For a variety of reasons, Obama didn’t want to prosecute the Bush Administration. The second he made that decision (and Pelosi before him), the rule of law no longer mattered. Politics did. If the “risks” of prosecuting Cheney included acquittal, then you don’t believe in the legal system either. That’s always a possibility. Why the fuck is that a deterrent for trying them anyway? If they were acquitted of what amount to war crimes, well, so be it. They are getting away with it anyway, without worrying about any trial at all.

    It’s just weak-ass shit the apologists are puking out. Sure, it’d be hard. Big fucking deal. And God forbid that it would actually be a good thing to do, not to mention the legal one.

    What the Administration decided was to aid and abet. They didn’t do all of the illegal things the Bush Administration did and Cheney celebrates (‘tho, I’m sure part of the reason they won’t prosecute is that they are doing some of them), but the issues are conflated, so long as they sit on their dicks and let the rampant criminality of the previous administration remain unexamined, nevermind unpunished.

    A total and utter failure of our government. Again.

  69. 69
    TenguPhule says:

    I have no illusions that it would deter anyone from doing anything—does capital punishment deter anyone from killing someone else?

    100% of those executed never kill anyone else.

    Let the French snatch and grab the Bush and Cheney clans and then dump them out in Iraq, buck naked.

    Let the Iraqis have their justice.

    For bonus bucks footage can be sold on primetime.

  70. 70
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Silver:

    The war on terror combined with the increasing use of remote controlled weaponry has raised the potential for war crimes to unprecedented levels. Killing civilians has become “collateral damage” and it happens so often that it’s just become an accepted part of the warscape. The use of drones has, to my mind, worsened the situation, because the deaths caused by them have somehow become sanitized. You no longer hear “American pilots mistakenly killed members of a wedding party.” Now it’s “Drone attack kills civilians,” as if the drone made the attack all by itself. The drone drivers are insulated from the consequences of the inevitable mistakes that people make when delivering ordnance onto targets identified by questionable intelligence. Going forward there is every possibility that there will be more such mistakes, especially in the wake of Obama’s declaration that drone strikes aren’t hostilities. If you don’t think that some future Republican president isn’t going to seize on that one to do whatever he or she damned well pleases then you aren’t paying attention.

  71. 71
    priscianusjr says:

    @keestadoll:

    He bumped his speech kids: September 8 now. Let the spin BEGIN

    Bumped his speech? This is Obama’s Waterloo, his Krakatoa moment. The man is an empty suit, a tin god, a weak-kneed, pigeon-hearted wuss. He caved like a panda going into hibernation, folded like an origami tiger — no, like a lily-livered, yellow bellied wimp. Can you say “President Perry”? He may be a moron, but at least the man’s got castiglioni.

  72. 72
    RP says:

    Truth hurts, huh? For a variety of reasons, Obama didn’t want to prosecute the Bush Administration. The second he made that decision (and Pelosi before him), the rule of law no longer mattered. Politics did. If the “risks” of prosecuting Cheney included acquittal, then you don’t believe in the legal system either. That’s always a possibility. Why the fuck is that a deterrent for trying them anyway? If they were acquitted of what amount to war crimes, well, so be it. They are getting away with it anyway, without worrying about any trial at all.

    I’m guessing you’re not a lawyer. In the real world, prosecutors use discretion when deciding whether to prosecute ALL THE TIME for a wide variety of reasons. And they rarely prosecute if they think they don’t have a good chance of winning (even if they’re 100% certain that the person is guilty). That doesn’t mean the prosecutors don’t “believe in the legal system.” Ditto for 95% of the population.

    What you and Lithwick are arguing, in essence, is that Cheney should have been prosecuted regardless of the public’s view, regardless of the potentially harmful legal and political precedent, and regardless of the potential practical problems (e.g., reducing the chances of getting a stimulus or HCR passed).

    Look, I want Cheney to locked up for a good long time. But I also recognize that this is a complicated issue and isn’t about satisfying my needs.

  73. 73
    Paul in KY says:

    @RP: If the laws of the United States truely mean that no one is above the law, then a prosecution must be made.

    I agree that the outcome could be bad for those of us who love this country. Howver, I don’t really know if that bad outcome would be as bad as what we have now: A man who gleefully authorized torture (among other crimes) and has now written a book admitting to it & essentially saying ‘suck on this’.

    I’m just a doofus who writes in to blogs. Ms. Lithwick is a trained legal scholar. I think she knows what she is advocating here.

  74. 74
    Jay B. says:

    What you and Lithwick are arguing, in essence, is that Cheney should have been prosecuted regardless of the public’s view, regardless of the potentially harmful legal and political precedent, and regardless of the potential practical problems (e.g., reducing the chances of getting a stimulus or HCR passed).

    Uh, yes. That or we might as well just codify that we have a two-tiered justice system — one for most of us and one for elected officials. They can literally do anything they want and we have to follow laws.

    Look, I want Cheney to locked up for a good long time.

    Why? If it’s so fucking complicated, then maybe he’s innocent. Let’s find out.

    But I also recognize that this is a complicated issue and isn’t about satisfying my needs.

    What a dickless response. It’s not about my needs either — I don’t think for a second Cheney will ever spend a minute in jail. Still, it’s not important in some abstract way. It’s the law. We follow it or we don’t. And it’s painfully obvious that with apologists like you on “my” side, we don’t and won’t. Just wanted to make sure.

  75. 75
    RP says:

    I know Lithwick (a little bit), and she’s very, very smart. But she’s also a pundit who mostly covers the Supreme Court. She doesn’t have a monopoly on legal knowledge, especially the practice of law in the real world. It’s similar to Krugman advocating for a $1.4T stimulus — that’s the correct solution in the abstract, but reality is very messy.

    The notion that no one is above the law is an ideal that the US was founded on and has always tried to live up to. Ideals are a great thing, but they’re not reality.

  76. 76
    Jay B. says:

    And I do love how we have to post hoc hold legislation hostage in order to do the right thing. Oh, what, you want to follow the law AND have stimulus? It’d be a shame if that road wasn’t repaved because your mad emo need to have illegalities prosecuted.

    I wonder if that was one of the defense arguments in Nuremburg. Sure, they committed crimes, but that’s not important now. We have to allocate Marshall Plan funds and can’t handle the distraction.

  77. 77
    Jay B. says:

    The notion that no one is above the law is an ideal that the US was founded on and has always tried to live up to. Ideals are a great thing, but they’re not reality.

    They ran a torture regime.

  78. 78
    RP says:

    What a dickless response. It’s not about my needs either — I don’t think for a second Cheney will ever spend a minute in jail. Still, it’s not important in some abstract way. It’s the law. We follow it or we don’t. And it’s painfully obvious that with apologists like you on “my” side, we don’t and won’t. Just wanted to make sure.

    What an incredibly naive response. You sound a lot like a libertarian.

  79. 79
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Jay B.:
    If there are no legal consequences for torture then torture is, de facto, legal. Obama says that we no longer torture, goody for him. That is no deterrent to a future president who decides that yes we do use “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
    We lost a little chunk of our souls when the nation went down the road of torture. Getting it back will require politicians who are courageous enough to do the right thing rather than the politically expedient thing. I’m not holding my breath.

  80. 80
    Paul in KY says:

    @RP: Well, we’ll just have to agree to disagree then.

  81. 81
    RP says:

    They ran a torture regime.

    And FDR (with a big assist from Earl Warren) placed US citizens of Japanese descent in internment camps. I don’t believe anyone was prosecuted for that, either.

  82. 82
    300baud says:

    @RP:

    And they rarely prosecute if they think they don’t have a good chance of winning (even if they’re 100% certain that the person is guilty).

    You aren’t thinking this through far enough.

    There are two reasons prosecutors don’t prosecute potential losers. One is because it is good for their careers. The other is that they believe justice can be better served by prosecuting somebody else. The first in this case is irrelevant, so let’s look at the second.

    The “justice is better served” is basically a risk-reward tradeoff. If they turn down a 10% chance of convicting a murderer in favor of a 90% chance of convicting a different murderer, then justice wins: there’s a big difference in risk for the same reward. But what if they turn down a 10% chance of convicting a murderer in favor of a 90% chance of nailing a jaywalker? Justice loses, because high reward justifies high risk.

    The stakes with Cheney are huge, so if there’s even a small chance of justice here (or even of preventing recurrence) then it’s worth the risk.

  83. 83
    Calouste says:

    @cleek:

    The USA didn’t even prosecute the administration of the CSA. Most of the CSA cabinet spend a short time in jail when arrested and later ended up back in Congress.

  84. 84
    Jay B. says:

    @RP:

    Two wrongs definitely make a right then! You really are a big time legal scholar with your finger on the pulse of political reality! Not like that Ivory Tower dreamer Lithwick.

    @Dennis SGMM: Me neither. When you can’t even clearly convince nominal allies that it’s actually important to uphold the law on torture, there’s no real point to fight for it. I just hate feeling complicit in it in any way. Well, we may look the other way on torture, but at least we got a mediocre health care plan passed and unemployment is only at 9.2%.

  85. 85
    Paul in KY says:

    @Calouste: I just finished a biography of John Mosby, who was quite an interesting character. One of the things that struck me when reading about his wartime activities & his reluctance to surrender at the end of the war was how chummy the antagonists could be towards those on the other side.

    IMO, the Civil War and participation in it (on either side, by whites only I would say) was treated more or less like a sports match. I think it was due to many, many families having participants on both sides of the struggle.

  86. 86
    RP says:

    There are two reasons prosecutors don’t prosecute potential losers. One is because it is good for their careers. The other is that they believe justice can be better served by prosecuting somebody else. The first in this case is irrelevant, so let’s look at the second.

    That’s a little simplistic. It’s true that a big reason they don’t prosecute some potential losers is for career reasons, but that’s not simply a function of wanting to maintain a good win rate. Prosecutors are usually elected officials and must keep their finger on the pulse of the voters’ needs and demands. In that sense, the career issue is certainly relevant to Cheney. And I think there are other reasons prosecutors don’t pursue certain cases (e.g., potentially bad precedent) beyondd the two you identified.

  87. 87
    wrb says:

    @Jay B.:

    It’s the law. We follow it or we don’t

    It isn’t the law if the Supreme Court decides that it isn’t. Our reading doesn’t matter. Theirs does.

    If the court rules that the things the Bush administration did were legal, it will have made law.

    If this is the result of the Obama Administration bringing a prosecution that they know would likely result in such a ruling, the administration should be rightfully criticized for knowingly acting to legalize torture out of a craven desire to please their base.

  88. 88
    Samara Morgan says:

    by all means link Young Conor.
    that preening fucktard helped get us in this mess– have you forgotten his weepy plea for divided government before the midterms Anne Laurie?

    anne laurie digs the glibertarian reacharound too.

  89. 89
    slippy says:

    @TenguPhule:

    100% of those executed never kill anyone else.

    This is possibly the worst excuse for a pro-death penalty argument that exists.

    I don’t know if that was your purpose, but I just wanted to mention that.

    As for Cheney, he is as mortal as the rest of us, and thank God he will actually die someday, and after that he won’t be around to shit up the airwaves and intertubes with his lies, and we can finally call a verdict on his criminal career, and maybe get a couple of good hot smelly poops on his grave in the bargain.

    Or, with luck politics will catch up with him and we’ll have a major world-wide political crisis that will end with the dreaded One World Government forming, and then suddenly a bunch of wormy fucks won’t be outside the reach of the law anymore, and we can have a worldwide Despot Prosecution Party.

  90. 90
    grandpajohn says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Killing civilians has become “collateral damage” and it happens so often that it’s just become an accepted part of the warscape.

    How many civilians became collateral damage during WWII? Germany bombings of London, Holland, Poland, US and British bombing of Germany, the firebombing of Dresden, the fire bombing of Tokyo?
    unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans in WWI etc,etc.
    collateral damage or the killing of civilians has always been a by product of war and and a part of the warscape

  91. 91
    Jay B. says:

    @wrb:

    If this is the result of the Obama Administration bringing a prosecution that they know would likely result in such a ruling, the administration should be rightfully criticized for knowingly acting to legalize torture out of a craven desire to please their base.

    That’s laughably stupid. Torture is obviously legal anyway. Why? Because the previous administration did it with impunity and wrote books about it! QED. If the SC puts it on the books — in some way that eliminates treaties we are legally bound to uphold — then at least we’d have it in writing. Why you think that it’s somehow better to have laws on the books that we don’t enforce because we’re afraid of the Supreme Court, well, then we should change the law. They don’t matter anyway.

    “Craven desire to please their base.” Jesus Christ you people really tie yourselves into knots to justify the moronic.

  92. 92
    wrb says:

    @Jay B.:

    You argue funny

  93. 93
    Daulnay says:

    “Liberal”, “Progressive”, and “Lefty” are so industrial-age. I’m a libertarian syndicalist opposed to the propertization of knowledge. Someday, political parties will catch up.

  94. 94
    Chris says:

    @Halteclere:

    A large portion of our country does not care about the rule of law concerning torture.

    There’s always been a large portion of our country that didn’t care about the rule of law in any regard, as long as they got their way.

    Which of course, is always the problem with the law all over the world. Doesn’t matter how good or clear-cut you make it: if there are enough people who don’t give a damn that it’s being broken, the law no longer matters. Not to mention the unwritten rule that presidents are basically above the law – the closest any one of them has ever come to being prosecuted was Nixon, and he simply resigned and was pardoned. Throw in the fact that Cheney’s crimes were committed in the context of international relations, something where law enforcement is iffy at best and where the average American simply doesn’t give a rat’s ass.

    Asking why Cheney and his clique haven’t been investigated for what they did when they were in power is like asking why Southern whites pre-1960s were never prosecuted for lynching blacks.

  95. 95
    El Cid says:

    I don’t see why I should give much of a shit about the U.S. having tortured, just because it would show how much I hate Cheney. What’s the point? Because it’s wrong? Who cares?

    When someone in power next wants to do it, they will, and no one will stop them, and nothing will happen to them, and, what, people will blog angrily about it?

  96. 96
    Chris says:

    @Svensker:

    Never going to happen. If his administration indicted the previous for war crimes the country would be torn apart, a new civil war basically.

    This exactly.

    There’s a Star Trek episode in which Worf’s dead father is framed for an act of treason against the Klingon Empire. It eventually comes out that it was actually another guy and that everyone knew all along, but they decided to ignore it because he had so much power and supporters that if he were held accountable, there’d be a civil war.

    I think of America in its current state every time I watch that episode. (A lot of the TNG/DS9 Klingon episodes, in fact).

  97. 97
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Chris: we are already having a civil war.
    or an uncivil war, however you want to consider it.
    its more like Firefly than Star Trek.

  98. 98
    Mike D. says:

    @Elizabelle:

    Dick Cheney is living proof that if we are not brave enough to enforce our laws, we will forever be at the mercy of a handful of men.

    But it is not we brave men and women of the nation who do or don’t enforce our laws. The decisions about how and when our laws are enforced are already in the hands of a few men (and a few, far fewer, women). And it’s not as if we had a perfectly functioning machine of consistently, to say nothing of univerally applied federal law enforcement going on before Obama came to power. Indeed, under Bush we had openly political prosecutions being conducted at DOJ. But it’s never been perfect; no one has ever asserted that the failure to prsoecute a given alleged crime means that our rule of law with respect to that crime has been shattered. And, to me, what I see here is a pretty reasonable prosecutrial decision about whether a case would be likely to end in a conviction And that is the standard that is the precedent. And it is not what you think the standard should be that matters; it is whether decisions are being made today that are grossly out of step with the precedent on comparable past decisions made by prosecutors at Justice. And no matter how many times Lithwick writes it, it does not make it true that Cheney has admitted to torture. he has admitted to waterboarding, which Lithwick believes she can prove to her own satisfaction is torture. But Cheney holds that it is is not torture, he has relevant DOJ legal guidance to back him up on that. What Dhalia Lithwick can prove to herself is not relevant; what can be proven in the legal forum that this would ultimately be heard in is what is relevant. it is not clear to me that political interference is what has led the Justice Department to conclude they cannot prove in that forum what Lithwick is able to prove to herself; and moreover it is not clear that that conclusion is even an unreasonable prosecutrial conclusion. And if it is not an unreasonable prosecutorial determination, then the mere fact that Dahlia Lithwick suggests otherwise does not mean that torture is or was legal, or that the rule of law with respect to Cheney and torture in 2001-2009 has been vitiated. Rather (unless it can be proved otherwise), federal prosecutors are simply making the decision that federal prosecutors make on a routine basis, i.e., unless you hold that that already in some way amounted to the vitiation of the rule of law in our country, the rule of law stands intact.

    Sometimes people commit crimes but for various reasons are not prosecuted for them, even when prosecutors believe with near certainty that the crime was committed by those people. And the rule of law survives.

  99. 99
    Paul in KY says:

    @grandpajohn: Those people were members of a state that was an avowed enemy. We went in to ‘liberate’ Iraq.

    IMO, your analogy fails.

  100. 100
    Paul in KY says:

    @El Cid: That’s a great attitude to have.

  101. 101
    Paul in KY says:

    @Mike D.: Cheney probably would have hired you for a DOJ post.

  102. 102
    RP says:

    no one has ever asserted that the failure to prsoecute a given alleged crime means that our rule of law with respect to that crime has been shattered.

    Exactly right. And hence my point about the Japanese internment camps. It sucks that no one was ever punished for those horrific crimes, but our failure to hold any responsible in that case didn’t cause the rule of law to stop functioning.

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