Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheney Admits Role in Approving Torture: It's Time for a Recommitment to the Rule of Law

In follow-up to my blog entry yesterday, In an interview with ABC News Dick Cheney has admitted to authorizing torture techniques and continues to justify their use.

Cheney also went on to advocate keeping Guantanamo Bay open indefinitely and continues to justify the invasion of Iraq despite the fact that the Administration was dead wrong about Saddam Hussein having stockpiles of Weapons of Mass Destruction. In fact, Cheney even brushed aside the notion that the accuracy of their pre-war claims even matter anymore. This is the first time that Vice President Cheney has admitted such an active role in approving these so-call "enhanced interrogation techniques" and his stark admission comes just days after the Senate Armed Services Committee released their report finding that senior officials within the Bush Administration are directly responsible for the abuse of detainees in U.S. custody. What is described in the report (thought not explicitly cited as such) are war crimes and what Cheney admits to in his interview with ABC, are war crimes. The only question left at this juncture is what (if any) actions an Obama Administration will take to restore the respect for the rule of law.

Cheney's arrogance and stark admissions are done because he knows that the likelihood of being held to account is very small within the current Washington climate. This is the same arrogance that has led the Bush Administration to expand the powers of the Executive Branch of the government to unprecedented levels. As rumors continue to float around the country that once President-elect Obama takes office he will close Guantanamo, it is necessary for Obama to simultaneously announce a recommitment to the rule of law. This recommitment needs to emphasize that no one, not the President and not any elected or appointed official, is above the law. In accordance with this recommitment, Obama should take the necessary steps to convene either an independent panel or a special prosecutor to investigate lawbreaking that has occurred over the last eight years. It is necessary to stop the expansion of power within the Executive Branch and it is necessary to restore this country's commitment to the basic principles of law that this country should adhere to.

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