Monday, January 12, 2009

Cheney Defends Torture, Claims Country is Guided by "The Hand of Providence"

Last week, a group of conservative journalists sat down with Vice-President Cheney for a two hour discussion on the last eight years in the White House and about his service in various Presidential Administrations. Among these journalists, was Erick Erickson of the website and his latest piece discusses some of the topics about which the outgoing Vice President spoke.

Naturally, the so-called "War on Terror" was a topic that came up during this time and Erickson mentions that Cheney feels that the Administration did not get credit for a lot of things that didn't happen; or to translate, Cheney is again making the claim that since the United States has not been attacked since 9/11, it is evidence that the Bush Administration's policies have worked. It is obvious that Cheney feels that torture is among the "policies" that have provided results in keeping America safe because Erickson then quotes Cheney as saying:

We’ve ended up in a situation where critics label everything the administration does as “torture.” “That word,” he sighed, “is used with reckless abandon."

The fact that Cheney is still arguing semantics in regard to using the term "torture" as opposed to the more Orwellian "enhanced interrogation techniques" is more indication that Administration officials feel that these policies were actually beneficial and feel that they did nothing wrong. Regardless of the term used, it is more important is to focus on what has been implemented as acceptable ways of treating detainees, how those policies have broken laws, and how it affects the United States and its ability to keep the country safe in the future.

We know, from the Senate Armed Services Committee report released a few weeks ago, that what Cheney and Bush Administration officials felt would be acceptable, has led to the abuse and deaths of detainees that were in U.S. custody. A report issued last year by Physicians for Human Rights found abuses such as detainees being stabbed in the cheek with a screwdriver and another detainee had injuries consistent with being sodomized. Combine this with the comprehensive records that the ACLU has kept of detainee deaths that are consistent with homicide and one continues to wonder if using the term "torture" really is being used with such "reckless abandon". If this is deemed an appropriate way to treat detainees, the majority of which have never been charged with a crime, then perhaps America needs to step down from pedestal of morality upon which these same leaders claim we are perched.

Erickson's piece continues:

Many of the administration’s opponents have never let go of the belief that terrorists could be prosecuted. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is the best example: the dividing line between the Bush administrations admirers and its most vehement critics falls along not just party lines, but separates those whose views are legalistic and academic and those who view war pragmatically.
What is striking about this statement is not just Erickson's amazement that there are those who "have never let go of the belief that terrorists could be prosecuted" as if prosecuting criminals is some hair-brained idea, but his distinction between those who view the war in legalistic terms versus pragmatic terms. To think that war should be viewed through one lens or another is to fall trap to same black and white mindset that this Administration has grown so fond of during the last eight years. Breaking the law the way this Administration has done and disrespecting the very idea of the law in the name of pragmatism is still breaking the law. Upholding the law is not some ideology with which those who have supposed "pragmatic vision" can simply disagree with.

What drives Cheney and other members of the Bush Administration to believe that they are above the law? Perhaps the answer lies in Cheney's response to a question by conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer during the two-hour long interview. Krauthammer asked Cheney if he felt that the "hand of providence" played a part in American history. Erickson documents:

The Vice President replied that he thought the United States had a very special place and was unique in history. “Clearly genius was involved in establishing the Republic. . . . We’ve either been extraordinarily fortunate from time to time or one can see the hand of providence.”

With the belief that your god is on their side and is guiding the path of the country that they lead, then it becomes easier to justify breaking laws in the name of advancing the cause of a country that has a "special place" and is guided by the "hand of providence". Such a perversion of adherence to the rule of law, justified by a belief in divine guidance is a reinforcement of why there needs to be an independent investigation of crimes committed over the last eight years.

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