While much of what Cheney had to say is not surprising there was this exchange between Cheney and guest host Jonathan Karl:
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?
Cheney's open admission to being a "big supporter" of waterboarding has led some like Andrew Sullivan to claim that this is an open admission to a war crime by the former Vice President:
In fact, 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.
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.
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.
In addition to pretty much confessing it only solidifies Cheney's sadistic tendencies each time he appears on one of these programs. When the former Vice President goes on national television and declares that he is a big fan and supporter of torture, one would hope that in a country that prides itself on being a nation of laws, some action would be taken. Still though, the Obama Administration and the Holder Justice Department continue to take no action on an issue that so clearly needs further investigation and civilized society suffers. After all, if there is no punishment for crimes as serious as these, then there will be no deterrent when history repeats itself in the future. These are grave and serious matters and it is on this Administration to stand up for the rule of law no matter how politically difficult.
For those interested, here is the full ABC interview in two parts: