Attorney General Mukasey Ignores the Facts and the Law

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Cheney Admits to Approving Torture
by Carol Jensen

While President Bush and his little band of accomplices have hit the television circuit in a futile attempt at a last-minute revamping of his disastrous presidency, the other half of this destructive-duo, Dick Cheney, has taken a totally different approach that might be labeled the in-your-face confession exit interviews.

Cheney, on ABC News, confessed openly that he took part in ordering aggressive interrogation techniques including waterboarding. It appears that the vice president, in his personal quest to transform his office as outlined by the Constitution, has gone over the edge when it comes to America's tradition that no one is above the law and has placed himself in a position that he certainly should not be bragging about on national television.

During the ABC News interview, Cheney was asked directly about the torture technique known as waterboarding. He replied that, "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared." He was adamant in his belief that waterboarding was a valid method of interrogation that was appropriate to use on terrorism suspects. This indeed presents a strange twist for the Bush Administration in that they have repeatedly stated that they have not tortured anyone.

But of course Vice President Cheney refuses to acknowledge that courts in the United States of America, where the rest of us live, have long held that waterboarding is in fact defined as torture. Waterboarding is an outlawed interrogation technique where water is poured into someone's nose and mouth until he or she nearly drowns. The federal War Crimes Act does in fact define torture of this sort as a war crime punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim happens to die during a torture session.

Under U.S. law, anyone can and should be held accountable, even the vice president, if he knew that any one of his subordinates did or might commit a war crime and he failed to act to prevent or stop that act from taking place.

Cheney's recent comments are the first in which he has directly acknowledged that he personally played a pivotal role in approving the CIA's use of numerous and controversial interrogation techniques after Sept. 11. Cheney almost seemed proud of his participation with CIA operatives when he said that the CIA officials "in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do. They talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it," as was reported by the Associated Press.

The vice president needs to be reminded that torture has been banned by both international treaties, which the United States signed on to (the Geneva Conventions), as well as by the aforementioned United States law, which has with good foresight included torture bans in the United States Criminal Code.

Is Dick Cheney now vocalizing in public the fact that orders to torture in the ongoing "war on terror" came from the top down, and were not merely perpetrated by a small group of rogue underlings as the public was initially led to believe? Is the vice president making it imperative that President Bush should include his name on the list of those to be preemptively pardoned before he leaves office on Jan. 20? The American public does not have long to wait before we find out. The fact that Cheney has contradicted the president so openly makes one wonder what else he could possibly have on his mind.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey insists that there is no need for Bush to pardon anyone because there is no evidence that anyone developed the policies "for any reason other than to protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful." But as Lt. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, said, "There is no longer doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account," as was reported by Marjorie Cohn at Common Dreams.

The actions taken during the Bush-Cheney Administration have not, in fact, as the vice president claimed in his ABC News interview, destroyed al Qaeda and saved American lives, but rather have had quite the opposite effect. Al Qaeda numbers have grown and attacks on U.S. troops increased. And the intelligence community has for decades known that information obtained during torture sessions is unreliable at best. Never mind that torture is a war crime.

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This page contains a single entry published on December 28, 2008 9:09 PM.

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