The Cheney Doctrine

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Dick Cheney in 108th Congressional Pictorial Directory
Dick Cheney in 108th Congressional Pictorial Directory

I don’t doubt that former Vice President Cheney would direct the CIA to torture terrorist suspects “in a minute.” That’s what he’s been saying in recent interviews.

Never mind that the United States is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Never mind that we don’t torture prisoners in U.S. jails and prisons, whatever their behavior. Never mind that the torture of prisoners violates America’s basic values of decency and justice.

Never mind that after World War II the United States and its allies hung those Japanese officers who had subjected prisoners to water boarding, among other forms of torture. As we all know by now, water boarding is a practice the CIA and its contractors practiced on prisoners.

Never mind that skillful, professional interrogators can coax information out of detainees without resort to torture of even threats. Curiously, the talents of such people weren’t enlisted.

Never mind that even CIA Director John Brennan concedes he has no way to prove that the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” succeeded in soliciting good intelligence from prisoners.

I guess it doesn’t much bother Cheney and others the CIA torture actually killed at least two suspects. Which might explain why the CIA destroyed the videotapes of the interrogations. At least we know of two deaths in this program that the Senate Intelligence Committee managed to document. Cheney hasn’t even expressed regret that at least 26 persons were wrongfully detained.

Torture is morally wrong. Period. The EIT euphemism doesn’t change that. It matters not a whit that half of the American people now tell pollsters they approve of the torture. What’s more, there’s no evidence it has prevented new terrorist attacks on the American homeland.

In fact, torture didn’t prevent the so-called underwear bomber from boarding a plane headed for Detroit. The Nigerian native’s bomb just fizzled. Otherwise, a couple hundred people would have been killed.

I imagine Cheney and other higher-ups in the George W. Bush White House might still blame themselves for not acting on the intelligence that suggested terrorists were planning the 9/11 attack. Maybe blaming themselves might help explain why their Republican supporters have been so critical of the Senate report.

The report mentions how a number of the CIA interrogators were deeply affected by the suffering they inflicted on prisoners. The report cited spells of crying and nightmares. Funny how growing up in this country can make you sensitive to the suffering of others.

It doesn’t take the CIA or the Bush administration off the hook that officials informed members of Congress of the abusive tactics. It would appear that the attacks on the World Trade Center
made some U.S. leaders forget their sense of right and wrong.

President Obama ended the practice of abusing terrorist suspects some years ago. Thank goodness. the national shame will endure.

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