Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cheney Admits to War Crimes.

I wrote yesterday about the fact that a bipartisan Senate committee had accused Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and others of authorising war crimes and I speculated that they probably would never be prosecuted for them as the US appears to apply a different set of standards when it's citizens break the law than it ever does when its political class does so.

Like Nixon, Bush and others will probably walk away without charge as the chattering class in the US political press will accuse any incoming administration of "partisanship" should they ever seek to make these criminals accountable for their crimes.

However, when I stated that I never could have foreseen an open confession from one of the perpetrators, even if, as he confesses, he claims what he's confessing to is not a crime. And yet that is precisely what Dick Cheney did when talking to ABC News:

He told ABC News he stood by the most controversial policies of the Bush administration, and urged president-elect Barack Obama to think hard before undoing them. Asked about the use of torture on terror suspects, he replied: "We don't do torture. We never have. It's not something this administration subscribes to."

Later in the same interview, Cheney was asked whether the use of waterboarding in the interrogation of the alleged mastermind of the September 11 attacks, Khaled Sheikh Mohammed, had been appropriate. He replied: "I do."

Waterboarding is a war crime, and more importantly, it is a war crime that the US have already prosecuted people for. Cheney, later in the same interview, comes seriously close to admitting that he authorised the waterboarding.

Here Jonathan Turley explains that Cheney's defence appears to be that he can't have committed a crime as no-one has charged him for it.

As Turley then points out, this represents a serious challenge for Barack Obama, as one can't have change unless there is a moral component to that change. What has occurred in the last eight years is an assault on who America believes herself to be. Bush and Cheney have taken the US so far from her founding values that her standing around the world went into free fall.

And if the US don't prosecute these people then the world community will certainly ensure that Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld can never leave the US in case they are arrested as Pinochet was with a view to, hopefully, dragging them in front of the Hague.

Sadly, I have no great hope that Obama will do the right thing in this regard and start some kind of inquiry into what were blatant war crimes, which the Vice President has now openly admitted to on national television.

Obama ran promising an end to partisanship and, sadly, in the US, when a Democrat talks of bipartisanship, that often strikes me as nothing other than a codeword for surrender. Bipartisanship, as we have learned over the past eight years, tends to be achieved when Democrats do what Republicans desire. It is never, ever, achieved the other way around.


Rachel Maddow reminds us that the US, during the Tokyo trials, sentenced people found guilty of waterboarding to death, and that this occurred during Cheney's lifetime.

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