Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dick Cheney: "I Was a Big Supporter of Waterboarding"

Cheney is almost goading the Obama administration.

His daughter has long ran from TV station to TV station demanding that the US commit war crimes, but here Cheney walks right into a TV studio and admits that he personally favoured the war crime of waterboarding.

A crime which the US have already prosecuted people for.

The United States knows quite a bit about waterboarding. The U.S. government -- whether acting alone before domestic courts, commissions and courts-martial or as part of the world community -- has not only condemned the use of water torture but has severely punished those who applied it.

After World War II, we convicted several Japanese soldiers for waterboarding American and Allied prisoners of war.
He's doing this because he knows that the Obama administration will never prosecute him. And, by being so blatant and so public about what he has done, he is making it more likely that future Republican administrations can do the same as he did. They will be able to point back to Cheney's boasting and say: "Dick Cheney made no secret of what he did and he was never prosecuted, so how can you say that this is illegal?"

In courts of law this is known as precedence, and Cheney is being very blunt about establishing his.


Glenn Greenwald makes the exact same point:
What would stop a future President (or even the current one) from re-authorizing waterboarding and the other Bush/Cheney torture techniques if he decided he wanted to? Given that both the Bush and Obama administrations have succeeded thus far in blocking all judicial adjudications of the legality of these "policies," and given that the torture architects are feted on TV and given major newspaper columns, what impediments exist to prevent their re-implementation?
They are allowed to make these points on national TV as if what we are witnessing are mere policy differences. War crimes are surely not going to be portrayed in such a fashion? And yet, routinely on American TV shows, people like O'Reilly insist that Obama is endangering America because he has said that he will not permit "enhanced interrogation", the present Republican euphemism for torture.

By not prosecuting, Obama is allowing this misperception- that waterboarding is not a crime, it's simply a policy which the Democrats choose not to practice - to take root.

It's a dangerous precedent which Obama is allowing. And it's one which the neo-cons will, in future, exploit.

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