Wanting for some way to respond to Dick Cheney's latest bluster-fest this past weekend, I've been chipping in my two cents worth in the comments section of a Peter Beinart essay at The Daily Beast, "Cheney's Real Enemy is Bush."
Beinart notes how, "the vice president — aided by his old friend Donald Rumsfeld, and his key aides Scooter Libby and David Addington — got Bush to pursue a war on terror largely outside the law [emphasis added]."
And how is it, I wonder, that someone who plotted and waged an aggressive war; someone who, according to Major General Antonio Taguba, "authorized a systematic regime of torture," continues to receive such political and journalistic deference?
Commenting as Manonfyre:
Mr. Richard Bruce Cheney, the congressional Republicans who "parrot" his words, and a certain segment of the American electorate are engaged in the politics of blood lust in response to the horrors of 9/11.
The former Vice President acted, and continues to advocate acting, "largely outside the law." And we're not talking about nagging little legal technicalities, here.
The concept of "the laws of war" may be perplexing to many. Yet, in the wake of WWII, a global conflagration that killed 60-80 million people, "the greatest generation" codified unambiguous, black-letter laws regarding "crimes against peace and humanity," including wars of aggression and torture.
In a charge to the Northern Expeditionary Force, Sept. 14, 1775, General George Washington, Commander of the Continental Army, stated the following:
"Should any American soldier be so base and infamous as to injure any [prisoner]. . . I do most earnestly enjoin you to bring him to such severe and exemplary punishment as the enormity of the crime may require. Should it extend to death itself, it will not be disproportional to its guilt at such a time and in such a cause... for by such conduct they bring shame, disgrace and ruin to themselves and their country."
Lincoln, too, forbade any form of torture or cruelty against captive prisoners of war, and stated, "If torture isn't wrong, then nothing is wrong."
But good ol' Dick, here, implemented a widespread regime of torture and cruelty throughout CIA and US military detention facilities -- a moral and criminal horror show that even led, in dozens of reported instances, to the torture murders of captive prisoners. We know, too, that much of torture was conducted, not to elicit "actionable intelligence," but to force false confessions regarding the "Big Lies" we were told about non-existent WMDs and links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda -- the false justifications for plotting and waging a war of aggression -- the false justifications for committing "the supreme international crime [~Robert H. Jackson]."
Slobodan Milosevic and Pinochet and others, for a time, had their political supporters and evaded justice, too.
Reply by Trueconserv:
Uh, Linclon jailed many who disagreed with him. Both Washington and Lincoln held military tribunals. We've held them since the Revolutionary War.
And FYI - the military gets waterboarded for training purposes. Seems we gained actionable intell from the guys who were waterboarded and it saves thousands of lives.
Another FYI - Saddam DID use WMD's, just ask the U.N.and thousands of Kurds and Iranians. You idiot.
Follow-on comment as Manonfyre:
Mr., "Uh," True,
There is a clear historical record of the United States regarding and prosecuting the use of water torture as a war crime. See, for example, "Drop by Drop: Forgetting the History of Water Torture in U.S. Courts," by Evan Wallach.
" ... following World War II, war crime trials were convened [the International Military Tribunal for the Far East]. The Japanese were tried and convicted and hung for war crimes committed against American POWs. Among those charges for which they were convicted was waterboarding."
~ John McCain on Thursday, November 29th, 2007 in a campaign event in St. Petersburg
In US vs Parker, et al, the Reagan Justice Department prosecuted San Jacinto County [Texas] Sheriff James Parker and three of his deputies -- Carl Lee, Floyd Allen Baker and John Glover -- for waterboarding prisoners to extract confessions. The deputies were sentenced to 4 years in prison. Sheriff Parker got a 10-year sentence.
The point of subjecting SERE trainees to waterboarding is to acquaint them with what they might be in for, if they are captured, and their captors subject to this form of criminal torture.
And, would that the monstrous abuse of detainees in US custody, orchestrated by Cheney, et al, was confined to "mere" waterboarding.
From, "Down a Dark Road," by Washington Post Staff Writer, Richard Leiby:
"In 2002, a young Afghan taxi driver named Dilawar, who'd never spent a night away from his dusty little village, got lost in the fog of war and took a wrong turn into an abyss from which he would never return. It was a detention center at Bagram Air Base, where he was grilled on suspicion of being a Taliban fighter. Military interrogators hung him from a cage in chains, kept him up all night and kicked him senseless, turning his legs into pulp.
He lasted only five days. . . It turned out that Dilawar (who, like many Afghans, used only one name) was not an enemy fighter, had no terrorist connections and had committed no crime at all."
It's said that his arms dislocated from their sockets and "flapped like a bird's broken wings, when he taken down for interrogation." As he hung from the ceiling, he was subjected to numerous "peroneal" knee strikes, over the course fo several days, that rendered the musculature of his thighs to mush. A death certificate signed by military pathologist, Lt. Col. Elizabeth A. Rouse of the Air Force, ruled his "manner of death" as "homicide," not "natural," "accident," or "suicide" -- the result of the abuse he received from the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion of the US Army.
His torture murder is but one among many. Summaries of similar DOD autopsy reports can be seen here:
[the fourth entry on this list is probably Dilawar's]
"Deaths of Detainees in the Custody of U.S. Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2002 to 2005," a peer-reviewed study published by Medscape General Medicine, found that, among 112 recorded deaths, "homicide" was the leading cause of death.
"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration [Bush/Cheney] 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. . . The commander in chief [Bush] and those under him [Cheney, et al] authorized a systematic regime of torture."
~ Major General Antonio Taguba, in the preface to, "Broken Laws, Broken Lives"
Simple-minded calculations of "moral equivalence" are no defense, sir.
And yet, our nation's mad holiday from the rule of law continues.