Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Did Cheney Just Admit War Crimes?

Watch these video and decide for yourself. Although Cheney says at the beginning of the ABC video (which has the entire interview) that we don't torture, he then goes on to say that he personally approved the waterboarding against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, which has been a war crime for years and punishable by death.

Watch the whole ABC interview here and then watch the video from Countdown with Keith Olberman below.

I am terribly offended by this. We must not let the Bush Administration rewrite history during their last 35 days in office. They committed crimes. Real and actual crimes. Crimes that killed people. Thousands of people. We went to war with Iraq based on lies that have been proven over and over and over again to have been lies.

We spoke out at the ballot box in November 2006 and 2008, but we are not done speaking out. We need to contact our Senators and Representatives and demand that the Bush Administration be held accountable for their actions.

We are better than who we have been the last 8 years. We must take this moral stand. The change we have demanded by electing Obama can't simply be a change of administration. It must be deeper than that in order for it to mean anything.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think that the Bush administration has denied that they have very selectively used waterboarding. What they have denied is that this constitutes torture.

    The Geneva Conventions aren't so clear. And although Hitchens, as a journalist, submitted to it and declared it to be torture, the fact that he volunteered to do it twice makes me think that it wasn't torture of the kind that the framers of the Geneva Conventions were concerned about.

    If waterboarding were clearly torture, then a journalist wouldn't have submitted to it--firstly because there would be no need to do it, and secondly because the fear of the procedure would be too great. And yet people do voluntarily submit to waterboarding.

    Olberman, in his desire to promote every kind of fascism and to defeat democracy around the world, has equated the tortures of the most horrible regimes in history with the Bush administration.

    His argument is clearly invalid.

    His argument is, essentially, "they did it, Bush did it, therefore we should not condemn them because they were not any worse than Bush".

    But that argument would only come close to being valid if waterboarding were among the worst things that they did. Without making that case, Olberman's argument is as fatuous as "Hitler loved his mother, Bush loves his mother, therefore we should think no worse of Hitler than of Bush".

    Furthermore, it is not clear that the people who were waterboarded were representatives of signatories to the conventions.

    I think that the interview raises an interesting question, if a government commits an act as a matter of public record, and the international community raises nothing but the most haphazard of objections, then should that act be considered, ex post facto, a war crime?

    Almost certainly the answer is no. Since there is no global sovereign (nor should there be), the point of international law is for nations to behave in ways that can reasonably be anticipated. So it is hard to condemn as criminal any nation that acts in ways that are announced and condoned.

    I don't think you'll have such good luck separating the House and Senate from the Bush administration on this issue, after all, the legislature has considered the questions raised by administrative actions and the Bush administration has complied with the legislative results. One of the big differences between the Bush administration and its predecessor is that the Bush administration has sought and obtained Congressional authorization for all of its actions.

    The Bush administration has pretty clearly taken the approach that they want to do everything that falls within their legitimate authority to keep the nation safe from terrorist attack. Inherent in that desire is the desire to go right up to the edge of what is allowed. This necessarily means that there will be debate about whether specific programs are allowed, which are near the edge. I think that waterboarding is one of those things.

    I think it probably goes too far, as does John McCain, but the Congress considered the question and decided that it does not. Although I disagree with the Bush administration conclusion, it seems to me that they have taken a thoughtful approach which is respectful of the competing obligations of the office. If I were President, I may have come to a different answer, but I am not the President. It is up to him to execute the office, and he has executed it faithfully, even if not in the same way that you or I would have done.

    We got a new Congress at the beginning of 2007. They debated the issue and decided, on balance, to let the Bush administration have whatever it wanted in the war on terror, while they focused on wrecking the economy as a Machiavellian ploy to help their Presidential chances.


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