For those of you who may have missed it, Vice President Dick Cheney recently admitted on TV to Jonathan Karl of ABC news that he in fact did authorize the use of torture techniques such as waterboarding and other forms of torture. The dialogue went like this:
KARL: Did you authorize the tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
CHENEY: I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn’t do. And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it.
KARL: In hindsight, do you think any of those tactics that were used against Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others went too far?
CHENEY: I don’t…
KARL: And on KSM, one of those tactics, of course, widely reported was waterboarding. And that seems to be a tactic we no longer use. Even that you think was appropriate?
CHENEY: I do.
And just for those who may have not realized, but waterboarding “…has been defined as torture by the United States since at least 1903, the first military court-martial. The United States views waterboarding conducted for intelligence purposes during wartime as a war crime, and it has prosecuted both civilian and military figures involved in the chain of approval of its use. Penalties applied have ranged up to the death penalty. The crime is chargeable under the War Crimes Act and under the Anti-Torture Statute. There is no ambiguity or disagreement among serious lawyers on this part, and Cheney’s suggestion that what he did was lawful and vetted is the delusional elevation of political hackery over law.” This clarification and public service details from Harper’s Scott Horton.
I leave you with a statement from Major General Anthony Taguba (Ret.), a man who was forced to retire because of his statements about the Abu Grhaib prison, as published in a recent report for Physicians for Human Rights
“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 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.“
UPDATE: David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University Law Center, has written a new piece in the New York Review of Books called ‘What To Do About The Torturers’ which examines 3 books that detail America’s torture program and its proceedings. The books also provide us with details that yet again confirm the collaboration and support of the highest members of the Bush administration in the institution and functioning of the torture program at various sites in the USA and abroad.
UPDATE: Scott Horton at Harper’s has written an extensive piece Justice After Bush about the need for, and alternative ways, to prosecute the Bush administration that ‘… did more than commit crimes. It waged war against the law itself. It transformed the Justice Department into a vehicle for voter suppression, and it also summarily dismissed the U.S. attorneys who attempted to investigate its wrongdoing. It issued wartime contracts to substandard vendors with inside connections, and it also defunded efforts to police their performance. It spied on church groups and political protesters, and it also introduced a sweeping surveillance program that was so clearly illegal that virtually the entire senior echelon of the Justice Department threatened to (but did not in fact) tender their resignations over it. It waged an illegal and disastrous war, and it did so by falsely representing to Congress and to the American public nearly every piece of intelligence it had on Iraq.’