Cheney’s memoir shows the importance of the law, not of torture

Getting Away With Torture

As written, the above linked article seems fuzzy, and its conclusion is vague, like a sentence that trails into “ah…”.

One can draw a different conclusion from the Cheney whooping and hollering about how vindicated he is by Obama’s policies (and he certainly is). It’s the conclusion that Cheney broke our laws so bad that they no longer work. We are now a nation of rule by fiat. Don’t like what the courts do? Toss the accused to a military tribunal and make up what’s permitted as you go. Government uses the secrecy privilege to shut down legal challenges and hide criminality. Hell, we even execute people we know are innocent to avoid the embarrassment of admitting a mistake. Once, criminals in government had the decency to be embarrassed about it and deny it. No longer. The mechanisms of the state no longer must obey the law, and the defiant sneering lips of Dick Cheney are the symbol of this transformation.

He didn’t do it alone, though. He had lots of help from Democrats and Republicans both, including Obama.

Our leaders – those in government and those with vast sums of money who are by default their bosses – have become impatient with the rule of law. Those pesky absolutes codified in law are just inconvenient, y’know? Cheney was the harbinger of a new era in governance: he was the man who dared say “screw it, we’ll write some get-out-of-jail-free legal babble and do whatever the hell we want.”

Obama was right to hesitate to prosecute crimes committed by the previous Administration. He was right to fear the fallout, because when one party – which may install the next President – is so thoroughly committed to discarding the law and doing whatever the hell it wants, then Obama can be certain that whatever they hell they want will be revenge, if he prosecutes them now. His hands aren’t clean; he has continued many of the exact same illegal policies invented by Cheney.

Obama does not want to spend his twilight years in a Federal prison. And he will, if Cheney is dragged before a court to face criminal charges. Count on it. Right wing heads will explode; and the next time they capture the Presidency, they’ll get him. Any pretext will do.

That’s the kind of nation we are now.

But Cheney is worse than Hitler in this respect. Even Adolf (unlike Bush & Cheney) didn’t cozy up to torture PUBLICLY and defend it in front of the media no less. The lessons of Nuremberg have been lost on this generation when 38% of Americans believe torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, etc. are OK so long as we (in Bush’s words) needed to ‘know what they were thinking’. In the end, I’m left wondering what was the point of beating the Nazis only to become just like them? For those curious as to how Hitler became acceptable to the German people, now we know–we have 2 examples staring us in the face.

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