Surely it must be a sign that democracy has failed when a former Vice President can come on national TV and admit gleefully that he was fan of torture. Democratic countries pride themselves on being nations of law, not men. But when the political classes operate beyond the law and are not held accountable, it must be considered a crisis of democracy.
Torture is illegal. Torture is considered a war crime. Torture carries a heavy prison sentence. Yet Dick Cheney and his conspirators remain free. And not only does the former Vice President remain free, but he is touting his record as an advocate of water boarding, despite the current President's opposition to it and repeated assertions that it is torture. As Glenn Greenwald writes, Cheney's belligerence is political one-upmanship at its best:
In general, people who commit felonies avoid publicly confessing to
having done so, and they especially avoid mocking the authorities who
fail to act. One thing DickCheney is not is stupid, and yet he's
doing exactly that. Indeed, he's gradually escalated his boasting
about having done so throughout the year. Why?Because he knows there
will never be any repercussions, that he will never be prosecuted no
matter how blatantly he admits to these serious crimes. He's taunting
the Obama administration and the DOJ:not only will Inot hide or
apologize, butI will proudly tout and defend my role in these crimes,
because Iknow you will do absolutely nothing about it, even though the
Attorney General and the President themselves said that the act to
which I'm confessing is a felony.
From a legal point of view, Cheney should already be in the docks or in prison, but from a political point of view, it is devastating to Obama if he does nothing. Cheney is taking part in an orchestrated campaign of defiance against Obama, saying to the current Commander in Chief: You are not my President.
The more Dick Cheney, Fox News and Sarah Palin continue to spout their neo-fascist vision for America, the more the country gets divided, and the more difficult it is for Obama to govern successfully. While hoards of tea baggers protest every move Obama makes, the country falls that little bit further behind. The more Obama spends fighting off accusations that he isn't an American, is a closet communist/terrorist/Muslim/Atheist, the less time he has to deal with serious and real problems.
While dissent should always be encouraged, the cynical, corporate funded brand of revolutionary politics coming from the far right is a true danger to democracy. Dick Cheney is proving that on a daily basis, and his open contempt for human rights, law and order is a sign of what the Right has to offer. The world experienced 8 years of hell under his rule, and the thought of him operating behind the levers of democracy again is truly frightening. His appearances on TV are scary enough.
While Obama has ruled out criminal proceedings for those responsible for carrying out acts of torture, it might be time to reconsider. Starting from the very top.