Miraculously, Dick Cheney is still alive. He’s still alive and still the former Bush administration’s most visible and tenacious historical revisionist when it comes to the tactics it employed in the Global War on Terror. So, naturally, Cheney was thawed from his cryo-chamber and wheeled out by Mr. Smithers or who whoever the hell is responsible for keeping his flesh animated these days, for an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press on Sunday.
I’ve watched nearly all of Cheney’s television interviews over the years, and this one was probably his most psychotic appearance, chiefly because he was less guarded and less political than previous spots, highlighting how dreadfully cold and unapologetically malevolent he truly is. For the sake of posterity, and to make sure his backwards, immoral revisionism is squelched with full force, let’s go through the worst of the worst quotes from Sunday.
1) Cheney: “We were very careful to stop short of torture.”
This is not unlike a sexual predator saying, “I beat her within an inch of her life, but I was very careful to stop short of rape.” So, what Cheney is saying here is that his enhanced interrogation techniques (EITs) were almost torture, but not actual torture. Sorry, but almost torture is still a little torturous. In other words, we didn’t yank out any fingernails (that we know of) or employ the “Pear of Anguish” (look it up), but forcing a detainee to stand on broken feet for hours if not days apparently “stops short” of torture. Okeedokee. Cheney, John Yoo, the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) and the other administration architects of the EIT program somehow discovered a threshold between torture and almost torture — and it sounds like a completely random line. Their “almost torture” didn’t quite look like Game of Thrones torture with flaying or rats or castration, so it wasn’t torture.
2) Cheney: “All of the techniques that were authorized by the president were in effect blessed by the Justice Department opinion that we could go forward with those [EITs] without in fact committing torture.”
Notice Cheney takes no responsibility for the decision, while hurling Bush and the DOJ under a bus. So much for the party of personal responsibility.
3) Chuck Todd described how Majid Khan was subjected to rectal feeding, then asked if this meets Cheney’s definition of torture. Cheney: “That does not meet the definition of what was used in the program.”
Astonishing. What he seems to be admitting here is that interrogators in fact engaged in something outside the mandates of the OLC definitions, and if so, then those interrogators went rogue and… committed torture? Most rational people would say “yes” that was torture. Not Cheney.
4) Chuck Todd asked Cheney again if the rectal feeding meets Cheney definition of torture, and Cheney reiterated, “It’s what 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters did to 3,000 Americans on 9/11.”
It’s difficult to think of a greater example of cowardice than Cheney using the victims of 9/11 as human shields against accusations of criminal activity.
5) Cheney: “I believe [the rectal feeding] was done for medical reasons.”
Oh, thanks Dr. Cheney, MD. He said he read the report, but the experts cited in the report said there wasn’t any medical necessity for rectal feeding.
6) Cheney: “It [rectal feeding] wasn’t torture because it wasn’t part of the program.”
Wait, what? So, the program actually did involve torture? If it wasn’t torture because it wasn’t part of the program, then that implies quite clearly that the program was torture.
7) Chuck Todd described how Abu Zubaydah was kept in a coffin-sized box for 266 hours, and an even smaller box (21 inches wide, 2.5 feet deep, 2.5 feet high) for 29 hours. Cheney: “I think that in fact was one of the approved techniques.”
I don’t know about you, but to me, that’s absolutely torture. He didn’t know whether he was being buried alive (torture) or how long he’d be confined in those boxes (also torture). That’s on top of being crammed in the box in the first place, which would’ve driven me insane. I mean, literally. I would’ve come out of those boxes a drooling, catatonic mess. And this was approved by the Bush administration as a legitimate means of interrogation. I don’t care how guilty or how evil Abu Zubayhad was, America should be better than this.
8) Chuck Todd listed the names of detainees who were tortured but who were innocent, along with the man who was mistakenly detained, then “doused with water” and chained to the floor where he froze to death. This was Cheney’s immediate response: “But, uh, the problem I have is with all the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield.”
It’s a matter of record that the Bush administration transferred/released over 500 detainees from Guantanamo. Cheney didn’t mention that.
9) Cheney: “Today, we’re concerned about ISIS, a terrible new terrorist organization. It is headed by a man named Baghdadi. Baghdadi was in the custody of the U.S. military in Iraq in Camp Bucca — he was let go and now he’s out leading the terrorist attack against the United States.”
That’s true. But again, it was the Bush administration that released him. Here’s the Pentagon in a statement to Politifact: “Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim Al Badry, also known as ‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’ was held as a ‘civilian internee’ by U.S. Forces-Iraq from early February 2004 until early December 2004, when he was released.”
10) Todd noted that 25 percent of the detainees were innocent. Cheney: “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective, and our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States.”
If morality and innocence aren’t a problem, how about this: why don’t we kidnap the wives of world leaders and demand ransom or else? Better yet, we could detain our opponents and behead them on YouTube. As long as we’re protecting our interests, right? Screw morality. Screw the law. Does Cheney hear what he’s saying? And just because a dwindling minority of mouth-breathing rednecks are suckered by this nonsense doesn’t make it a legitimate, actionable strategy.
11) Cheney: “It worked. For 13 years we’ve avoided another mass casualty attack against the United States.”
And this is entirely because of EITs? Uh, no. This statement is an insult to every soldier who was wounded in Afghanistan — and in Iraq for that matter — and it’s a grievous insult to the families of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives in the war on terror. Frankly, it’s an insult to the broader intelligence community as well. There are numerous functioning reasons why there hasn’t been a second 9/11, and Cheney somehow believes that his torture program, which dozens of expert interrogators have said is ineffectual, is the only thing that prevented it. Put another way: there’s a lengthy roster of effective reasons for the absence of another 9/11, and Cheney thinks it’s solely the ineffective one.
There’s no other way to say it. He’s psychotic.