Evil Personified


In an interview on ABC’s This Week, Dick Cheney loudly proclaimed, ‘I was a big supporter of waterboarding. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques’ and forever cast himself as an indictable war criminal who will never be indicted.   He has been assailed by the progressive side of the political spectrum for not only putting his foot in his own mouth but also for so clearly incriminating himself.  Cheney however knows he won’t be indicted and the simple reason is his logic is far more pervasive in the American body politic than any of us would care to admit.  It would appear the only opposition coming to his remarks is from people outside of government and politics who might possess the last vestiges of decency still have left in America; those people who believe in the American system and ideals and not those who merely spout them as a means to assuming a really nice paying job in government at taxpayer expense.

On all the websites that feature articles about Cheney so prominently one can always find letters or comments from people who ask why isn’t Cheney in jail, or why hasn’t he been indicted.  I myself have asked that question a time or two, but when reading another reporter’s take on Cheney’s remarks ran across this snippet

The “torture memo” and related legal opinions were considered so unprofessional that Bybee’s replacement to head the OLC, Jack Goldsmith, himself a conservative Republican, took the extraordinary step of withdrawing them after he was appointed in October 2003.

However, Goldsmith was pushed out of his job after a confrontation with Cheney’s counsel Addington, and the later appointment of Bradbury enabled the Bush White House to reinstate many of the Yoo-Bybee opinions.

Last month, Newsweek reported that Yoo and Bybee had avoided any disciplinary recommendations because a draft report by the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility had been rewritten to remove harsh criticism that the two lawyers had violated professional standards, softening the language to simple criticism of their judgment.

The weaker language meant that the Justice Department would not refer the cases to state bar associations for possible disbarment proceedings.

Despite the really sophomoric job that Yoo and Bybee did in supporting the Bush administration’s desire to torture, a job done so poorly that it was immediately tossed out by someone who replaced them, someone who was also a lawyer,  who knew the law and knew that the legal brief written didn’t have a leg to stand on and would not hold up to judicial review, members of the Department of Justice’s Office of Professional Responsibility would not phrase their criticism of such low standards in such a way as to punish Yoo and Bybee.  Instead those two gentlemen have gone on to lucrative careers, Bybee as a federal judge who might very well adjudicate terrorist cases he was responsible for jeopardizing with his justification for torture, and Yoo as law professor at UC-Berkeley without any consequence for advising a US administration to break the law!  That eventuality was made possible by career government officials who are not accountable to all the voices of disgust and anger at obvious Bush-Cheney illegality who have made it possible for all concerned to evade and escape punishment.  But there’s also this admission by Cheney himself

The reason I’ve been outspoken is because there were some things being said, especially after we left office, about prosecuting CIA personnel that had carried out our counterterrorism policy or disbarring lawyers in the Justice Department who had — had helped us put those policies together, and I was deeply offended by that, and I thought it was important that some senior person in the administration stand up and defend those people who’d done what we asked them to do.And that’s why I got started on it. I’m the vice president now — ex-vice president. I have the great freedom and luxury of speaking out, saying what I — what I want to say, what I believe. And I have not been discouraged from doing so.

The obvious implication is that Cheney’s reach inside the bowels of government is long; anyone not willing to accommodate those who have signed on to his belief in the validity of torture as a tool of foreign policy risks losing his or her job.  Similarly, if you are willing to cover for those who have broken the law there is some temporal reward for you.  Bybee was appointed to his seat as a circuit court judge  by Bush.  While he may be at the end of his political career Cheney still has  access to  many others who depend on politics, political good fortune, appointments and corruptible politicians and he seems quite intent on keeping those who agree with his torturous politics from any harm, professionally or legally, and they in turn are intent on protecting him.  So the fix is in and despite our protestations to the contrary, Cheney will not face prosecution because career diplomats, lawyers, intelligence agents and agencies have too much at stake and will do everything possible to protect themselves and their titular heads, i.e. the Cheneys and the Bushes,  Obama’s pledges of change and transparency nothwithstanding.  It’s sad that a constitutional lawyer now president like Obama has had his hands tied up by criminal politicians like Cheney who have no regard for the Constitution but such is the situation he finds himself.  Realistically, there is no way out; Obama’s position is intractable and for us progressives, the sooner we realize that the better.  Such is the cost of doing business with evil.

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