So, Cheney gave a big national security speech today (I’d probably characterize it more as a Torture Apologism
Speech). He summarizes most of the Bush years and then says:
So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort.
ONLY those two conclusions are possible? Must we think the Bush administration EITHER did everything right or everything wrong? Or can we not look and see that in some areas, they were right, such as centralizing intelligence gathering and going to war in Afghanistan, but wrong in deciding to get sidetracked in Iraq, lie to the American public and the UN, spy on Americans, and torture detainees? I mean, I minored in history, and the way we tend to judge history is to look at successes as well as failures in the life or administration of a figure. For example, FDR is known for many successes, but Japanese Internment was a definite FAIL.
Cheney predictably continues to lie about torture- claiming it was only used after other methods failed, claiming it worked to produce reliable intelligence, both of which we know aren’t true. He also falsely claims that such methods were legal. He continues to claim that those who want war criminals to be prosecuted are seeking to criminalize “political disagreements.” I just don’t get how anyone can continue to act like there is gray area here. The US has ALWAYS had a policy of not torturing. Waterboarding and other techniques used are clearly, historically and legally, defined as torture. Breaking the law is a crime. Crimes should be punished to ensure they are not committed again. Period.
I find it strange, especially, that Cheney calls for the declassification of more memos almost immediately after criticizing the Obama administration for releasing the initial torture memos. Would not the best way to get the fullest picture of everything that went on be to have an independent investigation, rather than waiting on information to tricle out, declassified memo by memo? I mean, we had an independent investigation into whether or not Bill Clinton lied about an extramarital affair. I’d say whether or not a president broke the law concerning torture is certainly equally worthy of probing.
Another thing I especially love is a criticism of euphemisms coming from a man who continues to use the phrase “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques.” He says:
You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.
Cheney also recycles the scaremongering concerning “relocating terrorists into the United States” aka prosecuting and imprisoning them as in fact the Bush Administration itself did multiple times with terrorists.
Finally, Cheney flogs the “WE KEPT YOU SAFE” trope:
To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed.
The Bushies and their loyalists always act like 9/11 just HAPPENED. Like there was no reason that they should have been concerned that such a thing might occur. Like they share no blame for not keeping us safe ON 9/11 instead of just afterward. I mean, I get that it was just September of their first year of the presidency. But you don’t really get to make “rookie mistakes” like having a major terrorist attack on the United States happen on your watch and get off scot free. It just doesn’t work like that. Every time I hear about how there was never another attack on the US mainland after 9/11 as some attempt to pat Bush on the back, I feel like yelling “BUT WHAT ABOUT 9/11?”