Cheney as Furor


Grabbing onto the coattails of the Washington Post‘s brilliant series, “Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency,” Democratic party activists and consultants are wailing that “Dick Cheney is a war criminal.”

I guess that makes the whole host of Democrats who went along with the regime’s march to war during the crucial Congressional votes of October 2002 “war schlemiels.”

Barefoot boy with sheikh: An Arab being tortured at Abu Ghraib, thanks to the brainstorming of Cheney (far right).

The Post series is indeed explosive. As this morning’s dispatch, “Pushing the Envelope on Presidential Power,” by Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, shows, Cheney and other top officials personally brainstormed how to violate the Constitution and perfect the torture of Arabs captured during the War of Terror.

Basically, Cheney acts as if he were a sheikh, kind of a Dick of Arabia. No wonder Halliburton, which continues to take cues from ex-CEO Cheney and kept paying a salary to the vice president through at least the first six years of his reign at the White House, has fled to Dubai. The United Arab Emirates is one of the most repressive regimes on Earth. Our own State Department says:

• “The law permits indefinite routine prolonged incommunicado detention without appeal.”

• “The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press; however, the government restricted these rights in practice. The government drafts all Friday sermons in mosques and censors private association publications. . . . The law prohibits criticism of the rulers, and from acts to create or encourage social unrest.

• “Organized public gatherings require a government permit. No permits were given for organized public gatherings for political purposes.”

• “There are no political organizations, political parties, or trade unions.”

• “Unrestricted foreign travel and emigration is permitted for male citizens, except those involved in legal disputes under adjudication. Custom dictates that a husband can bar his wife, minor children, and adult unmarried daughters from leaving the country by taking custody of their passports.”

• “The law does not provide to citizens the right to change their government peacefully, or to freely change the laws that govern them. There are no democratic elections or institutions and citizens do not have the right to form political parties.”

Otherwise, Dubai, where the world’s tallest building is being erected, is a great place. It’s the dream of people like Cheney. Business and government are one and the same. Most of the workers are foreigners — only 5 percent of Emirati citizens work. Development has run amuck. An oligarchy controls everything.

Burdened by an intolerable climate (as hot as Phoenix and as humid as Houston), Dubai is bursting with outrageous resorts. It’s a playpen for the rich — more like a sandbox.

D.C. isn’t the greatest place, either, and it’s also a playpen, as the Post series points out. From this morning’s piece:

Shortly after the first accused terrorists reached the U.S. naval prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, on Jan. 11, 2002, a delegation from CIA headquarters arrived in the Situation Room. The agency presented a delicate problem to White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales, a man with next to no experience on the subject. Vice President Cheney’s lawyer, who had a great deal of experience, sat nearby. The meeting marked “the first time that the issue of interrogations comes up” among top-ranking White House officials, recalled John C. Yoo, who represented the Justice Department. “The CIA guys said, ‘We’re going to have some real difficulties getting actionable intelligence from detainees'” if interrogators confined themselves to humane techniques allowed by the Geneva Conventions.

From that moment, well before previous accounts have suggested, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive’s will to resist. The vice president’s office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials.

Cheney and his allies, according to more than two dozen current and former officials, pioneered a novel distinction between forbidden “torture” and permitted use of “cruel, inhuman or degrading” methods of questioning. They did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government.

Hope there’s a special section in the George W. Bush Presidential Libary on Cheney. Actually, that library should be only a wing to Dick Cheney’s tome tomb.

Where were the Post and other U.S. media back in the spring of 2005 when the Times of London — one of Rupert Murdoch‘s papers — revealed what became known as the Downing Street Memo and other documents laying out the furtive plotting in 2002 behind the unjustified invasion of Iraq?