Moral Low Ground

US Government

Dick Cheney Admits he would ‘Object’ to Iranians Waterboarding U.S. Citizens

Former Vice President Dick Cheney continued his whirlwind media tour promoting his soon-to-be released memoir, In My Time, appearing on NBC’s Today Show this morning and reiterating his support for torture.

Host Matt Lauer’s questions were just a bit more pointed than the usual softballs lobbed by fawning U.S. interviewers, but they were still pretty tame compared to what I’d ask Cheney if I ever got the chance to interview him.

Lauer raised the hypothetical scenario in which a suspected American spy was captured in Iran. He asked: “Would it be okay for the Iranian government to waterboard that American citizen?”

“Well, we probably would object to it,” Cheney replied.

“On the grounds that it’s torture?” Lauer asked.

“On the grounds that we have obligations towards our citizens, and we do everything to protect our citizens,” Cheney deftly retorted.

Lauer then asked him if his position was hypocritical, to which Cheney telling responded: “First of all, these [waterboarded terrorism suspects] were not American citizens”– as if that makes it okay to torture them– “Secondly, it was people like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who were a handful, 2 or 3, that actually got waterboarded. Third, we had good reason to believe they had information that we could only get from them and that they knew more than anyone else.”

To his credit, Lauer pressed on with his line of tougher-than-usual questioning. “You know though that if you were to conduct a poll in this country right now and ask people, ‘Is waterboarding torture?’ I think the vast majority of people would say it is.”

Cheney offered this pathetic reply: “And I would argue Matt that it’s important for us not to get caught up in the notion that you can only have popular methods of interrogation if you want to run an efficient counterterrorism program.”

For the record, there is no doubt that waterboarding is indeed torture. Even über-conservative columnist Chalres Krauthammer and former Bush administration officials like Tom Ridge, Richard Armitage and Republican politicians including John McCain say so. Japanese soldiers who waterboarded American POWs in World War II were tried and convicted for it. So were U.S. troops who did it to Filipino, North Korean and Vietnamese prisoners. A Texas sheriff who waterboarded crime suspects to force confessions out of them was sentenced to ten years behind bars. And international law makes is absolutely clear that the practice is torture.

I suspect that Dick Cheney is fully aware of this. But to cover his own ass, and the asses of the asses who were his cronies in the Bush administration (at least the ones he likes), he’ll never admit it. Dick Cheney is one cold son of a bitch. Why would a little thing like torture bother him?

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