I watch very little television these days, so I didn’t see ABC News’ broadcast of the Dick Cheney declaration: “I was a big supporter of waterboading. I was a big supporter of the enhanced interrogation techniques…” Later, I read the transcript and watched a video clip of the former vice president’s admission.
Dick Cheney must derive vicarious pleasure from images of physical abuse. Probably, photographs of victims from Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram wallpaper his bedroom, bathroom, and dining room. Probably, he DNAs into his whitey tighties when he thinks or speaks of “waterboarding.” And, probably, pictures of sexual humiliation and hooded and shackled prisoners kept in small cages are so stimulating that Cheney no longer requires a pacemaker to regulate his heart.
Okay, enough of these visuals.
My objective was to examine the acknowledgment—uttered with pride to a national audience from this man-like, malevolent fusion of cells that lied us into war and insisted on fixing intelligence to secure support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq, a devastation that has killed and injured thousands of our own and over a million Iraqis—and uncover a why.
So here it is: Dick Cheney is putting torture on trial.
The Bush administration maintained that the United States abided by international laws banning the use of torture. Untrue. The Justice Department conceived of its own particular interpretation of torture by allowing John Yoo, David Addington, and Jay Bybee to redefine it. The “Bybee Memo” focused on multiple techniques, many of which were considered torture, but Bybee waved his legal wand, allowing the abuses by the CIA. I suppose pain could be considered subjective, but one has to wonder about the twists and turns a man’s mind must travel to justify that a crime against humanity is really not that severe, not too harsh in its physical and mental damage.
We have become a nation scared stupid by the words “terror” and “terrorism” and “terrorist” and “enemy combatant” and “insurgent” and “hijacker” and “box cutters” and “shoe bomber” and “underwear bomber” and “WMD” and “enriched uranium” and “Code Orange” and “Code Red” and even “Muslim.” And, yes, numbers, “9/11,” “9/11,” 9/11.”
A late 2009 Pew poll informed that:
The proportion of the public saying torture is at least sometimes justified against suspected terrorists has increased modestly over the past year. Currently, 54% say torture is at least sometimes justified to gain important information from suspected terrorists, compared with 49% in April and 44% in February.
These figures may have changed with a larger majority believing that torture is acceptable after the Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab event of December 25, 2009 even though military intelligence experts state that enhanced interrogations are unreliable, produce no actionable facts, and actually inspire terrorism.
Self-righteous and controlling, Dick Cheney is counting on the acquittal of his baby, a monster named Torture, in a public court of opinion. And he’s winning. It’s not just the victims of our violence who have and will continue to suffer, though. Our humanity has and will, as well.
MISSY BEATTIE lives in New York City. She’s written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. An outspoken critic of the Bush Administration and the war in Iraq, she’s a member of Gold Star Families for Peace. She completed a novel last year, but since the death of her nephew, Marine Lance Cpl. Chase J. Comley, in Iraq on August 6,’05, she has been writing political articles. She can be reached at: Missybeat@aol.com