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Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Friday 19 December 2008

by: Marjorie Cohn, t r u t h o u t | Perspective

Dick Cheney has publicly confessed to ordering war crimes. Asked about waterboarding in an ABC News interview, Cheney replied, "I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared." He also said he still believes waterboarding was an appropriate method to use on terrorism suspects. CIA Director Michael Hayden confirmed that the agency waterboarded three al-Qaeda suspects in 2002 and 2003.

US courts have long held that waterboarding, where water is poured into someone's nose and mouth until he nearly drowns, constitutes torture. Our federal War Crimes Act defines torture as a war crime punishable by life imprisonment or even the death penalty if the victim dies.

Under the doctrine of command responsibility, enshrined in US law, commanders all the way up the chain of command to the commander in chief can be held liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them and they did nothing to stop or prevent it.

Why is Cheney so sanguine about admitting he is a war criminal? Because he's confident that either President Bush will preemptively pardon him or President-elect Obama won't prosecute him.

Both of those courses of action would be illegal.

First, a president cannot immunize himself or his subordinates for committing crimes that he himself authorized. On February 7, 2002, Bush signed a memo erroneously stating that the Geneva Conventions, which require humane treatment, did not apply to al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But the Supreme Court made clear that Geneva protects all prisoners. Bush also admitted that he approved of high-level meetings where waterboarding was authorized by Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, John Ashcroft, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and George Tenet.

Attorney General Michael Mukasey says there's no need for Bush to issue blanket pardons since there is no evidence that anyone developed the policies for any reason other than to protect the security in the country and in the belief that he or she was doing something lawful. But noble motives are not defenses to the commission of crimes.

Lt. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who investigated the Abu Ghraib scandal, said, "There is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

Second, the Constitution will require President Obama to faithfully execute the laws. That means prosecuting lawbreakers. When the United States ratified the Geneva Conventions and the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, thereby making them part of US law, we agreed to prosecute those who violate their prohibitions.

The bipartisan December 11 report of the Senate Armed Services Committee concluded that "senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."

Lawyers who wrote the memos that purported to immunize government officials from war crimes liability include John Yoo, Jay Bybee, William Haynes, David Addington and Alberto Gonzales. There is precedent in our law for holding lawyers criminally liable for participating in a common plan to violate the law.

Committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin told Rachel Maddow that you couldn't legalize what's illegal by having a lawyer write an opinion.

The committee's report also found that Rumsfeld's authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques for use at Guantanamo Bay was a direct cause of detainee abuse there. Those techniques migrated to Iraq and Afghanistan, where prisoners in US custody were also tortured.

Pardons or failures to prosecute the officials who planned and authorized torture would also be immoral. Former Navy General Counsel Alberto Mora testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee in June 2008 that "there are serving US flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of US combat deaths in Iraq - as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat - are, respectively the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo."

During the campaign, Obama promised to promptly review actions by Bush officials to determine whether "genuine crimes" were committed. He said, "If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated," but "I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of the Republicans as a partisan witch hunt, because I think we've got too many problems we've got to solve."

Two Obama advisers told the Associated Press that "there's little - if any - chance that the incoming president's Justice Department will go after a

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Im sure this Marjorie Cohn and every other democrat does consider trying to keep americans from being killed as in 9-11 2001 a crime. That the terrorists have the right the obligation to further the democrat goal of giving this nation the united states of america to the terrorists. The c i a said the use of aggresive interogation probably saved the united states from more attacks like 9-11 that would have killed tens of thousands of american children women innocent people.
If any of you can read newspapers you will know there hasnt been an attack on american soil since 9-11.
You all know darn good and well that if this marjorie Chon or any democrat had beenin control after 9-11
there would have been nothing done at all to try and combat terrorism . This woman is like all demonics mush brained . Virtually every demonic in congress voted for the iraq war against Saddam Hussien. In the 1990's all of them said he had WMDS.
Bush and Cheny will not get out of washington when the ONE seizes power. And there will be no trials for them or any one who dares express opposition to him. He will do the same thing his namesake saddam did summarily execute anyone who says anything not to his liking.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Duane I hope you noticed that the article is called a
"Perspective" and understand what that means

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

That's true mike but you are still trying to sell it.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

11echo40 I retired from sales a good number of years ago, sure I could still sell, but prefer retirement.

You do have to admit it is more interesting then what Duane writes and it is also in English.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Two Obama advisers told the Associated Press that "there's little - if any - chance that the incoming president's Justice Department will go after a


Is this not a complete sell??

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Mike ivy everything i write is in english and it is pro american unlike you. You know darn good and well that you and every other regular on this board do not want the terorists islamic terrorists fom being stopped attacking and killing americans .

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Duane making racist suggestive posts is pro American, thinknot.

And if our government wanted to kill all terrorists like you say then maybe our politicans should step aside and allow our well trained troops to do their job. Oh I seem to remember that the terrorists of 9-11 were all Saudi's, why did we not invade Saudi Arabia? And what about North Korea, China, Malaysa, Philipines, Yeman, Iran, Turkey, Albania, Bosnia, Pakistan, Mexico, England, France, Germany etc..terrorits are in these countries also. Oh and what about our own home grown terrorists, and the ones who are not Islamic or Muslim ? Should we kill them also.

You want to kill everyone becuase they may be a Muslim by religeon.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Mike Ivy just who hired those terrorists that hijacked those airplanes and killed almost 3000 americans. I say it was Saddam Hussien who furnished the money. He had the money he was finacing terrorisnm in isreal. He had the motive. You are a Mushminded liberal that thinks everyone who kills americans are the best people in the world. Tghe 9/11 atttacks could have ben stoped if one jamie Gorlick female deputy atorney general had bo ruled that the F B I and C IA couldnt exchange information. Thwere is only one reason she did tghat. The democrat administration of Bl..job willie didnt want terrorism
stopped and now when the terrorists will have one of their own in the white house. Terrorists will be able to kill millions of americans with impunity. And you will enjoy when see your neighbors throats cut.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Duane funny you do not know that there was no evidence that Saddam had anything to do with 9-11 attack. If that was the case why did we go into Afghanistan first, then Iraq and leave Afghanistan an un complete mission.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes


I thought that you said that you wrote in English?

John R...

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

How do you people know there was no evidence hussien wasnt involved in the attack. Didnt he tell each of you personally. Of course he didnt take out full page ads in the NY T's. He know doubt expected a Klinton Gore response that he was used to democrats not doing anything. You guys are always ready to defend him because of the close ties democrats hand and have to any and all terrorists.
By hitting the al queda and taliban militarily. the bush administration was trying to knock them out. the U S had allies in afghanistan who did most of the fighting. Saddam Hussien had a lot of resources that could be used and were used against us and our allies.
Now i dont think that Osama is alive he hasnt shown his face for along time. you guys keep saying that he is stronger but you only say that because you want him, and the terrorists to defeat the U S. You're being true to your cause.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Duane: I don't know that there is no evidence that you weren't involved in the attack. I don't know that there is no evidence that Bush & Cheney weren't involved in the attack. I don't even know that there is no evidence that The Pope wasn't involved in the attack.
You see how it works Dufus! The lack of evidence does not constitute evidence one way or the other.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

Mad doc and as i said before the Mad in your name must be the original meaning as in mad hatter.
Saddam had the motive to attack the united states. In 1991 the United states stopped him from controlling most of the worlds oil supply when it stopped him from owning Kuwait and then Saudai Arabia. Or hasnt Hussien allowed you to read that?
You and the rest here are such american hating mush minded liberals . You dont recognize motive. You probably believe o j simpson is innocent of decapitating his ex wife and her friend. There was all kinds of evidence but the L A district attorney couldnt use it because the fires of Los angeles would have been visible for hindreds of miles. It is the same with saddam . Had he been allowed to remain in powere there would have been more attacks on american citys as there will be when Hussien obama takes control.

Re: Cheney Throws Down Gauntlet, Defies Prosecution for War Crimes

There would have been NO riot if OJ was Convicted. Every Riot LA went threw had something to do with the LAPD and LASO Heavy handed tactics against the People that they were sworn to "Protect and Serve".

In fact it was the sloppy police work of the LAPD and the Slam Dunk Attitude of the DA Office that Blew the OJ Case.

To Compare the OJ Trial to the 9/11 attacks is purely Idiotic!