Cheney Admits to Being War Criminal → Washingtons Blog
Cheney Admits to Being War Criminal - Washingtons Blog

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Cheney Admits to Being War Criminal

As I have pointed out periodically since 2005:

The War Crimes Act of 1996, a federal statute set forth at 18 U.S.C. § 2441, makes it a federal crime for any U.S. national, whether military or civilian, to violate the Geneva Convention by engaging in murder, torture, or inhuman treatment.

The statute applies not only to those who carry out the acts, but also to those who order it, know about it, or fail to take steps to stop it. The statute applies to everyone, no matter how high and mighty.


Indeed, even the lawyers and other people who aided in the effort may be war criminals; see also this article, this one, and this press release.

As Robert Parry - the reporter who broke the Iran-Contra story for the Associated Press and Newsweek - pointed out last week:

Cheney pronounced himself “a big supporter of waterboarding,” a near-drowning technique that has been regarded as torture back to the Spanish Inquisition and that has long been treated by U.S. authorities as a serious war crime, such as when Japanese commanders were prosecuted for using it on American prisoners during World War II...

He answered with an emphatic "yes" when asked if he had opposed the Bush administration’s decision to suspend the use of waterboarding – after it was employed against three “high-value detainees” sometimes in repetitive sequences. He added that waterboarding should still be “on the table” today...

Speaking with a sense of impunity, he casually negated a key line of defense that senior Bush officials had hidden behind for years – that the brutal interrogations were approved by independent Justice Department legal experts who thus gave the administration a legitimate reason to believe the actions were within the law.

However, on Sunday, Cheney acknowledged that the White House had told the Justice Department lawyers what legal opinions to render. In other words, the opinions amounted to ordered-up lawyering to permit the administration to do whatever it wanted.

This is not entirely surprising. In 2005, e-mails revealed that Cheney pressured the U.S. Department of Justice to approve torture:

Dick Cheney and his lawyer, David Addington, pressured the Department of Justice in 2005 to quickly approve a torture memo that authorized CIA interrogators to use a combination of barbaric techniques during interrogations of “high-value” detainees, despite protests from former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, according to several of his e-mails released over the weekend.
Indeed, Cheney is the main guy who pushed for torture in the first place.

Cheney is also the guy who made the pitch to Congress justifying torture.

A former director of the CIA accused Cheney of overseeing American torture policies. And Colin Powell's former chief of staff stated that Dick Cheney is guilty of war crimes for his role in facilitating torture.

Under any definition, Cheney ordered torture, knew about it, and failed to take steps to stop it. Therefore, beyond any shadow of a doubt, Cheney has violated The War Crimes Act of 1996.

Cheney is a Fugitive

As I wrote in 2005:

18 U.S.C. § 2441 has no statute of limitations, which means that a war crimes complaint can be filed at any time.

The penalty may be life imprisonment or -- if a single prisoner dies due to torture -- death. Given that there are numerous, documented cases of prisoners being tortured to death by U.S. soldiers in both Iraq and Afghanistan (see for example this report), that means that the death penalty would be appropriate for anyone found guilty of carrying out, ordering, or sanctioning such conduct.

That means that Cheney could be rounded up as a fugitive as long as he is alive, just like those old Nazis you see on the news.

Meanwhile, Back In The Real World ...

The mainstream media has repeatedly interviewed Cheney and let him say that torture works without challenging him with tough questions.

That's no different than interviewing Charles Manson and letting him argue - without challenge - that murder is a great thing.

In the real world - unlike in Cheney's bizarro parallel universe:

  • Torture has been used throughout history as a form of intimidation, to terrorize people into obedience, not for gathering information
  • The type of torture used by the U.S. in the last 10 years is of a special type. Senator Levin revealed that the U.S. used torture techniques aimed at extracting false confessions (see this, this, this, this. and this)

The United States of Torture

Unfortunately, Cheney is not alone.

An FBI email declassified in December 2004 states that Bush signed an Executive Order authorizing torture (here is the list of documents obtained through a freedom of information act request, and take a close look, for example, at this one, which mentions the "executive order").

An expert on Constitutional law said that only Bush could have authorized the torture which has occurred.

The general in charge of the notorious Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq said that Donald Rumsfeld and other top administration officials ordered that inhuman treatment and torture be conducted as part of a deliberate strategy. Pulitzer prize-winning Seymour Hersch agrees.

And torture is apparently still continuing under Obama.

By failing to demand that torture stop and those who ordered it - like Cheney - be held to account, Americans are complicit in war crimes, just like the Germans who failed to stand up to Hitler were complicit in crimes against humanity.


  1. Washinton's blog confesses to willful violation of Godwin's law and flees country.

  2. "The type of torture used by the U.S. in the last 10 years is of a special type. Senator Levin revealed that the U.S. used torture techniques aimed at extracting false confessions."

    Torture with the purpose of producing false confessions can have only a political end. The great masters of this evil practice were the state security operatives in Stalin's Soviet Union in the period 1936-1953. Once the politics were defined, the operation of the juridical system had mostly a pedagogical aim. In great show trials, persons otherwise considered above suspicion on such things routinely confessed to spying, sabotage and were just as routinely executed.

    Today, given the determined unwillingness of the ruling class to hold itself accountable for what in any other day would have been considered war crimes - the unconscionable act of aggression brought against the people of Iraq in 2003, a case in point - any difference in moral content between the torture inflicted by the Soviet NKVD in, say, 1938 and that by CIA operatives in this decade is perfectly negligible. What does it have to say about the moral filth running our country that they behave exactly as did Stalin's Politboro?

    Andrei Vyshinsky

  3. so who's going to make a citizen's arrest here? somebody please!

  4. ho hum, we are still beating the Cheney Bush drum over torture. The world is ready to collapse, the financial industry is a shambles, Congress and the Adminstration are jumbled mess that can't even tie their own shoe, or in some cases change thier own diaper.

    Unemployment is, realistically at 20 plus percent and going to get a lot worse under our present leadership. People care about where they are going to get thier mortgage payment. Not this. It is time to move on.

  5. "People care about where they are going to get thier mortgage payment. Not this. It is time to move on."

    And precisely how are these matters mutually exclusive, how is it that one should not be as concerned about the unconscionable physical torture of human being by these fascists as by their creation and conduct of the continuing financial crisis. Move on? Please. One suspects that you'd encourage Jews to forget about Auschwitz.

    Andrei Vyshinsky

  6. The legal defense as I understand it is that any law that would prevent the President or his administration from performing the duty of ensuring national security simply does not apply. Ensuring national security is a constitutionally derived power and no other law may contradict that. The assumption is that because the President is the Commander in Chief he is vested with the ultimate responsibility for the safety of the country. We will call that the Yoo defense.

    The interesting thing about the Yoo defense is that it flies in the face of the presidential responsibilities in Article 2, section 3, clause 4, which call for the President to "take care that laws are faithfully executed."

    This interpretation of the constitutional powers of the President was adopted by the Bush administration, but no effort has been made by the Obama administration to change that interpretation.

    No proceedings against the Bush administration will go forward. There is a decent chance of a pardon if they ever did. Any non-impeachment offenses against the US can be pardoned by a sitting Prez. Nobody wants to get grilled by their successor, and they've probably all done something they could get grilled for. Nixon got pardoned.

  7. Et tu, Washington?

    Aren't there enough fake headlines around in the MSM, already? Wishful thinking will not get Cheney before the ICC, hard work and determination will.

    I also note the commenter above giving himself away with the 'time to move on' schtick - that's such a blunt tool, 2010-wise...

  8. Isn't the real issue with Cheney's having the audacity to tout torture, without fear of repercussion, that Obama has stated he is not going to pursue the use of torture by the US, for national security reasons?

  9. Cheney will converse with you about approval. Obama, too.

  10. Your blog isn't interesting or unique enough to read, make a comment as a favor to you, so you'll make a few pennies, and then have the comment censored.

    How many readers and comments would you guess you lose with this policy? As I won't read the response, leave the commentary and your response for others.


    For a review of this topic that is not histrionic, check this blog.

  12. The attitude of "moving on" or "moving forward" without any consequences is just plain wrong. When citizens commit crimes, there's no moving forward until they've done time. But for those in D.C., they get away with whatever crimes they commit. So no on moving forward until justice is served. I'm thinking 20 to life for Cheney! Time to start building for profit prisons to house all those breaking the laws of this land for their lust and greed.

  13. Americans are brain washed and have lost their common sense about health care,out of control capitalism and looking after their poor. Unless they change they will self destruct as a nation.

  14. Why is every American afraid of Cheney?


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