Cheney’s Justification for Torture Highlights How Very Different Obama Is from Bush


Obama never asked us to give up a major freedom so he could get Bin Laden. He just got him.

This is really all that needs to be said in response to so many things, not the least of which is Dick Cheney’s predictable yet still stomach wrenching attempts to justify abandoning democracy and our core values in order to achieve a goal he admits in the same interview was not achieved. Cheney was featured on Meet the Press Sunday to justify the Bush administration’s actions in light of the newly released Senate Intelligence Committee torture report.

The only person who achieved anything close to that goal was the same President whom Republicans accuse of being “weak” on torture, wherein “weak” means not a sociopath, but an effective eliminator of a major threat.

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Cheney told Chuck Todd, “I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective” when asked about the tortured detainees who were innocent. Does the former Republican VP regret it? “I would do it again in a minute.” As for former Republican President Bush getting off sans blame, his VP made sure to set the record straight, saying, “This man knew what we were doing. He authorized it. He approved it.”

No more playing dumb.

Republicans do not understand that values are not things you force people to give up in the name of fear. They are not things to be sacrificed in the pursuit of a goal. Living up to the value is the goal.

Even under duress, especially under duress. That is when values are tested. If they don’t hold up under duress, they aren’t a value.

There is no excuse for violating basic freedoms and laws. There is no excuse for violating human decency. Not only is torture not effective and thus inexcusable, but it is not legal. It is legal to kill people in war. It is not legal to capture them and torture them. The reasons for this are preschool level obvious.

Republicans want everyone to buy their line that this was and is the only way, and so they show violent pictures and repeat over and over again ugly, horrific things the terrorists want to do or have done. Yes, many of these things are real and they are horrific and despicable.

They do not justify us becoming horrific and despicable.

The response to horrific and despicable acts is to hold them up for the world to see so that we can all fight them as a unified force. To lead the way with some semblance of democracy. To shine a light in the dark.

Often the very people pushing torture and fear have never actually been in a situation where someone was trying to kill them. Dick Cheney took five deferments to avoid service in Vietnam and Slate reported that in 1989 he told George C. Wilson of the Washington Post, “I had other priorities in the ’60s than military service.”

I have been in a situation where someone was trying to kill me. I know evil.

I also worked enough with the military to understand the importance of allowing our troops to defend themselves, a point I am not arguing against.

Torture is not defense.

Obama got Osama and he didn’t ask us to give him a single moment of our freedoms to do it. He didn’t terrify us with terror alert levels or shun those who disagreed with him as an enemy of the state. He never used the horror to advance an unrelated political agenda.

Listening to Dick Cheney speak today on Meet the Press made me wonder exactly what agenda is at play when pundits accuse Obama of being like Bush. A person can’t be that ignorant. If a person lacks discernment to this degree, they either aren’t paying attention or are too ignorant/misinformed to merit a moment of precious time.

There are plenty of criticisms that can be launched at Obama, but to compare him to the Bush administration on issues of war or torture — or more broadly an “imperial presidency” — is a travesty of false equivalency that is near criminal in its obvious attempt to whitewash the dirty horrors of the Bush administration.

This was what the Bush years were filled with — emotional appeals used to cover up dark deeds. Hijacking of freedoms with fear. Lowest common denominator plays.

And it didn’t work. Not only was it ugly and demeaning to our core values, it did not work.

And that should be the end of the “torture justification”, but instead, our media is giving a platform and carrying water for the architects of the destruction of democracy once again. This is yet another reason why it’s hard to take them seriously when they claim they are only hyperventilating about a glitch in a website to bring affordable healthcare to everyone part of their job as the “fourth estate”.

Where is the fourth estate now? Where were they then? Bowing down to Big Daddy so he would keep us “safe”; aka, not safe at all and down several freedoms to boot. Well done.

Obama got Osama and he didn’t need to silence everyone who disagreed with him in order to do it. He didn’t need to give billions in government contracts with no accountability to family friends. He didn’t need to violate international laws to do it. He didn’t need to alienate several previous allies to do it. He just did it.

So it can be done, and does not require silencing of freedoms and abandonment of values.

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