Cheney’s Torture Admission

Flickr/<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/worldeconomicforum/346731823/" target="blank">World Economic Forum</a>.


Andrew Sullivan is making a lot of Dick Cheney’s “admission,” in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl, that he was a “big supporter of waterboarding.” It’s not news, of course, that Cheney was involved with the waterboarding program—anyone who has been paying attention for the past few years knows that much of the impetus for the Bush administration’s torture and detention regime came out of Cheney’s office. But Sullivan argues that the admission of involvement, however off-handed, means that Attorney General Eric Holder is legally required to prosecute:

[T]he attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution…. Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.

Sadly, the treaties and conventions Sullivan holds so dear have already been rendered meaningless. The consensus among members of the political and media establishment seems to be that punishing anyone who oredered or sanctioned torture is absolutely unacceptable. Many news organizations can’t even bring themselves to call waterboarding torture. Digby cites this New York Times profile of Holder as evidence that “Dick Cheney could go on television and admit to personally torturing KSM on the rack and nothing would be done.” That sounds about right. Actually, given how blithely everyone responded to Cheney’s waterboarding admission, and given how many people seem to want to avoid trying KSM, I strongly suspect an admission of personal, direct participation in torture would redound to Cheney’s political benefit.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

Share your feedback: We’re planning to launch a new version of the comments section. Help us test it.