Former Vice President Dick Cheney came out this weekend in an interview with ABC’s Jonathan Karl to proclaim “I was a big supporter of waterboarding.” It is an astonishing public admission since waterboarding is not just illegal but a war crime. It is akin to the Vice President saying that he supported bank robbery or murder-for-hire as a public policy.
The ability of Cheney to openly brag about his taste for torture is the direct result of President Barack Obama blocking any investigation or prosecution of war crimes. For political reasons, Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have refused to carry out our clear obligations under international law to prosecute for such waterboarding. Indeed, before taking office, various high-ranking officials stated that both Obama and Holder assured them that they would not allow such prosecutions. While they denied it at the time, those accounts are consistent with their actions following inauguration.
By the way, this is the same man who insisted that acknowledging waterboarding was barred under national security laws — a position accepted by ranking Democrats who were eager to avoid the issue during the Bush Administration.
We have now come to this: a Vice President who feels perfectly comfortable in bragging out his support for a torture program. It is a moment that is more of an indictment of Obama than (the unindicted) Cheney. It is fruit that comes from an Administration that chose politics over principle — even at the cost of precedent forged in the Nuremberg trials and the Geneva Conventions. Cheney’s statement should be a moment of unspeakable national shame.
For the full interview, click here.