Cheney's Confession

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Memo to Dick Cheney: OK, YOU'RE EVIL.

So, pretty much from the moment we were introduced to him, we, by which I mean anyone to the left of Richard Nixon, have been referring to Dick Cheney in a joking way as a sort of demonic force. Darth Vader. A spawn of Satan. Satan himself. Prince of darkness. Basically, pure, unadulterated evil.

And there was always a bit of tongue in a bit of cheek with it. I mean, "evil" is a bit of an abstract concept, There's greedy and sociopathic and power-mad and all kinds of horrible shit people are frequently guilty of because people are awful, but generally speaking, "evil" is more of a shorthand for those other things than a real thing unto itself. I mean, Dick Cheney presumably loves his family and probably thinks of himself as, well, not evil, right?

The point is, despite all the evidence to the contrary, making a serious accusation of nigh-supernatural malevolence is not a charge I'm willing to throw around lightly. Which is why this exchange, from Meet The Press, is so shocking. Chuck Todd mentioned one incident from the report, where a detainee who was chained to a wall and doused with cold water froze to death in our custody. And the guy wasn't a terrorist, he was an innocent victim of mistaken identity, caught up in Dick Cheney's torture regime and tortured to death. Here is Dick Cheney's response.

"Right. But the problem I have was with all of the folks that we did release that end up back on the battlefield. I’m more concerned with bad guys who got out and released than I am with a few that in fact were innocent."

OK, that's bad. See, what humans do, even if they believe this, is that they perhaps try to argue with the facts of the case. Deny that it was mistaken identity, try to imply the guy deserved being tortured to death, because he stole some cigarillos or was wearing a hoodie or something. It's what even modern society's most heinous individuals do. They also pretend that what happened was, in the most common parlance, "regrettable". Indicating that it is possible for someone to regret it even if they themselves don't.

Dick Cheney does none of those things. He acknowledges that under his leadership, an innocent man was tortured to death by the CIA with a single word. And then says he's more concerned with "bad guys" getting released than he is with innocents getting tortured. Which isn't difficult, since he's seemingly completely unconcerned with the latter.

When people think that way, we call them monsters. Unless they're Dick Cheney and they're on Meet The Press, which is to politics what fluffers are to the porn industry. Except that fluffers provide a valuable service.

And even on Meet The Press, that response triggered a followup, reminding Cheney that one in four of the detainees we tortured were, in fact, innocent, and whether that bothered Cheney. And remember, this is a Sunday talk show. Dick Cheney could pretend it bothered him in the least sincere way possible and not only would it be believed, the prevailing news story would be how Cheney feels really really bad about the unfortunate result of his difficult, but necessary choices. But he didn't do that.

"I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective. And our objective is to get the guys who did 9/11 and it is to avoid another attack against the United States."

That sentence is terrifying on a number of levels. I don't even know what to make of his use of the PRESENT TENSE there. Those may have been his objectives, but they aren't anymore, unless our system is even more of a sham than the most cynical of us believe and Dick Cheney is still somehow trying to "get the guys who did 9/11". And of course, it wasn't Cheney who got the main guy who did 9/11, and it wasn't the torture that made it happen. But the whole thing is just fucking creepy. And deluded. And yes, evil.

Disregard for innocent life? Check. No concept of justice? Check. A complete lack of remorse? No doubt. For fuck's sake, the headlines after this use the word "defends", when the correct verb is "confesses". Confessing to war crimes, yes, but also confessing that he's every bit the evil bastard we thought we'd been caricaturing him as this entire time.

He literally gave the kind of interview that, for you old nerds out there, would have been the climactic moment of an Edison Carter interview, before he was led away in handcuffs by the authorities and then Max Headroom made a joke about how awful network television was. Which, even more than the hair, is what makes thhe old Max Headroom show so dated - it was produced at a time when Watergate still had us fooled into thinking journalism could hold the powerful accountable for their actions. That's how bad it is. We're living in a time that makes the 80s seem idealistic.

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