Former Vice President Dick Cheney this week released a new memoir, In My Time. Dahlia Lithwick writes compellingly that this memoir is yet another feeble attempt to reignite the debate over whether torture is wise policy, and in so doing, to try to legitimize a patently illegal practice.
This week Dick Cheney invites us all to join him again in a game he likes to play against the rest of us called Tedious Torture Standoff. He continues to assert—this time in his memoir, In My Time—that he has “no regrets” about developing the U.S. torture program, and he continues to argue—as he did this morning on the Today Show—that torturing prisoners is “safe, legal, and effective.” He continues to assert that he would “strongly support” water-boarding if actionable information could be elicited from a prisoner. He even says that different standards apply to torturing Americans and foreigners. Cheney is trying, in short, to draw us back into the same tiresome debate over the efficacy of torture, which is about as compelling as a debate about the efficacy of slavery or Jim Crow laws. Only fools debate whether patently illegal programs “work”—only fools or those who have been legally implicated in designing the programs in the first place.
Ltihwick goes on to observe that by not holding Cheney and the other architects of the torture regime accountable, President Obama has legitimized their behavior and elevated the torture debate. Because he has not been held accountable, Cheney is able to claim that his actions were legal. Addressing the fundamental role accountability plays in the rule of law, Lithwick writes that:
Torture really did become legal after 9/11, and even after it was repudiated—again and again—it will always be legal with regard to Dick Cheney and the others who perpetrated it without consequence. The law wasn’t a hollow symbol after 9/11. It was the only fixed system we had. We can go on pretending that torture is no longer permissible in this country or under international law, but until there are legal consequences for those who order or engage in torture, we will only be pretending. Cheney is the beneficiary of that artifice.
To read the full article, click here.
Alliance for Justice documented the radical justifications for torture in our short film Tortured Law, and continues to advocate for full accountability for those officials in the U.S. government who legitimized torture.