The Saddest Man
I didn't think too much about Dick Cheney's speech yesterday because the framing of a "showdown" between the President of the United States and the least popular human on the planet just made me laugh. But this monstrosity probably should be read and studied, because it offers a window into a diseased mind and an object lesson in specious logic.
First of all, the speech offered no broad vision of dealing with national security in the 21st century, but was simply an opening statement for Cheney's war crimes trial, with a defense of torture and all of the other illegal practices of his regime. But because these practices are indefensible, he structured this defense with lies and distortions and paragraphs that were sometimes contradictory in the space of a few words. He mentioned 9/11 twenty-five times, and tried to re-create the atmosphere of fear and desperation, a world in which he clearly still lives, traumatized and desiring only to inflict pain. He continued with this idea that the Bush Administration kept America safe, except on 9/11, when nine months of ignored warnings and inattention produced the tragic wreck of that day. And even more people died in future actions in Iraq and Afghanistan than died on September 11, anyway. He takes credit for taking down A.Q. Khan's network when America had nothing to do with it and A.Q. Khan now walks as a free man. He talks about moving decisively against Al Qaeda when Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri remain at large, and when they pulled out of Afghanistan to start an unnecessary war in Iraq. He flat out lied about torture and its effectiveness on numerous occasions. He decried the Obama Administration's use of "euphemisms" when he was the one who INVENTED the term "enhanced interrogation techniques. He claims that Article II authority and the AUMF allows illegal actions. He CONTINUED - in this speech - to push a connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. He kept claiming that the work at Abu Ghraib was the result of a few bad apples and not policy, which has been disproven time and again.
And then there's the most clever lie:
As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won't let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I've formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.
It's incorrect that the President declassified the torture memos - the Justice Department did. And just a few paragraphs earlier, Cheney attacked the President for doing so. He only likes HIS kind of selective declassification. But one thing he knows - under an executive order by none other than George W. Bush, the CIA cannot declassify the documents he seeks while they are the subject of an ongoing lawsuit. Cheney knows this, so he can yap about the one document that would prove him right, knowing that it cannot be released. Cheney may have never seen the law as an impediment, and claims that Obama could insta-declassify whatever he wants, but he knows that the President won't choose to do so, allowing him to lie away about evidence that, by accounts of those who have seen it, wouldn't prove a thing.
But I'm really saying too much about this sad, pathetic man, trying to save himself from universal condemnation. Time has marched on.