Sunday, August 30, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via today’s FNS interview with Vice President Cheney:

WALLACE: This is your first interview since Attorney General Holder named a prosecutor to investigate possible CIA abuses of terror detainees.

What do you think of that decision?

CHENEY: I think it’s a terrible decision. President Obama made the announcement some weeks ago that this would not happen, that his administration would not go back and look at or try to prosecute CIA personnel. And the effort now is based upon the inspector general’s report that was sent to the Justice Department five years ago, was completely reviewed by the Justice Department in years past.


I just think it’s an outrageous political act that will do great damage long term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say.

That last quote is especially noteworthy, I think, because it suggests that there should not be democratic accountability for the actions of previous administrations. That because the job and decisions are “difficult” that, therefore, there should be no looking back, no judgments made, and that somehow managing to finish a term without being impeached means that no investigation can be launched. In short, he seems to be suggesting that once an administration leaves office that it can’t be investigated or that its policies cannot be reviewed.

It seems to me that if the future possibility of review by subsequent administrations means that there are second thoughts given to questionable acts then that is a good thing (in fact, it is part of democratic governance).1 In other words, in a democracy, members of the government should always be mindful of what might be said in public about their actions. Further, the only (or at least the main) way that the electorate has, ultimately, to hold a given administration responsible is via electing a different group of persons into office. All of this is rather fundamental to democracy.

h/t: The Political Wire.

  1. Update: along these lines I agree with Henry Farrell at CT:
    the more cautious that low-ranking CIA officers are about breaking the laws criminalizing torture in future, the better. I want them to be worried that they will be hung out and left to dry by their political masters if they break the law. This will give them a strong rationale to say no, the next time that they are asked to, and at least partially reshape the incentive structure in benign ways.

    Exactly. []

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25 Responses to “Cheney and Accountability”

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    1. sam hatfield Says:

      It seems to me that some one is trying to get out of trouble. Why would the Bush administration have acted on the report..duh! It’s about time SOMEBODY did it. What was done was wrong. These people were PRISONERS OF WAR. I don’t care that we don’t agree with their view, what was done to them was criminal. It has already been proven that education made the re-entry into the Taliban organization, what…2 out of 100! With torture, the re-offense is like nearly 100. We either live up to what has been said about the USA as reasons to attack us, or we dispell those reasons while we break our own laws. And scream when others treat our soldiers the same way.I’d like to see that the lawbreakers actually have to pay for what they did–and their bosses that ok’d it.

    2. Ray Andrews Says:

      Cheney’s pejorative charge that investigation of interrogation techniques on his watch is “political” would be laughable, were he not saying it with a straight face. The entire idea of a two party system is that one watches the other and reports to the world its transgressions. That is the very essence of our political system. It is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind (duh—checks and balances). I note that he spends much more time trying to degrade the investigation than claiming that he will be exonerated. I guess that means he has more sense than to beat a dead horse.

    3. Sternberg Says:

      Torture leaves a person broken in body or in mind. Our interogation methods did none of those things, but left every one of those who were interrogated, in full command of every previous skill and faculty. The newly released CIA reports tell us definitively , by name and date, that prisoners who resisted all other methods of interrogation gave us valuable information under enhanced methods, and that information saved American lives and allowed us to prevent further attacks.
      Our two party system was never intended to be an adversarial system. Our founding fathers never envisioned one party being a check on the other.

    4. Steven L. Taylor Says:


      A) We actually have not idea if these persons are suffering long term harm,

      B) Some of the techniques in question (including waterboarding) have been deemed torture by our own government in the past when used by other governments.

      C) We actually do not have a definitive resolution to what these techniques did and did not give us (nor can we know at this point whether the information could have been obtained through other methods).

      D) While it is it is true that the Founders did not envision parties as they evolved and it is also true that parties are not, per se, part of “checks and balances,” I think if you go back and read Jefferson, Hamilton and friends, you will find that from almost the get go they very much thought that their party/faction ought to be able undo the work of the other once they were in office. Indeed, Jefferson worked to his own partisan ends from within both the Washington and Adams administrations (in both cases, Jefferson was of the opposite party than the president he served).

    5. HS Says:

      If Cheney did not do anything wrong. why is he worried?

    6. John Says:

      This wolf must go to jail. Period. There are many reasons why he must go to jail.

    7. Sonny Says:

      From the Civil War, to the Vietnam War, and now the Iraq War the Democrats will do just about anything to secure an American defeat.

    8. Michael Says:

      Suprised that Cheney is still here and not at the world
      headquarters of Hallibuton in Dubai. No extradition

    9. Raymond B Says:

      Cheney and all others involved with approval as well as carrying out the internationally illegal interrogation methods need to be arrested and tried in the international court as war criminals. EVERY ONE of us is subject to these laws and America is not exempted.

    10. Rob Wilson Says:

      Fuck Cheney. Waterboard the evil motherfucker.

    11. Rick_VT Says:

      I say let’s leave those guys in the trenches alone, they were acting on orders. If a determination that these actions were illegal (and I believe they were), then we need to go after those that gave the order to commit the crimes up to and including ol’ Dick and GW. And, the standard international punishments need to be imposed.

    12. carly Says:

      Cheney is under the influence of his own ego. He will face the music soon and he knows it. There is a related post at

    13. June Amillionz Says:

      Was Cheney working for the Best Interest of the Security of the Nation ? This has to be the biggest joke of the year !!

    14. Dale Says:

      Add what Pelosi knew and all charges will be dropped.

    15. Roland Garcia Says:

      NO ONE is above the law. Period. The right is always talking about us being so far above the rest of the world. Why don’t we just behead some of the “terrorists” in public. That’ll scare em! America MUST hold itself to a higher standard.

    16. Vin Says:

      I never post things online, but I feel this time I must. Cheney has the I.Q. of a walnut. No I take that back, a walnut knows it’s job. After all the man did shoot his hunting partner.

    17. Jin Jan Says:

      Boy, it’s so obvious that Cheney wants the investigation to be stopped. WAr crimes are war crimes and those who commit them must be hunted down. Can America which is so unwilling and so cowardly in getting out the truth support the Nazi Hunters who are appealing to the German Government to seek out the Nazis for them? How can the federal Nazi hunters hope to revoke the citizenship of 86-year-old Egler of Bellevue, a war criminal, when the U.S. is shielding its own war criminals? For the U.S. to use lame excuses to stop itself from getting to the truth will make the American leadership in the world lose its credibility and integrity. The security hogwash had been used too many times by the Republicans to steel election votes. Calling ‘wold’ too many times is becoming ridiculous.

    18. Tom Morris Says:

      I just have a problem with Mr. Cheney (and other neocons) saying the Justice Department’s investigation is politically motivated. President Obama and other executive branch officials have said they do not think this will be a good move and most Congressmen/women do not want this to happen. If the Justice Department is looking into the criminality of the actions by a few CIA employess and employees of companies contracted by the CIA and former-President G. W. Bush’s administration, I don’t see why anyone has too much to complain about. I consider torture as crimes against humanity. This is as defensless as the NAZI approach to the minorities they were against. Just following orders is not a defense when it is very evident this is against the law. Religion is not a defense either.

    19. patrice berthomieux Says:

      okay i hate…. bush and Cheney…. i think they were the worst administration in modern history…. but i honestly support Cheney on this one ….they should move on and get pass this issue…they did what was best for the country…. there’s certain things that the CIA has to be keep secret this is the exact reason why the congress should not know internal affairs… everybody making a big deal out of this its a very big security issue

    20. Mark Boberick Says:

      The one making a “big deal” out of this is Cheney. He is a corrupt, self-serving,self-absorbed, profiteering war criminal and if anyone knows “politically motivated” intervention by government officials it is he. Deal with it Dick! Hope to see you measured for prison orange before all this is resolved.

    21. Emilio Says:

      This piece of excrement, Dick Cheney, is being afforded the type of diversionary assistance that only the complicit “Main Stream Media” can muster. If ours was a just society he would have been executed for treason and multiple war crimes, already. He should be thankful that a sizable minority of American people are such passive dolts, capable of swallowing and believing the lies he and his abettors, cronies, and sycophants liberally spew into our consciousness via that massive right-wing megaphone we call the “Main Stream Media”, and this minority will be a drag on the work that has to be done to ferret out the truth. I believe that we will get to the bottom of what these creeps did whilst they held the levers of power. I hope Obama will recognize that returning the country to the rule of law is about all he can do to rescue his legacy, in the face of vicious opposition he has encountered with the current crop of thugs, described as Republican, in everything he has tried to do for the betterment of our nation. What will not be acceptable from the Obama Administration is a piece of crap whitewash report as was seen from the Bush 9/11 commission.

    22. Greg Says:

      This is pathetic. How can you all sit here and say what we did was wrong. Had these prisoners not been captured they would have been out there thinking of ways to destroy us. Had we not found ways to get critical information worse things could have happened. No one can debate that useful information was obtained and that lives were saved, simply ignorant to deny that. The actions may have been illegal so what. IT SAVED LIVES.

      These people have no rights. Their sole purpose in life is to terrorize, hence the name terrorist. They don’t care if you obey the law or not, if you have a family and wife, if you love your 1,000 sq foot apartment or your house with a nice lawn, and whether or not you have a wonderful life. They live every minute of their life opposing what we have the freedom to enjoy.

      You would choose a terrorist over your fellow Americans?
      Drop the issue. Focus on real, immediate issues. This is some great scheme to distract us from our terrible economy and failing health care reform. Face the facts the recovery of our economy is 9999999 trillion times more important than the mental recovery of a terrorist.

    23. Jon Hellock Says:

      Dick Cheney needs to go to prison. He and so many others have gotten away with murder, embezzlement, theft and abuse of power. So many young men and women have lost their lives to support his and others lust and greed for money! If you weren’t guilty, none of this would bother you. However, it is clear he is beginning to feel the heat. Now, we just have to bring in Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremmer and Michael Chertoff to face their justice too. They too were responsible for the deaths of many young men and women to benefit their own personal gain.

    24. Raymond B Says:

      Well for once I am with the majority. Don’t know how I feel about that. ALL involved should be tried for war crimes the infamous majority rule say. Yes but how and where. The international court is the proper place and it will require the current administration to investigate (doing now), put together a proper package of evidence with both names and depositions of all of their interviews in a coherent manor then turn it over to the international court. They will review it and decide if a trial is in order. If so they proceed from there. ONE major point – Obama cannot pardon anyone including Bush (if he is on the list). The world and this country will not stand for another stunt like the one President Ford pulled for Richard Nixion.

      Crimes committed in this country is for our courts and there are one or two (tongue in cheek). I will just mention the one that upsets me the most. The takeover of the jobs we trained our troops for and the huge over pricing of the work performed. Start with Cheney’s old company and spotlight all of the companies involved. What I want is huge fines that cover the cost of our armed forces training and the criminal over pricing involved. The fines or at least the lions share should be given to the troops that had their jobs taken over leaving both psychological (wondering why they were considered incapable of performing these jobs during war time) as well as the damage to their careers by leaving there deployment tarnished by being removed from their duties. Be sure to include all members that fell during this disgraceful war effort trumped up by the administration and supported by Congress.

    25. Ray Andrews Says:

      One fundamental problem not addressed in this discussion is that all of our prisoners are not proven terrorists. We have no knowledge of how or why they were rounded up and imprisoned. There is a serious untold story there. It is bad enough that we may have tortured men guilty of terrorist acts. It is unconscionable that some were totally innocent, to the extent that they have been quietly released as long as they kept their mouths shut.

      The argument that our torturing saved us from further terrorist acts is as specious and disconnected as if we were to say it also prevented meteor strikes or volcanic eruptions in Indiana. Voodoo by torture?

      I’m with you, Rob. Fuck Cheney. Waterboard the evil motherfucker (I’m sure he will confess things that will protect our country from another Haliburton attack). If we’re wrong at least we will have done our best to protect our country.

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