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Former VP Dick Cheney: When is enough enough?

The truth always comes out. I was listening to former Vice President Dick Cheney the other day explain why torture, as a policy, is in America’s interest. He was not advocating carte blanche torture, just the torture “of individuals whose interests are against ours.”

OK, you say, he is all for protecting America. Now Cheney is not a stupid man, but for a smart man he is an awfully bad student (learning from the mistakes of others before him) and, what is worse, he is using his bully pulpit in the media to pervert reason for the next generation.

In Libya they have uncovered documents, payments, flight details of extraordinary rendition victims passed through Gadhafi’s security services by the British MI5 and MI6 as well as by our illustrious CIA.

In case you do not know what rendition is, it was a U.S. policy practice approved by Cheney to take captured enemies or perceived sources of information of our enemies and torture (often unto death) with techniques that are forbidden in the United States but that paid mercenary secret services of other countries would happily be employed for.

And, here is a vital point, Americans were still in charge of these torture sessions. OK, they were not on American soil or in uniform, and therefore were not breaking U.S. law, but American men and women were paying for, overseeing and conducting these brutal tortures.

As I said, the truth always comes out. NATO forces have asked the Libyan freedom forces to give them all these torture documents. It is worth noting that several NATO members have already told NATO Command that if the documents are turned over, they want them published, not suppressed. NATO stopped asking the Libyan freedom fighters.

Meantime, the likely head of the Libyan National Transition Council (NTC), Mustafa Abdel Jalil, is no friend of the United States. He is on record, for several years, of claiming that he suffered rendition whilst he was in U.S. custody, he was tortured and given a truth serum under duress (against the Geneva Convention, which we signed to protect our soldiers).

Jalil’s main opposition as interim head of Libya is the army  leader of the NTC, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, a longtime U.S. resident (near Langley, Va.) and a longtime protégé of Frank Wisner, the man who was the head of AIG and Enron and who co-wrote the plan for the war on Iraq (including privatization of the oil fields). I am not sure we can trust him, either.

So, we are in the process of forcing regime change in Libya. We did it there once before. There used to be a ruling royal family there who were buddying up to the Soviet Union at the time. As a matter of international and domestic law, we could not depose a rightful ruler of another country.

However, when a minor colonel approached the CIA and asked for assistance of getting rid of King Idris in 1969, we covertly helped (much like NATO is doing now, for “humanitarian reasons” bombing “the enemy”).This minor colonel won and became the supreme ruler of Libya from that day to this. Yes, that was us who put Gadhafi in power.

Like illegal torture not being performed on U.S. soil, we have never directly overthrown another country’s regime, well, not technically or at least not legally.

And here we are, faced with the likely prospect of a new leader in Libya that Cheney’s torture policy has already alienated from the United Statess forever.

So, I ask, is torture, even if not on U.S. soil, conducted by Americans such a good idea? Did that intelligence gained under duress prevent the harm to some only to ensure harm will be done for decades to so many? Will there be another Lockerbie because of these quick-fix solutions? Do our soldiers really have to be put in extra harm’s way?

Remember, the enemy makes no specious distinction between “on U.S. soil” and done by the United States somewhere else, with another mercenary country’s assistance. Are we really that stupid to believe they do not think it is America — and therefore Americans — who are to blame?

Peter Riva, formerly of Amenia Union, lives in New Mexico.


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