Dick Cheney Will Destroy Us All:
Oh, for the days when Dick Cheney was Secretary of Defense, when he was only a demi-demon in the hierarchy of Hades. Back then, in the adminstration of Bush the Less Stupid, he could appear on a show like CBS This Morning on January 21, 1991 and tell Paula Zahn, in reference to Iraq's "plan" to use American POWs as human shields, "Iraq is party to the Geneva Convention. They have a solemn legal obligation to abide by the Geneva Convention, in terms of the treatment of prisoners. To do anything else would, in fact, constitute a war crime." Man, it was nice when Cheney could say with a straight face (well, let's be fair: it's Cheney - his face always has a semi-stroke victim crooked sag), "[W]e hold Iraqi prisoners. I expect we're going to hold a lot more, before this is over with. We will treat them in accordance with the Geneva Convention."

How fuckin' nice it must have been, back in that first Gulf War, when the moral high ground didn't seem quite as Everest-like, so that Cheney could say, in reaction to the parading of American POWs on TV by Iraq, gleefully broadcast by the American media, "To exploit prisoners the way he is doing is a clearcut violation of the Geneva convention and in effect is a war crime."

Or that Cheney's British counterpart, Defense Minister Tom King could intone at a press conference on that cold January day, without it seeming ironic, "I would therefore like to make absolutely clear that any attempt to parade or display prisoners of war is a total breach of the Geneva Convention, that any attempt at physical or mental torture or coercion to try and compel people to say things which they would otherwise not wish to say is a total breach of the Geneva Convention." Oh, how charming, how quaint, even.

Of course, to assert any kind of moral authority in that war would require us to disregard the many and sundry atrocities committed by the United States during that first Gulf War, like, you know, burying perhaps thousands of Iraqi soldiers alive in the desert, the indiscriminate bombing of civilians, the "turkey shoots" of unarmed civilians, but, you know, for the sake of argument, let's just say that those war crimes are "the-type-of-shit-that-happens-during-war-you-pussy-pacifists" or some such bullshit. And then, voila, we have the moral authority because we didn't actively enact a policy of torture.

But this isn't about torture, per se, as much as it's about Dick Cheney, whose career of criminality is nicely summarized by James Carroll in the Boston Globe. Dick Cheney is a moral and ethical vacuum in a couple of senses: he not only is completely devoid of anything that stinks of morals and ethics, but proximity to him actually results in Cheney sucking away the moral and ethical souls of those around him, making him stronger, more sinister, and emboldening him to stretch his viper tentacles to engorge on the sweet meat of the entire national identity so that it might be demonically remade in his depraved image. Back in the old days, he'd have been the Inquisitor who fucked young Jewish boys while the screams of their fathers being sodomized with hot pokers (under his orders) created the romantic soundtrack for his throbbing, unabated lust. It is a rare thing, indeed, to be able to so clearly and unabashedly point one's finger and name evil, and that is something we can, of course, do with Dick Cheney.

You may ask, How does the Rude Pundit know that Dick Cheney is most assuredly evil? And the Rude Pundit would stare at you for a moment before slapping you and saying, "Well, duh." Here's the Washington Post this morning: "Over the past year, Vice President Cheney has waged an intense and largely unpublicized campaign to stop Congress, the Pentagon and the State Department from imposing more restrictive rules on the handling of terrorist suspects." This is how evil gets done - through phrases like "more restrictive rules." Because in order to believe that the Congress, et al, want to be "more restrictive," you have to believe that decades of U.S. policy on torture have been wrong. In fact, the idea of "restriction" sounds like we wanna tickle prisoners with feathers and offer them blow jobs for information (which would probably be more effective than a fluorescent tube up the anus).

Has any reporter actually looked at the Army Field Manual's guide to the interrogation process, the one that John McCain wants the United States to follow again? In Appendix H, on "Approaches," it lays out pretty clearly how intense an interrogation can get: "In the fear up (harsh) approach, the interrogator behaves in a heavy, overpowering manner with a loud and threatening voice. The interrogator may even feel the need to throw objects across the room to heighten the source's implanted feelings of fear. Great care must be taken when doing this so that any actions taken would not violate the Geneva Conventions. This technique is to convince the source that he does indeed have something to fear and that he has no option but to cooperate." Not harsh enough for you? Then fuck it - go live in Uzbekistan and boil your heart away.

When the President of the United States said today in Panama that "We do not torture," he prefaced it by saying, "We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law." In other words, by definition, as long as we are trying to find out shit about terrorists, it doesn't constitute torture. Is that not a vast narrowing of the definition of torture? Is that not an invocation of Alberto Gonzales's memo about the President saying what is and is not legally torture?

But it all cycles back to Cheney, not to Bush the Stupider. "Cheney's camp says the United States does not torture captives, but believes the president needs nearly unfettered power to deal with terrorists to protect Americans. To preserve the president's flexibility, any measure that might impose constraints should be resisted," says the Post, or, in other words, we don't torture but we torture, but if we say we don't torture, then we must not torture, even though we don't want any laws that would prevent us from torturing, although we don't torture. See? Get it?

Ahh, the viscous goo that hulks like a human, Dick Cheney, and his staff of gorgons and demons, giggling madly as they wipe their asses with the Geneva Conventions and toss the feces-smeared documents around the room. They will try anything to ensure that they can disappear who they like when they like. For if they cannot, who knows what truths might be spoken out loud? If you let the damned out of hell, who knows what horrors they may speak of?

(Tip of the rude hat to Luke B. for the heads up on the Carroll column.)