Let us say, and why not, that American civilians were taken by another country like, say, oh, hell, howzabout Russia under the pretext that they might have information about Chechnyan terrorist attacks. Let us say, and, really, why not, that those Americans were treated like the CIA treated the prisoners it held at black sites around the world, that they were waterboarded, forced to be nude in cold temperatures, slammed around walls, forced to act like dogs, put inside coffin-sized containers, sometimes folded into ones even smaller, and were sodomized with tubes shooting food into their assholes. Let us say that at least some of those Americans were guilty of no crimes other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that they knew nothing of any help to Russian intelligence.
Let's say that some former leader of Russia, say, Vladislav Surkov, went on national television in Russia to declare that what the Americans suffered, even the completely innocent ones, wasn't torture and that they would waterboard and use tubes to anally rape the Americans again. And, say, Surkov, who could surely be seen as being Vladimir Putin's Cheney in some ways, continued that the people who did the torturing were heroes and should be treated as such.
Well, this is a stupid game, isn't it? Because we know that we in the United States would be outraged, we'd be threatening, some in Congress would want us to do all kinds of crazy shit to punish Russia. We'd call them "barbaric," we'd call them "subhuman," we'd call them "monsters," and we'd demand that the people behind it be punished. And, indeed, we'd be right to do so. Scratch that. Once upon a time, we would have at least been right to do so. Now, we'd just look like fucking hypocrites, even more than usual, because we know what it looks like to have an ex-leader say such callous, inhuman things without regret.
There is no reason to go back over everything the Rude Pundit said about former Vice President Dick Cheney and his savage response to Senate's report on CIA torture last week. But in the wake of Cheney's epically narcissistic and nationally embarrassing appearance on Meet the Press yesterday, it's worth noting a thing or two.
- Nothing is torture, Cheney said, unless it is equal to putting a man in a burning building and making him call his children before he dies. That's his bottom line. If you didn't die horribly, you weren't tortured. Or, in another part, Cheney brings up how the North Vietnamese treated prisoners, saying that if our actions don't sink to that level or to ISIS's, it ain't torture. No one would have blamed Chuck Todd if he had paused for a second and then said, "Why don't you fucking die already, you sucker of demon cock?"
- Cheney wasn't even asked a question about the president before he tossed George W. Bush onto the war crimes barbecue (again). Todd asked Cheney, "Do you feel as if they [the CIA] were telling you what you wanted to hear?" Cheney responded that the White House was well-informed and, apropos of nothing, added, "The suggestion, for example, that the president didn't approve it, wrong. That's a lie, that's not true." Cheney is evil embodied, so he can hold a long goddamn grudge against the man who didn't pardon one of his friends.
- Being Dick Cheney means having no regrets at all. None. Cheney just doesn't give a fuck about anything but the greatness and rightness of the interrogation program. He doesn't give a fuck if innocent people were tortured. He doesn't give a fuck if they were ass raped with food tubes. He doesn't give a fuck about anyone who questions its efficacy. He doesn't give a fuck if you think the Iraq war was a fuck-up. He doesn't give a fuck if he contradicted what he said about Iraq twenty years ago. Cheney doesn't give a fuck.
- And the second Cheney said that he would do it all again the exact same way is the moment that Chuck Todd should have, Chris Hansen style, brought in cops or FBI agents to arrest him. Or Todd could have at least slammed Cheney against a wall, ripped off his clothes, dragged him down a hall, put him into stress positions, shoved a hummus-filled tube up his ass, and slammed him on a slanted board to pour water on his Gorgon face.
Because, see, what Cheney is saying, and what every Cheney apologist is saying, and what President Obama is saying by not prosecuting the torturers is that we will do it again. Maybe not now, but we're keeping it in our arsenal while we feign outrage. Why not? What's the penalty for officially sanctioned torture? Not a goddamn thing.