The New Yorker's Amy Davidson watched Dick Cheney on Meet the Press yesterday. As she notes, it's futile to argue with him about torture on the basis of morality:
Basically, in Cheney’s world, nothing Americans do can be called torture, because we are not Al Qaeda and we are not the Japanese in the Second World War (whom we prosecuted for waterboarding) and we are not ISIS. "The way we did it," as he said of waterboarding, was not torture. In other words, it was not really the Justice Department that "blessed," or rather transubstantiated, torture; it was our American-ness.Cheney is clearly not alone in this. Bill Kristol was so delighted by one exchange on Meet the Press that he declared Cheney's words the "2014 Answer of the Year":
I hereby nominate Dick Cheney's answer to Chuck Todd's question about a United Nations official who's called for the criminal prosecution of U.S. interrogators, as the 2014 Sunday Show Answer of the Year:Power Line's Steven Hayward agrees with Kristol and wishes Cheney would run for president:
CHENEY: I have little respect for the United Nations, or for this individual, who doesn't have a clue and had absolutely no responsibility for safeguarding this nation and going after the bastards that killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11.
Short and sweet.
So what if Cheney has a bad heart. He's obviously better than the clown show we have in the White House right now. Cheney 2016!Cheney's not going to do anything like that, but I suspect he could clear the primary field if he ran. Nobody makes liberals angrier, and nothing pleases Republican voters more than the ability to make liberals angry. And, as a recent YouGov poll notes, no one likes torture as much as Republicans:
Back at The New Yorker, Davidson portrays Cheney and CIA director John Brennan as a matched set of torture denialists, and speculates that torture is just on hold in America:
On "Meet the Press" on Sunday, Dick Cheney, the former Vice-President, made it clear that he, for one, given the chance, would seize waterboarding paraphernalia, and get to it. "I'd do it again in a minute," he told the host Chuck Todd. John Brennan, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, made it just as clear, in a news conference on Thursday, that the C.I.A. would not stand in the way of future White Houses: "I defer to the policymakers in future times when there is going to be the need to make sure this country stays safe if we face a similar type of crisis." Neither man would call what the C.I.A. did torture. Each, in his own way, suggested that American torturers have not faced a reckoning so much as a lull in their business.An article in The New York Times today portrays Brennan differently -- as someone who, like Obama, sincerely opposes torture, but who feels he needs to walk on eggshells when dealing with the CIA:
... if this past week has proved anything, it's that the legacy of torture is not quiet repentance but impunity. This President has told his agents not to torture, and Brennan says he can work with that, while the C.I.A. waits for instructions from the next one.
"The quandary that Brennan faces is similar to the quandary that Obama faces," said David Cole, a national security scholar and law professor at Georgetown University. "Both are personally opposed to what went on and deeply troubled by what went on and agree that it should never happen again. And both are ultimately dependent on the C.I.A. for important national security services."The career agents are defiant, and are ready to do this again if asked. A lot of Republicans would be delighted to give them the opportunity. I don't know if the gloves are going to come off again on the first day of the next GOP presidency, but if we have a Sydney siege with a Republican in the White House and any of the perpetrators are captured alive, it seems likely to me that the waterboarding equipment is coming out of mothballs.
... Current and former colleagues said Mr. Brennan had an institutional responsibility to guard his building. "If John were retired and had a few drinks in him, he might have a different tone to him," said William M. Daley, Mr. Obama's former chief of staff.