Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment about Mr. Cheney's speech. Neurotic. Paranoid. False to fact and false to reason. Forever self-rationalizing. His inner rage at his own impotence and failure dripping from every word and as irrational, as separated from the real world, as dishonest, as insane, as any terrorist.
The former vice president has today humiliated himself beyond redemption.
The delusional claims he has made this day could be proved by documentation and first-hand testimony to be the literal truth, and still he himself would be wrong, because the America he sought to impose upon the world and upon its own citizens, the dark hateful place of Dick Cheney's own soul, the place he to this hour defends and to this day prefers, is a repudiation of all that our ancestors, all that for which our brave troops of 200 years ago and two minutes ago, have sacrificed and fought.
I do have to congratulate you, Sir. No man living or dead could have passed the buck more often than you did in 35 minutes this morning. It's not your fault we water-boarded people, you said. It isn't torture, you said, even though it is based on 111 years of American military prosecutions. It was in the Constitution that you could do it, even if our laws told you, you could not. It was in the language of the 2001 military authorization you force-fed the Congress that you could do it, even if our international treaties told you, you could not.
It produced invaluable information, you said, even though the first-hand witnesses, the interrogators of these beasts, said the information preceded the torture and ended when it began. It was authorized, you said, by careful legal opinion, even though the legal opinions were dictated by you and your cronies, and, oh by the way, the torture began before the legal opinions were even written. It was authorized, you said, and you imply even if it really wasn't, it was done to "only detainees of the highest intelligence value."
It was more necessary, you said, because of the revelation of another program by the real villains, the New York Times, even though that revelation was possible because the program was detailed on the front page of the website of a defense department sub-contractor. It was all the fault of your predecessors, you said, who tried to treat terror as a "law enforcement problem," before you came to office and rode to the rescue... after you totally ignored terrorism for the first 20 percent of your first term and the worst attack on this nation in its history unfolded on your watch.
"9/11 caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for awhile," you said today, "and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated." Gee, thanks for being motivated, by the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans, to go so far as to "take a serious second look." And thank you, Sir, for admitting, obviously inadvertently, that you did not take a serious first look in the seven months and 23 days between your inauguration and 9/11.
For that attack, Sir, you are culpable, morally, ethically. At best you were guilty of malfeasance and eternally-lasting stupidity. At worst, Sir, in the deaths of 9/11, you are negligent. The circular logic, and the self-righteous sophistry, falls from a copy of Mr. Cheney's speech like bugs from a book on a moldy shelf. He still believes in "dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists." He still assumes everyone we captured is guilty without charge or trial, but that to prosecute law-breaking by government officials is "to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessors."
And most sleazy of all, while calling the CIA torturers "honorable," he insists the grunts at Abu Ghraib were "a few sadistic prison guards (who) abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations, and simple decency" even though — and maybe he doesn't know we know this — even though there is documentary proof that those guards were acting on orders originating in the office of Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld.
It is, in short, madness.Madness, Sir. Mr. Cheney, your speech was almost entirely about you. There are only five or six other people even mentioned, and only two quoted at any length. And why would you have quoted, as you did, the man who said this. "I know that this program saved lives. I know we've disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us."
As you know, Sir, you are quoting former CIA Director George Tenet. That would be the George Tenet who told Congress, on February 11th, 2003, quote: "Iraq is harboring senior members of a terrorist network led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a close associate of al-Qaida." Mr. Tenet then went into elaborate detail about the Iraq/al-Qaida connection. None of it was true.
This is your source. As he was your boss's source.
"George, how confident are you?" President Bush asked Tenet about Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction, just before the Iraq war, according to Bob Woodward's book "Plan Of Attack." "Don't worry," Tenet answered. "It's a slam-dunk." That is your independent authority on how well torture worked. Next time you see him, Mr. Cheney, you might as well ask Mr. Tenet if he thinks he is Napoleon. I don't want to know who you think you are:
"...those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations," you concluded. "And to call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims."
You saved no one, Sir. If the classified documents you seek released really did detail plots other than those manufactured by drowning men in order to get it to stop, or if they truly did note plans beyond the laughable ones you and President Bush already revealed — hijackers without passports targeting a building whose name Mr. Bush couldn't remember, clowns who thought they could destroy airports by dropping matches in fuel pipelines 30 miles away, men who planned to attack a military base dressed as Pizza delivery boys forgetting that every man there was armed, and today: the four would-be Synagogue bombers, one of whom turns out to keep bottles of urine in his apartment, and to be on schizophrenia medicine.
If those documents contained anything of value... you would have leaked them already! As you leaked those revenge fantasies of the Library Tower and the JFK Bomber, and the Fort Dix Six. "When they (terrorists) see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don't stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. "Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for — our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity."
The weakness the terrorists see, Sir, is the weakness of blind rage replacing essential cold logic.The weakness the terrorists see, Sir, is the weakness of judgment suspended, in favor of self-fulfilling prophecy. The weakness the terrorists see, Sir, is the weakness of moral force supplanted by violence and revenge fantasies. The weakness the terrorists see, Sir, is the weakness of Dick Cheney. And yet, still, ceaselessly, indefatigably, you moralize and lie to us.
"I might add," someone said today, "that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about 'values.'" Very apt. The quote is from your speech. Your speech, which was at essence, about your fantasy that you and Mr. Bush were not negligent. About your pig-headed certainty first that these attacks were impossible, then that they were a good excuse for a war you had already planned in Iraq, and finally that they were to be imminently repeated and only you knew whence the next threat would next come.
You saved no one, Mr. Cheney. All you did was help kill Americans. You were negligent before 9/11. Your response to your complicity by omission on 9/11, was panic, and shame, and insanity, and lying this country into a war that did nothing but kill 4,299 more of us. We will take no further instruction from you, Sir. Let me again quote Oliver Cromwell to you, Mr. Cheney: You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately... Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!