The New York Times is no friend of political conservatives. Thus, it shouldn’t surprise the reading public that the newspaper editorial board would jump down the throats of those who were responsible for employing torture techniques on prisoners taken right after the 9/11 attacks.
The Times did so in an editorial published this past Sunday.
It wants the government to investigate and prosecute those responsible for what it contends are illegal acts committed against suspected terrorists.
Of all the officials named, the one that stands out is former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, who’s been out front and vocal in his criticism of a Senate Intelligence Committee report contending that the Bush administration acted illegally when it subjected detainees to what’s euphemistically called “enhanced interrogation techniques.” (Let’s call ’em EITs to save space, shall we?)
Here’s the key question: Suppose prosecutors are able to convict Dick Cheney of wrongdoing? What then? Throw him in federal prison?
I’m not opposed to clearing the air on what the vice president ordered, what he knew and when he knew it. Nor am I opposed to putting it all on the record, into the public domain to let the public hash out what’s legitimate and what’s not.
As the Times noted, Republicans — except for one high-profile official — have been quiet about all of this: “One would expect Republicans who have gone hoarse braying about Mr. Obama’s executive overreach to be the first to demand accountability, but with one notable exception, Senator John McCain, they have either fallen silent or actively defended the indefensible. They cannot even point to any results: Contrary to repeated claims by the C.I.A., the report concluded that “at no time” did any of these techniques yield intelligence that averted a terror attack. And at least 26 detainees were later determined to have been “wrongfully held.”
Here is where a presidential pardon could be used.
I don’t want to see Cheney locked up. He does, though, need to be taken down a peg or two by a tough-minded independent prosecutor who could convince a jury that what the Bush administration did to those detainees violated federal law. Cheney has said he’d use the EITs again “in a minute.” The Senate report, issued by Democrats, reflects a different view.
Who’s right? Who’s wrong?
Let’s get to the bottom of it.