Andrew Sullivan tries to explain the necessity of impeachment, or, since that's now too late (because the Democrats took it "off the table" and held it there for so long), the criminal prosecution of Dick Cheney:
What Cheney has advanced is that the president has the right to dissolve the constitution permanently. That he has the right to commit war crimes with impunity. That there is no legal authority to which he is ever required to pay deference in a war that is his and his alone to declare and end. Now when you consider that, in Cheney's view, these war-powers are limitless, and that war is declared not by the Congress but by the president, and can be defined against a broad, amorphous enemy such as "terrorism", and never end, you begin to see what a dangerous man he is, and how much danger we have all been in since he seized control of the government seven years ago.Courtesy cafiorello; The New York Times editorial staff finally, finally, at this late hour, admits the obvious reality: torture is, in fact, torture - though they still use weasel words regarding their legality, which is equally unambiguous, and always has been. Still, let's see if they'll call torture that in new stories and not just editorials. I have my doubts. The best thing they say, I think, is this:
...the vice-president long ago became an enemy to the Constitution and to all it represents. He should have been impeached long ago; and the shamelessness of his exit makes prosecution all the more vital. If we let this would-be dictator do what he has done to the constitution and get away with it, the damage to the American idea is deep and permanent.
A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.But there's still a politiical-class consensus that none of these war crimes and other criminal acts should be prosecuted, and that:
...what's most crucial here is ensuring that these mistakes are not repeated. In the end, that may be more important than punishing those who acted wrongly in pursuit of what they thought was right.I like the use of the word "mistakes" to describe "torture," "murder," and "massive and blatant violation of international treaty and domestic law." Apparently that's all just "policy matters" (or that's been the line of the defenders of torture and supporters of ignoring the crimes) and shouldn't be prosecuted. Just a little tsk-tsk and "we won't do that again" and that's all just fine; limits of law and prosecution for violations of that law are for the little people, after all. Glenn Greenwald, as usual, does a nice job of disassembling the inanity of this argument, but really, it boils down to the fact that laws with no penalty are optional, and laws that are optional aren't laws. And, of course:
By telling political leaders that they will not be punished when they break the law, the exact opposite outcome is achieved: ensuring that this conduct will be repeated... All of these laws and safeguards were blithely disregarded and violated. Other than making sure that leaders know they will be punished -- like all Americans are -- when they break the law, how and why does anyone imagine that we can ensure this "never happens again," especially as we simultaneously affirm -- yet again -- that political leaders will be exempted from the rule of law if they do it? What's the answer to that?eta: Apparently the euphemism "physical pressure" has been becoming more popular again to mask torture. The pro-torture apologists keep picking badly, because just as "enhansed interrogation" was the exact term the Nazi regime used to pretend torture wasn't torture, "physical pressure" was the preferred term of Stalin and his secret police.
eta2: The Asia Times thinks the Pentagon and Bush administration are trying to sabotage the US-Iraq Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and Mr. Obama's withdrawal plans through mass reclassification of combat troops as support:
The [New York] Times story also revealed that Pentagon planners were projecting that as many as 70,000 US troops would be maintained in Iraq "for a substantial time even beyond 2011", despite the agreement's explicit requirement that all US troops would have to be withdrawn by then.So, keep an eye on that.