It's too late to impeach Cheney, but why is he still walking the streets? I don't know about where you live, but here in Massachussetts the statute of limitations for crimes such as armed robbery is 10 years. If someone robbed a liquor store five years ago and then talked about it on Oprah, would the government say, oh, that's in the past, we need to turn the page?
Well, there is no statute of limitation on war crimes, and in recent weeks Dick Cheney has repeatedly confessed his knowledge of, and approval of, the torture of terror suspects (I won't insult your intelligence by providing the links, because readers of this blog pay attention to the news.)
Even if his lawyers could claim he wasn't really in the chain of command, I am sure there are plenty of legal theories that would make him an accomplice and co-conspirator. Or at least, shouldn't someone be trying them out? It's one thing to make excuses, as President Obama and Attorney General Holder have done, for CIA personnel who supposedly operated under "terrific stress" and were only following orders as they tried to prevent another 9/11 (although international law does not recognize such excuses.) It is another thing altogether to have a former vice-president pretty much dare the Obama Justice Department to indict him for war crimes by confessing to them publicly every chance he gets.
But there are still those who think that the law is only for people like you and me and armed robbers who hold up liquor stores to feed their families or their drug addictions. Chief among them seem to be our political commentators, who, in a seemingly endless series of what I called "thumbsuckers" in the previous post, are trying to sound tough on accountability while opposing holding anyone truly accountable. In today's Los Angeles Times, for example, Doyle McManus, in an opinion piece entitled "Examining torture in the Bush era," takes just such a position. After much ruminating about whether torture was "effective" or not, McManus ends as follows:
The central question today isn't whether some CIA contractors overstepped the blurry lines of their rule book, or whether a few pliable lawyers in the Justice Department produced legal opinions to satisfy their bosses. We know they did. Now we need to ask why the government was unable to correct an erroneous course for seven years, except when the Supreme Court forced it to -- and then only minimally. We don't need criminal prosecutions; we need public accountability at the top. Starting, for example, with public testimony from Dick Cheney.
Now just what kind of "accountability" are we demanding from Cheney? Public testimony before a Congressional panel, and then letting him return to Wyoming to hunt and fish and live the good life with all the millions of dollars he has stocked away over the years? For Cheney, such an appearance would be just another chance to justify his conduct. Why not let him do it in a courtroom before a judge and jury instead?