Cheney: "I Was A Big Supporter Of Waterboarding"

By The Daily Dish

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That seems to me to be the big news out of Jonathan Karl's interview with the former vice-president today. There is not a court in the United States or in the world that does not consider waterboarding torture. The Red Cross certainly does, and it's the governing body in international law. It is certainly torture according to the UN Convention on Torture and the Geneva Conventions. The British government, America's closest Western ally, certainly believes it is torture. No legal authority of any type in the US or the world has ever doubted that waterboarding is torture. To have subjected an individual to waterboarding once is torture under US and international law. To subject someone to it 183 times is so categorically torture is it almost absurd to even write this sentence.

To give the Wikipedia definition:

Waterboarding is a torture technique that consists of immobilizing the victim on his or her back with the head inclined downwards; water is then poured over the face into breathing passages, causing the captive to believe he or she is dying.[1][2] In contrast to submerging the head face-forward in water, waterboarding precipitates an almost immediate gag reflex.[3] It can cause extreme pain, dry drowning, damage to lungs, brain damage from oxygen deprivation, other physical injuries including broken bones due to struggling against restraints, lasting psychological damage or, if uninterrupted, death.[4] Adverse physical consequences can manifest themselves months after the event, while psychological effects can last for years.[5] 

So the former vice-president has just confessed to a war crime. I repeat: the former vice-president has just confessed to a war crime.

There is no statute of limitations for such a crime; and the penalty under law is either the death penalty or a prison sentence for life:

Nations who are party to these treaties must enact and enforce legislation penalizing any of these crimes.[9] Nations are also obligated to search for persons alleged to commit these crimes, or ordered them to be committed, and to bring them to trial regardless of their nationality and regardless of the place where the crimes took place. The principle of universal jurisdiction also applies to the enforcement of grave breaches. Toward this end, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia were established by the United Nations to prosecute alleged violations.

The question is therefore not if, but when, he is convicted as a war criminal - in his lifetime or posthumously.

In fact, the attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution.

These are not my opinions and they are not hyperbole. They are legal facts. Either this country is governed by the rule of law or it isn't. Cheney's clear admission of his central role in authorizing waterboarding and the clear evidence that such waterboarding did indeed take place means that prosecution must proceed.

Cheney himself just set in motion a chain of events that the civilized world must see to its conclusion or cease to be the civilized world. For such a high official to escape the clear letter of these treaties and conventions, and to openly brag of it, renders such treaties and conventions meaningless.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/daily-dish/archive/2010/02/cheney-i-was-a-big-supporter-of-waterboarding/190386/