Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Class and evasion

I would love to take a class. Colin Powell is teaching at City College in New York. He has been quite busy since he left the administration. He is also trying to buy the Washington Senators baseball team. I would love to take a class from him. It would be great to learn and to ask questions across the board. I miss going to class, especially poli sci and history class. I have had some great history teachers in school. Doc Mueller, Aylward, Critchlow, Sanchez, etc.

I would love to take a class from Dick Cheney. He was just interviewed on Nightline the other evening. This new guy Moran was pushing him but ultimately let him get off without getting the simple questions answered. Cheney was fairly blatant in his evasive answers.

Moran: The president has said we do not torture, and Sen. McCain proposed a measure in part to vindicate those values that would ban the cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment of any person in U.S. custody anywhere in the world. Why did he [Bush] fight so hard against that?

Cheney: Well, we ultimately reached a compromise between the president and Sen. McCain, and it was arrived at just last week. But what I- Excuse me. The position I took was one that was the position the administration had taken when we signaled to the Congress that we were prepared to veto a bill that went farther than we thought it should, in terms of trying to restrict the prerogatives of the president, and-

Moran: How so, when it comes to cruel, inhuman - What's the president's prerogative in the cruel treatment of prisoners?

Cheney: There's a definition that's based on prior Supreme Court decisions and prior arguments, and it has to do with the Fourth, Thirteenth, and - three specific amendments to the Constitution. And the rule is whether or not it shocks the conscience. If it's something that shocks the conscience, the court has agreed that crosses over the line.

Now, you can get into a debate about what shocks the conscience and what is cruel and inhuman. And to some extent, I suppose, that's in the eye of the beholder. But I believe, and we think it's important to remember, that we are in a war against a group of individuals and terrorist organizations that did, in fact, slaughter 3,000 innocent Americans on 9/11, that it's important for us to be able to have effective interrogation of these people when we capture them.

And the debate is over the extent to which we are going to have legislation that restricts or limits that capability. Now, as I say, we've reached a compromise. The president signed on with the McCain amendment. We never had any problem with the McCain amendment. We had problems with trying to extend it as far as he did.

But ultimately, as I say, a compromise was arrived at, and I support the compromise.

Moran: Should American interrogators be staging mock executions (and) waterboarding prisoners? Is that cruel?

Cheney: I am not going to get into specifics here. You're getting into questions about sources and methods, and I don't talk about that, Terry.

Moran: As vice president of the U.S., you can't tell the American people whether...

Cheney: I don't talk about-

Moran: ...or not we would interrogate...

Cheney: I can say that we, in fact, are consistent with the commitments of the United States that we don't engage in torture. And we don't.

Moran: Are you troubled at all that more than 100 people in U.S. custody have died - 26 of them now being investigated as criminal homicides - people beaten to death, suffocated to death, died of hypothermia in U.S. custody?

Cheney: No. I won't accept your numbers, Terry. But I guess one of the things I'm concerned about is that as we get farther and farther away from 9/11, and there have been no further attacks against the U.S., there seems to be less and less concern about doing what's necessary in order to defend the country.


Moran: Does the United States maintain secret prisons around the world?

Cheney: I'm not going to talk about intelligence matters.

Moran: Secret prisons?

Cheney: I'm not going to talk about intelligence matters.

Moran: Does the International Red Cross have access to everyone in U.S. custody, as we are obliged?

Cheney: Terry, with all due respect, I won't discuss intelligence matters. I shouldn't.

Moran: I'd like to put this personally, if I can. You're a grandfather. I'm a father. When we look at those girls and we think that the country we're about to pass to them is a country where the vice president can't say whether or not we have secret prisons around the world, whether waterboarding and mock executions is consistent with our values, and a country where the government is surveilling without the warrant of a court, is that the country we want to pass on to them?

Cheney: I want to pass on to them a country that is free, that is not plagued by terrorist attacks, doesn't see a repeat of the terrible events of 9/11 when we lost 3,000 of our people that morning to a handful of terrorists who had no justification at all for what they do.


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