Presidents of the United States have an unwritten code—they usually refrain from talking about their successor, whatever it is they are doing or decide to do. However, that hasn’t stopped former Vice President Dick Cheney from commenting on what’s going on in the Obama Administration. I find this all quite fascinating because we didn’t hear much from Cheney during the time he spent in office except for the times when he was wiping the floor with other Vice Presidential candidates during the debates.
But let’s step back and see what this mess is all about.
Last week, President Obama deemed certain documents that explained the reasoning of the Bush Administration’s acceptance of torture as able to be released because the data that they held had already been released—that we used techniques such as water-boarding to coerce information out of detained terrorists.
Two weird things happened around this event.
The Absence of Head Hunting Calls
The first thing was that, unlike the previous events that had happened in the week, the voices on Capitol Hill were relatively silent. There were not as many vocal calls for investigations, etc. That could mean any number of things.
- That this is old news, and they were already on the record as wanting to investigate the previous Administration for this.
- That the Congress is complicit in some of this, and that an investigation could prove more harmful to existing members than the Bush Administration people who are now out of power.
- That what Cheney says is right—if there were a full inquiry and the information that was retrieved came out, the Bush Administration would seem more sympathetic.
Ends and Means
In the Fox show 24, Kiefer Sutherland portrays the character Jack Bauer and the formula is that Bauer knows how to get the pertinent information out of any villain because he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get that information.
In Season 7, especially, Jack confronts head on the idea of ends and means when he’s called before the U. S. Senate to answer for his use of torture to get information, when he is whisked away to do just that. Bauer explains that people like him are necessary when it counts, because there’s no other way to get that information.
Vice President Cheney is coming out with much the same argument. That if we not only had the information about the means that were used to get the information, but also had the attacks that the government was able to thwart and the lives saved, that the judgment would be made in favor of the Bush Administration.
And it’s hard to know what might have been stopped. I’ve always personally wondered why we never heard anything from the Administration about threats. I always figured it was one of three things:
- We’d taken the fight to them.
- If they told us what they had done or doing they’d tip their hand and let the terrorists know their methods.
- There really was nothing to report.
It’s possible that if the American people were to hear what was done, the tide could turn on torture and its feasibility. The military and Congress had already sent people to the set of 24 to talk to the producers because Jack Bauer’s character was too cool with his ways.
Would hearing that we were saved from a terrorist plot justify the use of torture in your mind?