The stenographers of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM) are missing the most obvious explanation for former Vice President Dick Cheney’s widely reported “disappointment” with former President George W. Bush on the issue of pardons -- self-interest.
What Cheney is “urgently focused” on right now is staying out of prison. As he sits writing his memoir in his own Eagle’s Nest over his garage in a fancy Virginia suburb, Cheney is pulling out all the stops to ensure that he does not have to face the music for war crimes.
For Cheney, there apparently will be no trips to Paris? No, that’s where Rumsfeld almost got arrested two years ago. After a war-crimes complaint was lodged, he had to go out the back door of the embassy and dart to the airport for the first flight back to the U.S., before the Paris magistrate decided whether or not to detain him.
I do think that Hayes, the pundits for Time and Gellman have it right when they say that Cheney is angry with George W. Bush, but they are disingenuous about the reason why. They must have figured out that when Cheney vents his anger at Bush’s failure to pardon Libby, the ex-Vice President is really livid that Bush did not issue a blanket pardon for Cheney and other co-conspirators.
Cheney had every reason to expect the pardon (excusing crimes such as torture and launching an aggressive war by deceiving Congress), given that he seems to have engaged in those crimes with his boss’ full knowledge and encouragement.
But when Cheney accuses Bush of abandoning “an innocent man” who had served the President loyally; when Cheney excoriates anyone who would “sacrifice the guy who was asked to stick his head in the meat grinder” — he appears to be talking about himself as much as Libby.
It is such an obvious allegory, a classic example of self-pity masquerading as altruism; and the pundits don’t get it — or, more likely, pretend not to.
My sense is that Cheney is feeling abandoned; that he senses the real danger of being brought to justice; and that he is waging a series of pre-emptive strikes to head that off.
Reading recently about the post-WWII Nuremberg Tribunal, I was reminded that it was the film of Nazi concentration camps that wiped the arrogant smirks off the faces of senior Nazi officials, defendants like Hermann Goering and Rudolf Hess.
Bulldozers pushing corpses into open pits, bodies stacked like cordwood — the films of such atrocities had devastating effect. According to one witness, “Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel sat there, bent over and broken, mopping his lined face with a soggy ball of handkerchief.” The smirks never came back.
Cheney and his associates have got to be prepared for something similar, even though they were not vanquished in war. They probably consider the chances slight that they would be brought to an international court, even though Chief U.S. prosecutor, Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson, pointedly warned at Nuremberg:“…the ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to the law. And … while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment.”
As for violations of U.S. law, the list is long. Interestingly, two of the three Articles of Impeachment against Richard Nixon approved by the House Judiciary Committee on July 27, 29 and 30, 1974, were based, in part, on misusing the CIA.
The bottom line for Cheney is this: Too much has gone wrong, and Cheney cannot afford to take any chances that there will not be more cracks in the wall protecting Bush-era secrets.
The good news, as far as Cheney is concerned, can be seen in the clear signs that neither Obama nor Holder have any stomach for holding Cheney to account — and still less for holding Bush accountable.
Obama and Holder sometimes appear so eager to prove themselves to the Washington Establishment that they protect Bush-Cheney secrets even when a disclosure would serve an important national security goal.
So, Cheney appears to be pursuing a new strategy of pre-emption. His most obvious tactic is to tie his actions on torture tightly to Bush. On May 10 when Bob Schieffer asked Cheney how much Bush knew about the “enhanced interrogation techniques," the former Vice President stated clearly, if redundantly:
“I certainly, yes, have every reason to believe he knew — he knew a great deal about the program. He basically authorized it. I mean, this was a presidential-level decision. And the decision went to the President. He signed off on it.”
Cheney was certainly eager to answer the question. The idea, of course, would be to juice the jitters he already perceives at senior levels of the Obama administration, and to make it clear that no one will take Cheney down alone; i.e., without Bush right beside him (my em).
Great article and you should go read the rest. Here's the money shot:
In Cheney's view, this image of a former President in the dock is sure to deter dithering lawyers and politicos at the top of the White House and Justice Department, who are more interested in sniffing the political winds than in enforcing the rule of law.
My worst fear is that Cheney may be right.
Until we get an AG and, yes, a President, who pay more than lip service to 'rule of law' and are willing to apply it to those who were at the very top of the Bush & Cheney criminal enterprise, he may just be right at that.