With his ABC interview Vice President Dick Cheney put a smoking gun on the table. He admitted that he, along with other top administration officials, personally approved the CIA's waterboarding of prisoners. That he said it unapologetically is merely his low-keyed way of declaring open war.
President Bush has been working on his legacy by circulating an upbeat, 2-page talking point memo with a description of his successes in office. Bush likes to white-wash and obfuscate. Cheney prefers a more aggressive approach.
Just as an aside, if Bush's "successes" took up all of two pages, he must print awful big!
Always blunt, two-fisted, and condescending, the question is, why admit that he approved waterboarding? And why now? Maybe it was egotism, pure and simple, his own version of a legacy campaign where he takes credit for a policy that he asserts made America safe. But to his detractors it is an admission of guilt that is prosecutable, as damning as Jack Kervorkian's 60 Minutes interview that landed him in prison.
What he is responding to is the accusation in the just released Senate Armed Services Committee Report on the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody that condemns the Bush administration in no uncertain terms:
There are those who see the vice president's admission as part of a strategy to force the president to pardon him and all those named in the Senate Report: Rumsfeld, Meyers, and Rice. If Bush doesn't pardon them, they will certainly be pursued by those in the new administration who will not let-bygones-be-bygone.
Since Bush has been famously reticent to grant pardons both as governor and president, then Cheney's ABC interview with Jonathan Karl is a way of provoking Bush to act while he still can. If Cheney is pardoned then he'll have it both ways: maintaining that what was done was legal and being protected from prosecution.
I hope that deep down in his prehensile brain, Bush knows that he was so punk'd by the neocons that he made the decisions that have made him the Worst President In Our History in almost more ways than he can count with both shoes and his pants off and will simply let them twist in the wind should the incoming administration decide to do the right thing and prosecute them. He's a petulant, vindictive sort and just might.
We will have to wait until all the new people are in place and see what happens. There is something to be said for not announcing plans to go after these criminals while they are still in office. Let 'em think 'bygones are bygones' and that they're going to get away with it until they're out of power and it's too late to foil the process.
Bush himself, of course, will be untouchable at Estancia del Chimp-o in Paraguay. He doesn't owe Cheney a damn thing.
If I were the new Prez, I'd take advantage of the expanded executive powers Bush declared about locking up American citizens indefinitely without charges or due process and round up enough neocons to replace the existing detainees at Gitmo. Then I'd sign on to the International Criminal Court and transfer them slowly, one case at a time, to The Hague, Cheney last. If he lived that long. It would be a fitting end for him to die alone and powerless, incommunicado in a concrete and steel cage in jailhouse orange with nothing but a Gideon Koran for company.