By Richard Walker
In the pantheon of warmongers and political criminals, a special place has been reserved for Dick Cheney. In his recently released memoirs, Cheney sounds proud of his crimes, but he knows if he were to step off a plane in Europe or in many other parts of the world, like Henry Kissinger, he would be placed in irons and handed over to the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
But without fear of prosecution, Cheney persists in lying about the reasons he took America into two wars and how he cherry-picked information to forge fictitious links between Iraq’s former leader Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, alleging they both plotted together the 9-11 attacks.
He even has the audacity to blame his lies about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction on others while still justifying an Iraq war that cost over a trillion dollars, thousands of American lives, and an untold number of dead Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi death toll has been estimated at anything between 100,000 and 1 million. The true figure may never be known.
It is worth reflecting on the crimes Cheney has committed because they illustrate how Washington, and now the Obama presidency, operate on the basis of twisted legal principles while encouraging the rest of the world to respect our rule of law. When he was vice president, Halliburton became the No. 1 contractor handling all United States military business. Cheney retained stock options in the company, whose stock price rocketed while he was in the White House. His net worth is estimated at more than $60 million.
The war crimes for which he should be tried include the bombing of civilian centers in Iraq, as well as the use of depleted uranium weapons and phosphorus shells. Also, Cheney masterminded the official U.S. program that involved kidnapping foreign nationals for the purpose of sending them to Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) black sites, where they would then be transferred to friendly intelligence services in countries like Egypt, Jordan and Syria to be tortured. There is also his unabashed claim he advocated the use of interrogation techniques banned by the Geneva Conventions, and had plans to mercilessly bomb other nations.
One cannot ignore the fact that Cheney championed the radical use of his office by encouraging an extensive program of spying on American citizens and denying Congress information about meetings he held with oil moguls, who formed part of what he called his “Energy Commission.”
Moreover, while he branded Americans unpatriotic when they refused to support his warmongering, Cheney was the prime mover in outing CIA agent Valerie Plame, a treasonable offense for which he has never been charged. His second in command, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, took the fall for that and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. Libby never went to prison, though. After Libby had exhausted all of his appeals and would have been forced to go to jail, his sentence was commuted by President George W. Bush.
Reggie B. Walton, the former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court who got threatening letters when he ordered Libby to prison, eventually commented publicly on Bush’s commutation, stating: “The downside is, there are a lot of people in America who think that justice is determined to a large degree by who you are, and that what you have plays a large role in what kind of justice you receive.”
Richard Walker is the pen name of a former N.Y. news producer.