No matter how cynical and hardened some of us have become in the last six years, there are still times when the next statement from the Vice President just takes your breath away. On Wednesday, the Vice President of the United States spoke to American sailors stationed in the Far East about the need for "honor" in the US policy in Iraq.
"We want to complete the mission, we want to get it done right, and we want to return with honor," said Cheney, who heads on Thursday for Australia to meet Prime Minister John Howard, another staunch supporter of Bush's Iraq policy.
Cheney's comment immediately evoked memories of Nixon's promise to achieve "peace with honor" in Viet Nam. But what struck me was the absurdity that Dick Cheney, the man whose words and actions have brought more dishonor on the United States than almost anyone in our lifetimes, would presume to lecture us on the concept of honor.
Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and their attorneys are responsible for the shameful notion that America's "honor" is loose enough to include this:
. . .as well as this continuing embarassment . . .
To retain our sanity and any sense of moral balance, we need to keep repeating that Dick Cheney is the guy who persistently encouraged and defended the use of torture and the use of information obtained during torture in military tribunals. He's the man with whom John McCain had to negotiate to get any restrictions on the use of torture and evidence derived from torture, and who rolled John McCain and Lindsey Graham, and thus the compliant Republican Congress, into passing a pathetically watered down restriction of torture in the Military Commissions Act. That's the bill that Cheney's and Bush's favorite non-Democrat, Joe Lieberman, voted for.
Dick Cheney is the man who thinks it’s okay for the US government to kidnap citizens of other countries, secretly render them to another country where they can be tortured, while transporting them through the countries of our allies, both embarrassing our allies and compromising their own laws; he's thus created the conditions in which two of those countries, Germany and Italy, have indicted nearly two dozen US agents for their roles in this despicable activity.
Dick Cheney is the man who, along with his and DoD's attorneys and the Attorney General, believes it is just fine to set up phony military tribunals to punish anyone, including lawful US residents and US citizens, held indefinitely by the US military at Guantanamo, if there was any suspicion, justified or not, of their being "enemy combatants." Cheney's the guy who, along with these same attorneys, believes that the US courts should not be allowed to determine whether these people have been lawfully seized, or are being lawfully imprisoned, denying a right of habeas corpus that has been the ethical and procedural foundation of US/British law for centuries. Cheney's the guy who thinks the President as Unilateral Executive is not bound by the 4th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States when it conducts surveillance of US citizens.
Dick Cheney is the guy who insisted that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and who insisted that the CIA was unequivocally confirming that Iraq had attempted to purchase uranium yellowcake from Niger to further its nuclear weapons program, and who, when the basis of this claim was exposed as a total fabrication, and when it was pointed out that the CIA, State and Defense had serious doubts about this story from the beginning, managed to conceal these doubts from the public but later blamed the CIA for his ignoring and hyping suspect intelligence information. And he's the guy who encouraged Doug Feith into doing a terrific job in his rogue intelligence group, stovepiping the phony information into the President.
Dick Cheney is the guy who, when Joe Wilson at first privately, and then publically challenged the Administration's claims about Iraq seeking uranium yellowcake, directed his Chief of Staff to continue to mislead the press about the WMD story, by leaking and misrepresenting selective portions of the classified National Intelligence Estimate to New York Times reporter Judy Miller, even while other members of the Administration were still attempting to get the NIE formally declassified, but without telling them he had already ordered the leak.
Dick Cheney is the guy who then conspired with and directed Libby to discredit Joe Wilson, including a scheme to recklessly and deliberately leak a CIA agent's employment and position to the media, without considering her classified status or the potential harm and risks this disclosure might have for Valerie Wilson, her CIA unit, their operations, her cover or the safety and lives of those she worked with in the intelligence community.
Dick Cheney is the guy who worked incessantly to convince the American people of a link between those who attacked us on 9/11 and Saddam Hussein's regime. He's the one who assured us, repeatedly, that a top al-Qaeda representative met Saddam's intelligence officials in Prague prior to 9/11. And then when this phony intelligence was exposed as bogus, and with equal assurance, he denied he ever said that.
Dick Cheney is the guy who assured the American people that the Iraq invasion would be easy, that we would be greeted as liberators, that the insurgency was in it's last throes, that we were making enormous progress in Iraq. This week Cheney pushed the fantasy that the British troop reduction in Basra was a sign of success in Iraq, and on and on. Along with George Bush, Dick Cheney is responsible for having recklessless put thousands of people in harms way, but Dick Cheney's response when asked to serve himself was, "I had other priorities."
And Dick Cheney is the guy who, when the President claims that criticism of his policies is not a sign of disloyalty or lack of patriotism, repeatedly links anyone who opposes the Bush/Cheney policy with support for al-Qaeda, both before the elections, and after. And he's still doing it. [Update: Digby has more over over the last two days.]
An honorable nation does not engage in these actions. Honorable people do not do them or endorse them. To Dick Cheney, I say, these are not the actions of an honorable man. If an honorable man suddenly woke up and discovered he had contributed to all of this, he would know exactly what to do:
He would first humbly apologize to the nation and beg for forgiveness.
And then he would resign.