Friday, February 6, 2009

Cheney: Read Them Their Rights At Our Peril

Dick Cheney (left) apparently isn't following the protocol whereby former administration officials refrain from criticizing the new president–even when he's been in office for less than a month. In an interview with Politico, Cheney wondered about the Obama administration's commitment to protecting the country:

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry.”

In the Cheney worldview, it's impossible to balance national security with upholding such quaint documents as the Constitution and the Geneva Conventions. The reading of rights not only contradicts safeguarding the country; indeed, it is proof that one is not doing so.

Cheney referred to the inmates still at Guantanamo as the "hard core" ones. Yet he's used that characterization before, even when events called it into question. From The New York Times of January 18, 2009:

"...a pattern...has emerged in the closing chapter of the administration. In the last three months, at least 24 detainees have been declared improperly held by courts or a tribunal — or nearly 10 percent of the population at the detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where about 245 men remain.

"The Bush administration has maintained that the detention camp holds “the worst of the worst.” In a radio interview Tuesday, Vice President Dick Cheney said that “now what’s left, that is the hardcore.”

But for Guantánamo’s critics, the timing of the decisions on the two dozen detainees adds new urgency to a review of all Guantánamo cases... “The house of cards is finally falling down,” said Vincent Warren, the executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, which has coordinated detainees’ lawyers.

Significantly, these releases "...came after the Bush administration said it had reduced the population to the most dangerous terrorists." (My italics.)

In the Politico interview, Cheney also stated that the Obama administration is "...unwisely following 'campaign rhetoric' and preparing to release terrorism suspects or afford them legal protections granted to more conventional defendants in crime cases." Yet the Times article indicated the seriousness with which the Obama administration regards the Guantanamo cases:

"President-elect Barack Obama, who plans to close Guantánamo, has said that some of the detainees are too dangerous to release. Mr. Obama’s administration is expected to begin an effort to sort these detainees from those who pose less of a threat or are being held on weak evidence."

Regarding the nation's dire economic straits, Cheney stated, “It’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The combination of the financial crisis that started last year, coupled now with, obviously, a major recession, I think we’re a long way from having solved these problems.”

Naturally, the former vice president had nothing to say about the deregulation of the financial industry, tax cuts for the wealthy, the simultaneous pursuit of two wars, and the dependence on foreign oil–Bush administration policies that were decisive in leading to the current impasse.

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