Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Mark Danner: We Still Live In The Dark Cheney Era

Mark Danner writes in The New York Review of Books that President Obama's repeated admonition, “America must move off a permanent war footing,” sounds "less like the orders of a commander in chief than the pleas of one lonely man hoping to persuade." As Danner surveys "the iron realities of the post–September 11 world," he concludes that we still live in the dark era of Dick Cheney:

The defense budget has more than doubled, including a Special Operations Command able to launch secret, lethal raids anywhere in the world that has grown from 30,000 elite troops to more than 67,000. The drone force has expanded from fewer than 200 unmanned aerial vehicles to more than 11,000, including perhaps 400 “armed-capable” drones that can and do target and kill from the sky—and that, following the computer directives of “pilots” manning terminals in Virginia and Nevada and elsewhere in the United States, have killed in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia an estimated 3,600 people.

The “black sites”—the network of secret prisons the CIA set up around the world, from Thailand and Afghanistan to Romania and Poland and Morocco—were ordered shut down by President Obama, but despite his executive order on his second day in office, Guantánamo Bay, the “public black site,” remains open, its 155 detainees, but for a handful, uncharged and untried. Among that number live “high-value detainees” who were once secretly imprisoned at the black sites, where many were subjected to “enhanced interrogation techniques”...

...Just as he was likely the most important and influential American official in making the decision to withhold the protection of the Geneva Conventions from detainees, Cheney was likely the most important and influential American when it came to imposing an official government policy of torture. It is quite clear he simply cannot, or will not, acknowledge that such a policy raises any serious moral or legal questions at all.

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