The Rot in America’s Soul

It’s difficult to overstate the evil of the acts documented in the torture report. To see the evil of the men who oversaw those acts, read through Dick Cheney’s Meet the Press interview from Sunday. Conor Friedersdorf has a good overview. Cheney sees nothing wrong with committing horrific acts against human beings, so long as doing so somehow, possibly leads to fulfilling his objective. Writes Friedersdorf,

That exchange leaves no room for mistaking former vice-president Cheney’s position: better to chain a man to the wall of a cell, douse him in cold water, and leave him there to freeze to death, even if he later turns out to be innocent, than to release that same man and risk not that he detonates a nuclear bomb in Manhattan, but that he ends up “on the battlefield,” where there’s a chance he could harm Americans. What if fully one-in-four prisoners tortured by the CIA were innocent?

Dick Cheney belongs in a cell. That much is obvious, and no reasonable, moral person can disagree. The trouble is, it’ll never happen. Cheney will live out the rest of his life free, getting paid for speeches, talking at conservative think tanks, and appearing on TV. He’s a war criminal who will be defended by partisans and will escape justice because of politics. America prides itself on its values and lectures the rest of the world about theirs. And there’s much to admire about American values. But how we treat evil reflects on our values, too. Especially when that evil used to have an office in the White House.

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