WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?
CHENEY: I am.
In the wake of recent revelations about the CIA murdering, choking and threatening its detainees with power drills, Dick Cheney popped up on Fox yesterday to explain why such actions were essential to the security interests of the United States. To both him and his defenders I want to say the following: okay, have your way. Sign out of the Geneva Conventions. Strike out Reagan's signature on the 1984 Convention against torture. Legalise it. Don't beat around the bush with mealy-mouthed legal memos. Say it loud and proud. "The United States tortures its prisoner." Drown, choke and beat every prisoner to within an inch of his life. Then watch what happens next. See Great Britain pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan. See alliances with every civilized nation in the developed world crumble and fall, starting with Germany and France and Australia and finally including even China and Russia. See every country in the Western hemisphere change its extradition laws. See The US lectured on human rights by Yugoslavia and Columbia. See international trade dwindle and sanctions put in place. See Mi5 and Scotland Yard and Interpol refuse to cough up intelligence. See the United State unable to draw on a single military partner in the so-called 'war on terror'. Then we can talk about how important it is to you to go waving power drills in people's faces. But only then. Go on. Do it.
Nor is this a fanciful projection: it was beginning to happen. I like Obama's word for the Cheney experiment: unsustainable. Like the career of a kamikaze pilot, or, for that matter, suicide bomber. That's what Cheney was offering the American people — a dark, glamorous form of national suicide, as bewitching as only suicide can be.