by: Will Bruzzo
As Dick Cheney toured the talking circuit a few weeks ago promoting the use of water boarding among other torture techniques and advocating for the continued operation of the Prison at Guantanamo Bay, I could not help but reflect on Mr. Cheney’s other significant contributions to America. Of course, what first comes to mind is his using the events of September 11, 2001 as the basis for going to war against Iraq. The September 11th Commission, a bi-partisan group of individuals who investigated the events leading up to and after the tragedy of that day, found no link between Saddam Hussein and the attack on the World Trade Center. President Bush and the CIA also agreed there was no evidence of a link between 9/11 and Hussein’s regime. Despite that, within days of these pronouncements, Dick Cheney was on the air at Fox News claiming there was a link between 9/11 and Mr. Hussein. In fact, he appeared on Fox News several times in one day claiming the existence of this link presumably to cover all the time zones. I bring this up because it was only a few weeks ago that Mr. Cheney finally acknowledged, after about 6 years, that in fact there was no link between the events of September 11 and Mr. Hussein. Many of you may feel that it takes a real piece of work to misuse the worst tragedy in American history to build support for an unnecessary war and yet Mr. Cheney’s work is far from over.
His latest rasion d’etre stems from his accusations that the Obama administration is making Americans less safe by closing Guantanamo and suspending enhanced interrogation techniques. This is despite the fact that at least one Republican Senator agreed it is ridiculous to think we cannot safely hold 250 prisoners in the United States. Even General Patreus, the Supreme Commander of Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, describes the existence of the prison at Guantanamo as a recruitment tool for Al-Qaeda that should be shut down. Furthermore, at least one highly experienced FBI terrorist interrogator testified in congressional hearings that the interrogation techniques Mr. Cheney supports are not helpful and may actually hinder the intelligence gathering process as well as degrade us as a nation.
Despite all this counterweight to Mr. Cheney’s arguments, Democrat and Republican Senators voted overwhelmingly against funding the closure of the Guantanamo prison. The stated reason was that a place to put the prisoners had not been established yet. The real reason is that Mr. Cheney had once again succeeded in raising the “fear factor”, causing many Americans to express alarm that terrorists might be installed in their communities. These concerns were soon communicated to representatives in the U.S. Congress, who instead of educating their constituents, caved into the latest Cheney fear mongering. It was as if people feared the terrorists would be asking their daughters to the prom and rubbing elbows with them at Denny’s. It was not so long ago that some of the same members of that austere body caved into Cheney fear mongering and authorized the President to go to war. After 250,000 Iraqi deaths, thousands of Americans dead, maimed and injured and hundreds of thousands of Americans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, to say nothing of 1 trillion dollars spent, it appears they have learned little. What is truly remarkable about Mr. Cheney is that despite a career that has been characterized by being wrong about just about everything, he still talks as if he is the ultimate authority and that to disregard him is to do so at one’s peril. What is even more remarkable is that despite his track record both Americans and their politicians continue to listen.
The opinions expressed above are not those of KUCI management, UCI, or the UC Board of Regents. Will Bruzzo is the host of “The Aggressive Moderate” on KUCI.