Of all the torture apologists now appearing in public, the #1 character has, of course, been Dick Cheney. He really did go on “Meet the Press” and told Chuck Todd that the only “torture” that he recognizes is the kind that resulted from 9/11, where a father “had to make a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death.” While that’s a clever rhetorical feint, it doesn’t answer the question. Does Cheney agree with the Geneva convention? Does he agree that the Nazi’s engaged in torture? Does he think that the Japanese engaged in torture of their war detainees? Does he think that what the Iranians tortured under the Ayatollah or what Pinochet did in Chile amounted to torture? Cheney sidesteps all of these questions with his glib rhetorical sleight of hand. He apparently thinks that 9/11 justified any kind of response, without restriction or limitation.
Nor does it matter to Cheney that there were some people who were innocent were tortured, including at least one man who was held in a case of mistaken identity and subsequently died in CIA custody. His only concern is for the prisoners released who rejoined the battlefield. As Jon Stewart notes, Cheney is “impervious to doubt.” Even though he has been wrong over and over again, such as when he predicted that we would be “welcomed in Iraq as liberators,” Cheney never doubts himself at all. He would direct the torture of prisoners again “in a minute.” Stewart ends this segment of the Daily Show with the best line ever: “George W. Bush, thank you for not dying while you were in office.”