President Obama made the decision in early 2009 to block the Justice Department from criminally investigating and prosecuting Cheney and his fellow torturers, as well as to protect them from foreign investigations and even civil liability sought by torture victims. Obama did that notwithstanding a campaign decree that even top Bush officials are subject to the rule of law and, more importantly, notwithstanding a treaty signed in 1984 by Ronald Reagan requiring that all signatory states criminally prosecute their own torturers. Obama’s immunizing Bush-era torturers converted torture from a global taboo and decades-old crime into a reasonable, debatable policy question, which is why so many GOP candidates are now openly suggesting its use.
Yesterday, the House of Representatives unveiled a marble bust of former Vice President Cheney, which ... will reside in Emancipation Hall of the U.S. Capitol.
At the unveiling ceremony, Cheney was, in the playful words of NPR, “lightly roasted” — as though he’s some sort of grumpy though beloved avuncular stand-up comic. Along with George W. Bush, one of the speakers in attendance was Vice President Joe Biden, who spoke movingly of Cheney’s kind and generous soul:
As I look around this room and up on the platform, I want to say thank you for letting me crash your family reunion. I’m afraid I’ve blown his cover. I actually like Dick Cheney. … I can say without fear of contradiction, there’s never one single time been a harsh word, not one single time in our entire relationship.Leading American news outlets got in on the fun, as they always do, using the joviality of the event to promote their news accounts and generate visits to their sites:
As NPR put it, “This was not an event for Cheney critics — on the war or torture or related topics.” Totally: why let some unpleasant war criminality ruin a perfectly uplifting ceremony?