THE BLOG
12/22/2014 10:17 am ET Updated Feb 21, 2015

Cheney the Hun

Former Vice President Dick Cheney vandalized the Constitution, Justice, and earmarks of decency that distinguish civilization from savagery as thoroughly as Alaric the Great vandalized Rome in 410 A.D.

He would have been ostracized by the Founding Fathers, who viewed the final end of government as justice.

During an interview on NBC's Meet the Press recently, the former Vice President sneered at contrition over the prolonged imprisonments and harsh interrogations of at least 26 erroneously kidnapped Al Qaeda suspects without due process.

He snarled that it was far better that the United States be complicit in widespread injustice than that a single Al Qaeda member remain at large. He thus fumed over the release of "folks..that end[ed] up back on the battlefield." But scoffed at the 26 false imprisonments by arguing that the ends justify the means: "I have no problem as long as we achieve our objective."

Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.), who was tortured by the North Vietnamese, declared on CBS's Face the Nation that, "You can't claim that tying someone to the floor and having them freeze to death is not torture." As regards waterboarding, the former POW emphasized that the United States "tried and hung Japanese war criminals for waterboarding Americans in World War II."

Mr. Cheney vehemently disputed Senator McCain. He refused to condemn any of the CIA's "enhanced interrogation techniques" as torture, including waterboarding, rectal feeding, or handcuffing a prisoner's wrists to an overhead bar 22 hours a day. Mr. Cheney insinuated that anything less draconian than United States government murders of 3,000 civilians as retribution for the 9/11 abominations was de riguer.

In philosophy and spirit, Mr. Cheney is at war with civilization itself.

Writing more than 2,000 years ago in The Republic and The Laws, Cicero denounced as unjust a law "to the effect that a dictator might put to death with impunity any citizen he wished, even without a trial."

Cicero further stated that if, as with Mr. Cheney, "everything is to be tested by the standard of utility, then anyone who thinks it will be profitable to him will, if he is able, disregard and violate the laws. It follows that Justice does not exist at all, if it does not exist in Nature, and if that form of it which is based on utility can be overthrown by that very utility itself. And if Nature is not to be considered the foundation of Justice, that will mean the destruction [of the virtues on which human society depends]."

Mr. Cheney would have exulted in the Dark Ages.

He would have been a champion of trial by ordeal. (In trial by cold water ordeal, the accused was thrown bound into a pool of water. If he sunk and drowned, he was innocent. If he floated, he was deemed "rejected" by the water and necessarily guilty).

He would have opposed the Magna Charta in 1215 as tying the King's hands by the law and arresting his ability to throw alleged enemies into dungeons to rot and expire.

He would have saluted King George III's punishing colonial rebels by, among other things, endeavoring "to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

Mr. Cheney scorns the three bedrock moral principles that gave birth to the United States.

First, our actions are dictated by what they say about us independently of the barbarism of others. We reject slavery, torture, and extrajudicial killings because they are incompatible with human dignity--not because they are counter-utilitarian.

Second, we sacralize due process because we know that we could be wrong and that every happening is multidimensional.

Third, we believe it is better to assume risks that might occasion injustice to us than to risk being complicit in injustice to others.

The Minutemen at Lexington and Concord fired a shot heard round the world because of these three enlightened principles.

The former Vice President has never received the message.

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