Did Dick Cheney knowingly send intelligence officials to Congress to mislead them about the use of waterboarding? Did the Vice President himself?
We simply don't know. But we need to know, in light of the explosive report in the Washington Post today, that the Vice President took a very personal role in some Congressional briefings.
We've got a petition up demanding the truth, over at VoteVets.org.
Now, why would veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan care about this? Isn't this a political issue? Maybe, but it has far reaching implications for our troops in the field.
First - we absolutely have to send the message to the Muslim world that to the degree that we did torture, we fully investigated how those tactics came to be employed (including how it may have been hidden at the time), and held accountable those who were at fault.
To be clear, President Obama is making great progress by ending the use of torture, and moving to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo. But, it makes it harder for our troops to win hearts and minds, and still serves as a great terrorist recruiting tool, if there is word out there that the United States tortured, and let people responsible walk, without accountability.
Second - We have to send the message to our allies that when we violate international law (as General Petraeus has said), we fully investigate and hold people accountable. If we can't make good on our agreements in the Geneva Conventions, then it severely and adversely affects the trust of the world to uphold our other agreements.
Further, it hurts our ability to build coalitions in the future, when going to war is truly in our national security interests (unlike Iraq). It's always somewhat en vogue to bash the international community, but the fact of the matter is that we need the nations of the world to trust us, especially if we're to ensure that future conflicts don't fall just on the shoulders of our troops.
I see the appeal of moving ahead, and not looking back, when it comes to torture. Most people would like to just move on and forget about the past eight years. But, we can't.
The old saying from Santayana is "Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it." We can't learn from recent history unless we know everything about the recent history of torture. That's why we need to investigate the whole truth about torture, now.
Crossposted at VetVoice.com