Admitted War Crimes
Andrew Sullivan makes the case that Dick Cheney confessed to a war crime yesterday when he said on ABC, "I was a big supporter of waterboarding." It sounded like a confession to me too. (And the twisted mutterings of a violent sadist as well --- and not in the "red is my safe word" sort of way.)
The question is therefore not if, but when, he is convicted as a war criminal - in his lifetime or posthumously.
In fact, the attorney general of the United States is legally obliged to prosecute someone who has openly admitted such a war crime or be in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the UN Convention on Torture. For Eric Holder to ignore this duty subjects him too to prosecution. If the US government fails to enforce the provision against torture, the UN or a foreign court can initiate an investigation and prosecution.
These are not my opinions and they are not hyperbole. They are legal facts. Either this country is governed by the rule of law or it isn't. Cheney's clear admission of his central role in authorizing waterboarding and the clear evidence that such waterboarding did indeed take place means that prosecution must proceed.
One would think so. However, after reading this thoroughly depressing profile of Eric Holder this morning in the NY Times, I think we can assume that Dick Cheney could go on television and admit to personally torturing KSM on the rack and nothing would be done. Eric Holder is no longer a non-political actor by his own admission. Or, rather, as a member of the Obama administration, he's now operating as a functionary of the Republicans and the national security state.
In case you were wondering, Lindsay Graham is now the de facto Attorney General and he will be deciding all the legal questions surrounding terrorism. It's an unusual arrangement, but the constitution does say that regardless of the outcome of elections, Republicans must be in charge of national security and criminal justice at all times.
Sullivan is correct that Cheney is now an admitted war criminal. But it will not be a problem for him in the United States. He might want to let that passport lapse though. He may not get such favored treatment in another country.