Dick Cheney should be in prison, not on ‘Meet the Press’ - Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald (Still from YouTube video/IamNews)
Journalist Glenn Greenwald said Dick Cheney is able to brag about the success of torture on weekend news shows because the Obama administration has decided to shield torturers rather than prosecute them.

In a wide ranging interview about the CIA torture report, prospects for the 2016 presidential race, US-Cuba relations and the Sony hack, Greenwald told HuffPost Live that the discussion about the torture report is distorted since we are not hearing from the victims of torture themselves.

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In an interview on‘Meet the Press,’ former Vice President Dick Cheney claimed that torture "worked"and announced he would "do it again in a minute" if given the opportunity.

Former US Vice President Dick Cheney (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

In response, Greenwald said that whether torture worked or not is completely irrelevant, and no one should be interested in that because everyone who tortures claims they do it for a good reason even though it has been banned under international treaties and laws. Greenwald said it was former Republican President Ronald Reagan who championed the idea that torture was never justifiable.

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Reagan signed the international Convention against Torture in 1988, which became the primary international foundation of anti-torture law. Reagan said at the time the treaty would clearly express the United States’ opposition to torture, “an abhorrent practice unfortunately prevalent in the world today.”

Greenwald said, “The reason why Dick Cheney is able to go on ‘Meet the Press’ instead of where he should be – which is in a dock in the Hague or in a federal prison – is because President Obama and his administration made the decision not to prosecute any of the people who implemented this torture regime despite the fact that it was illegal and criminal.

He added, “When you send the signal, like the Obama administration did, that torture is not a crime to be punished – it is just a policy dispute to argue about on Sunday shows – of course it emboldens torturers, like Dick Cheney, to go around on Sunday shows and say, ‘What I did was absolutely right.’”

The journalist said that when Obama was running for president in 2007/08, he was asked if there should be legal accountability for people who committed war crimes. He said it was something for the Attorney General to decide and affirm this principle, but even before Obama was inaugurated he began walking back the idea.

Pointing to a 2009 New York Times article, Greenwald said one reason why was that presidents know if they protect their predecessor and shield them from legal accountability for their crimes, they, too, will be shielded by successive administrations.

Which is another way of saying the most powerful officials in the United States have exempted themselves from the rule of law,” he added. “They are able to commit not just ordinary crimes but the most egregious crimes with the assurance that unlike ordinary citizens they will not be held accountable under the law. That is about as tyrannical and dangers as a framework we could have.”

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Regarding Guantanamo, Greenwald noted more than 1,000 people have passed through the Cuban prison complex, though that number has dwindled to 136. There are dozens of people, if not hundreds, that the United States government admits were completely innocent, he said.

So we have innocent people being tortured; we are talking about the torture program; we are hearing from the torturers continuously but almost never from the victims themselves. It creates this very distorted debate.