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Thread: Dick "Pinochet" Cheney? (CNN.com Opinion)

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    Dick "Pinochet" Cheney? (CNN.com Opinion)

    [QUOTE]Editor's note: Ariel Dorfman is the Chilean-American author of "Death and the Maiden" along with a wide variety of other plays, fiction, poetry and essays. Dorfman is the Walter Hines Page Professor of Literature and Latin American Studies at Duke University. His new memoir is "Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt ).

    (CNN) -- Dick Cheney, it has been said, fears that "somebody will Pinochet him."

    This extraordinary grammatical twist of the word Pinochet cannot be found in Cheney's recently published memoirs. It was used in several television interviews by Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, the former chief of staff to Colin Powell, to suggest that George W. Bush's vice president dreads the possibility that he, like Gen. Augusto Pinochet, Chile's late dictator, will be put on trial for crimes against humanity in a foreign land.

    In effect, ever since Pinochet was arrested in London in 1998 and spent the next year and a half fighting extradition to Spain to face charges of having ordered and condoned torture during his regime, ever since the British House of Lords (equivalent to the U.S. Supreme Court) judged that it was valid to indict a head of state for human rights abuses in a country other than the one where those abuses had been committed, the specter of that decision and that fate has haunted rulers and former rulers everywhere.

    What terrifies Cheney (and perhaps should terrify his boss, Bush, as well) is that one morning he will be sipping his café au lait in Paris or strolling along the Thames in London or examining Picasso's "Guernica" in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid (would he recognize Iraq in that painting?), only to be suddenly tapped on the shoulder and escorted to a nearby police station. Politely, of course -- there would be no roughing him up, no extraordinary rendition, say, to North Korea, certainly no waterboarding in Guantánamo to get him to come clean, no one whispering in his ear, "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear."

    And, after being booked, Cheney would be brought before a magistrate to be informed that according to international law, he is indicted for authorizing torture (he has acknowledged direct involvement in approving its use on prisoners detained after 9/11), an activity that is condemned in a covenant that the United States ratified in 1994. And then he will have the chance -- which none of his purported victims did -- of defending himself with attorneys and the possibility of cross-examining his accusers.

    It's true that the former vice president can avoid all this unpleasantness by simply staying within the borders of his own land and never venturing abroad, except perhaps to Bahrain or Yemen, nations that have not ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture.

    What Cheney cannot avoid, however, is the universal shame and disgrace of being targeted and tainted by the word Pinochet, an infamy that, unfortunately, also soils the country where Cheney was born and which now gives him refuge and offers him impunity.

    By refusing to investigate, let alone prosecute, members of the Bush administration who stand accused by many human rights activists of crimes against humanity, the United States is telling the world that it does not obey the treaties it has signed or even its own domestic laws. It is declaring that some of its citizens -- the most influential of these citizens -- are beyond the reach of the law. It is joining a group of rogue nations that routinely torture and humiliate their prisoners and deny them habeas corpus.

    It is difficult to exaggerate how much this harms the United States -- a country that throws out the window thousands of years of progress in defining what it means to be human, what it means to have rights due to the mere fact of being human. A country that flouts the Magna Carta and destroys the legacy established by the fathers of American independence and violates the U.N. charter that the United States itself helped to create after World War II when the cry of "never again" rose from a wounded planet. A country that applauds the trial of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and scorns the torture chambers of Moammar Gadhafi in Libya and deplores the massacres in Syria, but will not hold accountable one of its own elite.

    There is a way, of course, to be rid of this stigma and, also, to verify whether Cheney's claims of innocence (like those of Pinochet) are valid.

    Put Cheney on trial in the United States itself. Let a jury of his peers decide whether, as he himself has stated, it would have been unethical or immoral "not to do everything we could" (in other words, torture) "in order to protect the nation against further attacks like what happened on 9/11." Examine publicly whether those "enhanced interrogations" were, in effect, necessary to keep America safe or if, on the contrary, they have endangered the country's security by debasing its moral standing and creating more jihadists bent on new acts of terrorism.

    Justice for all.

    The last three words of the Pledge of Allegiance that schoolchildren all across America recite each morning, their hands on their hearts before the flag, the words I spoke out as a child in New York and carried with me into my many exiles.

    Not justice for one. Or justice for some. Or justice for almost everybody.

    For all.

    Those oh-so-simple three words are stating that it does not matter how powerful you are, whether you were a tyrant such as Pinochet or a man such as Cheney who was a mere heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States, you can never be above the law.

    All.

    A word synonymous with humanity, all of it, every first and last one of us -- the ruler who commands millions and the victim screaming in the darkness for a reprieve from pain.

    If Cheney really loved his country, he would demand that a grand jury be convened, he would want a world where the schoolchildren of tomorrow, his own grandchildren and great-grandchildren, can truly pledge that there will be justice for all.

    He would want to clear his name and never more see it even remotely associated with Pinochet, that thief, that traitor, that man who tortured his own people and lives on only in the annals of villainy.

    The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Ariel Dorfman.[/QUOTE]

    Interesting viewpoint. Thoughts?

    What would the U.S.'s reaction be if a former VP were arrested outside the U.S., and tried in a foreign court for Crimes Against Humanity?

    Do you like that idea? What if one said that Obama could also be tried, under similar circusmatnces, for keeping Guantanamo open, ordering the execution without trial of Bin Laden, and ordering drone strkes whilst knowing it would/could kill innocent civilians?

    Try not to paint your view as "left/right" and imagine if BOTH sides could face such treatement, before you post.

    For those unfamiliar with Pinochet, please see here: [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinochet#Human_rights_violations[/url]

    But boils down to over 3,000 murders, and 30,000 people tortured (by alot more than waterboarding).

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    we dont really think about it cause it's been so well whitewashed but Cheney should be worried about this. He did violate many treaties, including the Geneva Convention, falsified evidence in the leadup to war (he processed the bad intel) and may not be as bad as Pinochet but alot of what he did was deplorable. How many thousands of Iraqi's died on the false threat of Yellowcake? How many US Soldiers dead or maimed? Dick Cheney is a terrible person, flat out.
    as a side note I remember saying Geneva Convention in this forum, and basically getting laughed at or worse. People in 2002/2003 thought it was ok to violate the Geneva Convention because of 9/11. Well that's not how it works, and It didn't make us safer.
    Last edited by bitonti; 09-23-2011 at 04:52 PM.

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    [QUOTE=bitonti;4156000]we dont really think about it cause it's been so well whitewashed but Cheney should be worried about this. He did violate many treaties, including the Geneva Convention, falsified evidence in the leadup to war (he processed the bad intel) and may not be as bad as Pinochet but alot of what he did was deplorable. How many thousands of Iraqi's died on the false threat of Yellowcake? How many US Soldiers dead or maimed? Dick Cheney is a terrible person, flat out.
    as a side note I remember saying Geneva Convention in this forum, and basically getting laughed at or worse. People in 2002/2003 thought it was ok to violate the Geneva Convention because of 9/11. Well that's not how it works, and It didn't make us safer.[/QUOTE]

    If this actually happens, Wolfawitz better be with him.

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    [QUOTE=bitonti;4156000]we dont really think about it cause it's been so well whitewashed but Cheney should be worried about this. He did violate many treaties, including the Geneva Convention, falsified evidence in the leadup to war (he processed the bad intel) and may not be as bad as Pinochet but alot of what he did was deplorable. How many thousands of Iraqi's died on the false threat of Yellowcake? How many US Soldiers dead or maimed? Dick Cheney is a terrible person, flat out.
    as a side note I remember saying Geneva Convention in this forum, and basically getting laughed at or worse. People in 2002/2003 thought it was ok to violate the Geneva Convention because of 9/11. Well that's not how it works, and It didn't make us safer.[/QUOTE]

    A few points,

    Processing bad intel =/= falsified intelligence. A court would be required to stick with what could be proven.

    Could, under the same argument, Colin Powell also be arrested and tried, as he was also in the top-end of the chain of command, and is (based on his position) even more personally responsible for War Intel and it's Processing?

    Second, most of the Iraqi dead died at the hands of their fellow Iraqi's or foreign fighters. One of the bigger spins about the Iraq War is that WE killed them all, it simply isn't the case. The vast vast majority died due to bombings carried out by insurgents, not the barrels of U.S. Soldiers guns.

    As for the Geneva Convention, the answer now (legally) is the same it was then. Non-uniformed, non-state actors do not qualify under the convention as would a uniformed state actor. You may not like that, you may even want to support a new Geneva Convention Addendum, but it won't change the situation for a Cheney Trial.

    With that said, would you support an International Trial for Obama, for not giving full legal and human rights to Guantanimo detainees and continuing the Bush era policy of rendition?

    Beyond that Bit, let me ask, is a trial of former VP Cheney (and more, add whomever you like, Bush, etc,) something you actively WANT to see come to pass? Do you think that would be good for the U.S., to have Pres. Bush, and Cheney, and more (maybe Powell) in an International Jail in Geneva?

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4156062]
    With that said, would you support an International Trial for Obama, for not giving full legal and human rights to Guantanimo detainees and continuing the Bush era policy of rendition?
    [/QUOTE]

    warfish you ask alot of questions and I need to glance at the geneva convention before I attempt to answer. But for this one... let me say NO. I applaud Obama for not adding any to Gitmo. The question of what to do with them is tricky. Like the wars themselves ending is alot more difficult than beginnning. and CHeney is not going to be Pinochet'ed by our gov't once Obama took the office he became US President not Democratic Candidate. It is not productive for the USA to put Cheney's sins up for punitive justice. We should be honest about what happened tho, and whether it was technically legal or not, it wasn't a proud era for US Democracy. At the very least those decisions forced the USA off it's moral high ground in front of the whole world.

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    [QUOTE=Warfish;4155909]Interesting viewpoint. Thoughts?

    What would the U.S.'s reaction be if a former VP were arrested outside the U.S., and tried in a foreign court for Crimes Against Humanity?

    Do you like that idea? What if one said that Obama could also be tried, under similar circusmatnces, for keeping Guantanamo open, ordering the execution without trial of Bin Laden, and ordering drone strkes whilst knowing it would/could kill innocent civilians?

    Try not to paint your view as "left/right" and imagine if BOTH sides could face such treatement, before you post.

    For those unfamiliar with Pinochet, please see here: [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinochet#Human_rights_violations[/url]

    But boils down to over 3,000 murders, and 30,000 people tortured (by alot more than waterboarding).[/QUOTE]

    It is an interesting thing to think about. I dont think it will come up though, since Aschcroft v Iqbal has basically made it impossible to prosecute the leaders of the post 9/11 response, and I doubt Cheney is healthy enough to travel outside of the US to be subjected to this sort of scenario.

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    Cheney is indefensible. The Gen Con treaties are there for a reason and his violation of them are real as are the results

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