Paul Begala's commentary at Cnn.com talked about Dick Cheney's recent interview with CNN--the first post administration interview granted--and has put the hypocrisy of our previous administration in a great--albeit a little harsher than I would--manner. I'm just going to repost part of the commentary here, but if you want to read the entire thing, click here.
Cheney says U.S. can torture but can't heal.
Dick Cheney has finally found the limits of government power.
According to recently released legal memos from the Bush-Cheney administration, the former vice president believes that the federal government can ignore the First Amendment and suppress free speech and freedom of the press as part of its "war on terror."
An October 23, 2001, memo from Justice Department lawyers John C. Yoo and Robert J. Delahunty said, "First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully."
Former Vice PresidentCheney also believes, according to these same memos, that the federal government can send troops to burst into the homes of American citizens without a search warrant, despite the Fourth Amendment's protection against such unreasonable searches. He believes that the federal government has the right to arrest an American citizen on American soil and hold him in prison without charges. He believes that the federal government can listen in on your phone conversations without a court order.
Cheney believes that the federal government can ignore the Geneva Conventions, binding treaties largely written by the United States, signed by the president and ratified by the Senate. He believes that the federal government can commit torture, despite laws and treaties making torture a crime.
As the Washington Post reported, "Starting in January, 2002, Cheney turned his attention to the practical business of crushing a captive's will to resist. The vice president's office played a central role in shattering limits on coercion of prisoners in U.S. custody, commissioning and defending legal opinions that the Bush administration has since portrayed as the initiatives, months later, of lower-ranking officials."
The newspaper said, "Cheney and his allies ... did not originate every idea to rewrite or reinterpret the law, but fresh accounts from participants show that they translated muscular theories, from Yoo and others, into the operational language of government."
In fact, Yoo has said the federal government has the power to grab your young son and crush his private parts if the president thinks that will help the "war on terror."
Think I'm kidding? Here's the verbatim exchange from a debate between Yoo and Notre Dame professor Doug Cassel:
Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
Yoo: No treaty ...
Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo ...
Yoo: I think it depends on why the president thinks he needs to do that.
...If the government can censor the free press, restrict free speech, listen in on your private conversations, burst into your home, take you away, hold you in prison without charges and torture you, it raises an interesting question: What on Earth does Dick Cheney think the federal government can't do?
Thanks to John King, we now know: Cheney believes that the government cannot help with health care, improve education or wean America off Middle East oil. I'm not kidding.
Cheney, whose authoritarian impulses run deep, is suddenly worried that the federal government might become too powerful under President Obama.
"I worry a lot," he told King, "that they're using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government, and much more authority for the government over the private sector. I don't think that's good. I don't think that's going to solve the problem."
...Set aside the hypocrisy of the Bush-Cheney Medicare prescription drug entitlement, the greatest expansion of the federal role in health care since President Lyndon B. Johnson...
...Cheney is comfortable with a government that has the authority to torture, imprison, censor and kill. Just not a government that has the capacity and compassion to write a health insurance policy or take on Big Oil.