Cheney is a true threat to freedom

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 June, 2013, 2:12am

Former US vice-president Dick Cheney has called Edward Snowden a traitor and a Chinese spy on Fox News channel. I don't know if he is right or not. But you could argue that both men have exposed the darkest side of the American government and the dangers it poses to its own citizens and the rest of the world.

If Snowden is a traitor, an excellent case can be made that Cheney is a war criminal who should be tried in The Hague.

With the exception of George W. Bush, no other official was more responsible in the last US administration for sanctioning, through the use of dubious and undisclosed legal opinions, kidnapping, coerced confessions, extrajudicial detention, torture and other systematic violations of civil liberties and human rights. All these were done in the name of US national security and the war on terror, in violation of long-standing laws, traditions and principles that have defined the US since its founding.

If you think Guantanamo is a black dot on America's human rights record, Cheney was the man who thought it was too open and accountable. He preferred the numerous black sites kept under the radar in countries friendly to the US that were used to keep high-value terror suspects, a legal black hole in which they had no rights or protection.

For five years after September 11, 2001, Bush and Cheney concocted a doctrine for unchecked presidential powers during wartime - bear in mind that the war on terror was open-ended - that would circumvent domestic laws and international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions for the protection of prisoners of war. Only a Supreme Court ruling in 2006 restored some checks and balances. US investigative reporter Jane Mayer writes in her book The Dark Side that in response to the court ruling, Cheney successfully lobbied Congress to introduce a new law that provided for retroactive immunity as he was well-aware that he and other administration officials could face charges of war crimes.

For a man like Cheney, pervasive surveillance of US citizens and foreigners - exposed by Snowden - was a given. Here is a man who was truly a threat to the cause of freedom everywhere and one who refuses to shut up even in retirement.