The former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, Ret. Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson was on The Rachel Maddow Show where he described former vice president Dick Cheney as a man who frightens easily. Wilkerson also said that Cheney is trying to set up a legal defense for himself against torture charges.
Here is the video. (The interview begins at the 5:30 mark):
As Wilkerson said, “He is a man who lives on fear, and he is a fearful man. I think this as you hinted is his effort because he is fearful right now of what might happen to him and some of his subordinates. He is trying to lay out some sort of defense, but the defense doesn’t hold water from my point of view.” It is possible that Cheney requested that two memos be declassified strictly to make a political point, but it is just as likely that Cheney is trying to head off any potential charges that could be brought against him for his role in setting up or approving the Bush torture policy.
In my opinion, President Obama has more important things to do than investigate the Bush administration, but he may not be able to escape this issue anytime soon, if Congress decides to conduct their own investigations and hold their own hearings. Obama has already shot down the ideas of a appointing a special prosecutor or a commission. However this may not stop the Democrats in Congress from defying Obama.
There are two schools of thought behind why an investigation is merited. There are people out there who want a truth commission appointed, so that the nation can hear all the facts and hopefully avoid getting into a situation like this again, but there are also the diehards who believe that members of the Bush administration should face criminal charges. I am in favor of getting all the facts, but not criminal charges.
I believe that retroactively prosecuting members of a previous administration sets a dangerous precedent. As I used to constantly remind Republicans who applauded every time George W. Bush expanded the power of the Executive Branch, these decisions cut both ways. In this case, if Democrats insist on prosecuting former Bush administration officials, they are opening the door for these types of prosecutions to become partisan and common.
Democrats had two years to investigate George W. Bush after they assumed control of Congress. Once again, I think a truth commission is a great idea. I like the idea of potentially disbarring the attorneys who knowingly warped existing laws when they authored the torture memos, but I don’t think that criminal prosecutions are the wise way to go. Cheney is guided by fear, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if his defense of torture is so vigorous because he is worried about saving his own skin.