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Hannity’s BFF Cheney: “We Had Good, Tough Policies . . . We Succeeded"

Reported by Julie - December 10, 2009 -

Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson is my new hero. Responding to Dick Cheney’s recent comments (attacks) on President Obama (see my post on Part I of the Hannity-Cheney love-fest here), Grayson said, “On the Internet there's an acronym that's used to apply to situations like this: STFU.”

Hey, even Tiger Woods knows when to shut up. And here we have the former Vice-President of the United States who wants to just keep on talking. Thank neocon heaven for Fox News, where there’s always a willing ear for Dick Cheney to spin his yarns, engage in revisionist history, and desperately try to stave off what he evidently believes might be coming down the pike to land on him, given the terrorist trials to be held in New York City. On Tuesday night, Hannity supplied both a willing ear and some helpful PR for Cheney, and allowed him to make incorrect claims about history, nonsensical predictions of what will happen as a result of the New York City terrorist trials, and for the umpteenth time defend his evil actions with the we-kept-America-safe routine . . . well, except for that little not-safe period called 9/11, which happened on his watch. With video.

Hannity kicked it off, saying, “You said the president’s cerebral approach projects weakness and that the president is looking far more radical than you expected . . . How radical do you view him now . . . ?”

Cheney responded, predictably: “I think he’s demonstrated pretty conclusively now . . . that he’s more radical than [during the campaign].”

Hannity went for a two-fer -- to absolve Cheney of all wrongs and simultaneously bash President Obama – and supplied a lead to Cheney by saying, “In the speech he said . . . again, he goes back to this, I prevented, prohibited torture, I’m closing Guantanamo Bay, now they’re gonna try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and some other collaborators in a civilian court – reaction to that.”

“I think it’s a huge mistake,” Cheney responded. “The precedent exists for us to use military commissions. It was done by Roosevelt in WWI, it was done in connection with the plotters and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, set up a military commission, try these individuals, and if they’re guilty then you execute them. And the Supreme Court upheld that.”

Hannity, who we all know is no genius, either didn’t know or didn’t care that yes, in 1942 Roosevelt set up a military commission to try Nazi saboteurs but, as historycommons.org pointed out, “President Roosevelt, using what he calls his inherent power as commander in chief, creates a military commission to try eight Nazi saboteurs captured inside the US in the case of Ex parte Quirin. The eight are quickly found guilty and sentenced to death. The Supreme Court later backs Roosevelt’s authority to have them tried by a commission. The Court’s decision is unusually hasty, and several of the justices who voted in Roosevelt’s favor later express regret for their approval. Roosevelt himself is unsure of the procedure’s legality, the Court’s decision and his own powers as president notwithstanding. When more Nazi saboteurs are captured later in the war, they are tried in criminal courts.” (Emphasis added).

And, if you want the truth about America’s history, and not just Cheney’s misinformed spin, let’s talk about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln for a minute. In 1865, Attorney General James Speed wrote to the President, “You ask me whether the persons charged with the offense of having assassinated the President can be tried before a military tribunal, or must they be tried before a civil court. The President was assassinated at a theater in the city of Washington. At the time of the assassination a civil war as flagrant, the city of Washington was defended by fortifications regularly and constantly manned, the principal police of the city was by Federal soldiers, the public offices and property in the city were all guarded by soldiers, and the President's House and person were, or should have been, under the guard of soldiers. Martial law had been declared in the District of Columbia . . . the question is one of great importance . . . because it involves the constitutional guarantees thrown about the rights of the citizen, and because the security of the army and the government in time of war is involved . . . My conclusion, therefore, is, that if the persons who are charged with the assassination of the President committed the deed as public enemies, as I believe they did, and whether they did or not is a question to be decided by the tribunal before which they are tried, they not only can, but ought to be tried before a military tribunal. If the persons charged have offended against the laws of war, it would be as palpably wrong of the military to hand them over to the civil courts, as it would be wrong in a civil court to convict a man of murder who had, in time of war, killed another in battle.” (Emphasis added).

Whether it was legally right or wrong to try the eight conspirators before a military commission, all of the circumstances surrounding the assassination of President Lincoln – Commander in Chief of the Army – were different than the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Martial law was declared, and President Lincoln was Commander in Chief of the Army at a time of war. As tragic and dastardly as the events of 9/11 were, a president was not assassinated. And, in fact, there was, following Lincoln’s assassination, a dispute about whether the eight conspirators to the assassination should be tried in a civil or military court.

Cheney wasn’t finished – not with the misinformation, and not with the fear-mongering.

“Now we have a situation,” Cheney declared, “where they’re gonna bring KSM and his associates up to New York, put them in a federal civilian court. The danger of that in my mind is it’s gonna give KSM a huge platform. He’ll have the opportunity to go in there and do battle over the evidence, try to get his hands on classified material. Beyond that he’ll be able to go in whenever he’s up on the stand and proselytize, if you will, millions of people out there around the world including some of his radical Muslim friends and generate a whole new generation of terrorists.” What neither Hannity nor Cheney mentioned is that, according to Justice Department figures, the U.S. has tried 195 terrorist cases in civilian courts since 2001. Apparently, 195 times, the U.S. didn't find the task as daunting as Cheney does.

Do battle over the evidence – well, yes, that’s how it works in our country’s criminal courts under the Constitution. No matter how evil a criminal is – Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh – they get a chance to look at the evidence against them and do what they can with it. Cheney may have a legitimate fear, here, because if evidence is thrown out at trial because it was obtained through the use of torture, he can blame no one but himself. Of course, he won’t blame himself. In his psychotic mind, it will be the fault of our weak President who doesn’t know a good thing (torture) when he’s got it and weenies out by falling back on that pesky Constitution. And what’s this about proselytizing to a “whole new generation of terrorists?” Does Cheney really believe that holding terrorists at Gitmo indefinitely is a deterrent to terrorists around the world? When street gang members or drug dealers are tried in our courts, people don’t say, hey, they shouldn’t be tried in the court system because they might say stuff on the stand, you know, that encourages other people to join gangs and sell drugs. Like crabgrass, take one drug dealer down and another will pop up to take his place – and, New York City trial or not, the same goes for terrorists.

“Proselytizing . . . is there a worry that you would have that he may want to send a message to his fellow terrorists?” Hannity asked. Send a message? Is he kidding? Does he think this is going to be like the Manson followers, terrorists coming into court with some Allah symbol carved into their foreheads?

Even Cheney couldn't go that far, saying, “This may add to it a bit . . . this is a man who . . . has admitted his crime, said he expected to be tried before a military commission and executed down in Guantanamo. He wants to die for Allah, he’s proud of what he did . . . and the more visibility he gets for his continued activities, the more he’s gonna encourage others to think as he does and to embark on the same religious jihad . . . .”

So let me get this straight: Are these guys saying that anybody who commits a deadly, dastardly crime in the name of a religious or political idealogy should be considered a “soldier” and shouldn’t be tried in this country, or what? Abortion clinic bombers have declared a war – but they still get their day in court, with all the proselytizing and the publicity and the “platform” that comes along with it, even if it means they’ll “encourage others”. I doubt Fox has a problem with that. Nazis, with their twisted idealogy, get their day in court. McVeigh got his day in court, Theodore Kaczynsk, the Unibomber, got his. The Constitution – that document so alien to Hannity and Cheney -- declares it a right.

“He admitted that he was responsible . . . how likely is it that the evidence that they accumulated is now gonna be inadmissible because it’s a civilian trial but they didn’t give him Miranda rights?” The better question is, how likely is it that the evidence that they accumulated is now gonna be inadmissible because it was gained by the use of torture? It’s a question Hannity elected not to ask.

“I’m not a lawyer, Sean, I don’t want to make predictions,” Cheney said disingenuously, considering that he already had made predictions. “. . . I don’t know what’s gonna happen in those trials . . . I mean, we know he’s guilty. He’s one of the most evil men in history. He is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, and he ought to be punished for such.”

That sounds like someone else I know.

Hannity noted that, in an interview, Cheney said that the trial in New York City is “great for Al Qaeda. Pretty strong statement, what did you mean by that?”

“I mean that I think it will give aid and comfort to the enemy,” Cheney said pompously. “I think it will make Khalid Sheikh Mohammed something of a hero in certain circles, especially in the radical regions of Islam around the world. It’ll put him on the map. He’ll be as important or more important than Osama bin Laden. And we will have made it possible. We will have given him that platform, that opportunity, to come here and there’s absolutely no need to do that. There’s all the precedent in the world for prosecuting him in a military commission at Guantanamo and so forth.”

Hannity again brought up the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, the assassination of Lincoln and World War II, and said, “And they changed the policy in this particular case. Is all of this predicated on the president’s belief . . . that maybe Barack Obama [it’s President Obama to you, pal], his administration, doesn’t believe there’s a war on terror?”

“I think so,” Cheney said. “I state it slightly differently, but it’s very consistently your concept. I think the key that happened on 9/11 is we went from considering terrorist attacks as a law enforcement problem to considering terrorist attacks, especially on the scale we had on 9/11, as being an act of war. When you lose 16 acres of downtown Manhattan, people jumping out of the 80th story of the Trade Center to avoid being burned alive, the attack on the Pentagon, the possible attack on the White House and the Capitol Building, this is an act of war. And that changes your whole strategy, it should, in terms of the means you’re prepared to use in order to defend against that kind of attack in the future. What I see happening here is the Obama Administration is now going back to that old pre-9/11 concept that this is all about individual crimes and a problem for law enforcement, it’s not a war to be fought and prosecuted as we ordinarily would prosecute.”

So, in Cheney’s world, we can cherry-pick what we think are “big” crimes and what are “little” crimes, and the “big” crimes based on some political or religious ideology we call war, and the “little” crimes that are just, like, a double murder, we call criminal – and that’s why we have this thing called the Constitution, which dictates how criminals are tried. And more importantly, implying that terrorists are “soldiers” – which Cheney repeatedly does -- gives them more of a platform than leading them into a federal court in chains. As Judge William Young told the Shoe Bomber, who, at sentencing, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden, “You are not an enemy combatant. You are a terrorist. You are not a soldier in any war. You are a terrorist. To give you that reference, to call you a soldier gives you far too much stature . . . And we do not negotiate with terrorists. We do not treat with terrorists. We do not sign documents with terrorists. We hunt them down one by one and bring them to justice . . . You're no warrior. I know warriors. You are a terrorist. A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders.” Those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks are just that: A species of criminal guilty of multiple attempted murders. I want them to face their accusers – and, more importantly, I want their accusers to face them.

And then we got down to the nitty-gritty, when Hannity asked, “Do you think part of this is to put our CIA on trial, to put you on trial, to put President Bush [oh, I see -- President Obama is “Barack Obama,” but Bush is still “President Bush?”] on trial, or maybe if it’s not designed to do that, ultimately will that happen?”

“Uh, I don’t know,” Cheney responded blandly. “I don’t know whether that’s the motive for them or not. It could be. It could be that Holder expects to be able to use this to go back and sort of review in-depth the Bush-Cheney Administration policies in terms of what we did to predict, prevent attacks against the United States. I think that’s a loser for them. I think the vast majority of the American people appreciate the fact that we had good, tough policies, we had great people carrying them out, and we succeeded.”

As long as Fox News gives him a platform – and he’d probably have to shoot Roger Ailes in the face this time for them not to -- Dick is going to keep talking. Please, everybody, join me in a chorus of “STFU.”