Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cheney responds to Amnesty International

Dick Cheney was interviewed on Larry King Live yesterday, and in the interview Cheney responded to the recent Amnesty International claims that the US is violating human rights:
KING: Amnesty International condemns the United States. How do you react?

D. CHENEY: I don't take them seriously?

KING: Not at all?

D. CHENEY: No. I -- frankly, I was offended by it. I think the fact of the matter is, the United States has done more to advance the cause of freedom, has liberated more people from tyranny over the course of the 20th century and up to the present day than any other nation in the history of the world. Think about what we did in World War I, World War II, throughout the Cold War. Just in this administration, we've liberated 50 million people from the Taliban in Afghanistan and from Saddam Hussein in Iraq, two terribly oppressive regimes that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of their own people. For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously.

KING: They specifically said, though, it was Guantanamo. They compared it to a gulag.

D. CHENEY: Not true. Guantanamo's been operated, I think, in a very sane and sound fashion by the U.S. military. Remember who's down there. These are people that were picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan and other places in the global war on terror. These are individuals who have been actively involved as the enemy, if you will, trying to kill Americans. That we need to have a place where we can keep them. In a sense, when you're at war, you keep prisoners of war until the war is over with.

We've also been able to derive significant amounts of intelligence from them that helped us understand better the organization and the adversary we face and helped us gather the kind of information that makes it possible for us to defend the United States against further attacks. And what we're doing down there has, I think, been done perfectly appropriately. I think these people have been well treated, treated humanely and decently.

Occasionally there are allegations of mistreatment. But if you trace those back, in nearly every case, it turns out to come from somebody who had been inside and been released by to their home country and now are peddling lies about how they were treated.
(from the CNN rush transcript)
Let's summarize Cheney's responses to the Amnesty International accusations:

1) I'm offended.

2) The US has done lots of good things.

3) The administrations we overthrew did lots of bad things.

4) We're at war, so we have to keep prisoners of war.

5) These prisoners have given us lots of information.

6) I think we're treating people well.

7) The allegations are only coming from people who have been released. They are liars.

Most of these responses have absolutely nothing to do with the statements made by Amnesty International that human rights violations are occuring in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Let's deal with them one at a time:

1) This has nothing to do with the issue (of course he's offended, they're accusing his administration of crimes).

2) Doing good deeds does not excuse criminal behavior.

3) Just because someone else does bad things doesn't mean you can do bad things too.

4) Being at war may justify imprisonment of certain persons, but does not justify torture or other cruel treatment.

5) The ends do not justify the means.

6) This is a somewhat relevant point, yet he provides no evidence for his belief.

7) That allegations of misconduct come primarily from released persons should not be surprising, since accusing your captors of misconduct is unlikely to elicit positive reactions from them. While it's possible the accusers may be lying, Cheney provides no evidence that they are.

Later in the interview Cheney says that we'll be out of Iraq by the end of Bush's term, and that the insurgency is in its "last throes":
KING: When do we leave?

D. CHENEY: We'll leave as soon as the task is over with. We haven't set a deadline or a date. It depends upon conditions. We have to achieve our objectives, complete the mission. And the two main requirements are, the Iraqis in a position to be able to govern themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that, and the other is able to defend themselves, and they're well on their way to doing that. They just announced that in the last day or two here, there've been stories about a major movement of some 40,000 Iraqi troops into Baghdad to focus specifically on the problem there.

KING: You expect it in your administration?

D. CHENEY: I do.

KING: To be removed. It's not going to be -- it's not going to be a 10-year event?

D. CHENEY: No. I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throws, if you will, of the insurgency. We've had reporting in recent days, Larry, about Zarqawi, who's sort of the lead terrorist, outside terrorist, al Qaeda, head of al Qaeda for Iraq, may well have been seriously injured. We don't know. We can't confirm that. We've had reporting to that effect.

So I think we're making major progress. And, unfortunately, as I say, it does involve sending young Americans in harm's way. But America will be safer in the long run when Iraq and Afghanistan as well are no longer safe havens for terrorists or places where people can gather and plan and organize attacks against the United States.

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