May 31, 2005
Dick Cheney says he's "offended."
Not by torture at Guantanamo.
But by Amnesty International's criticism of it.
Said Cheney on Larry King: "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously."
He doesn't have to.
He's one of the most powerful men in the world.
And when he says white is black and up is down, he doesn't expect to be contradicted. On the rare occasions that he is, he takes offense.
Cheney insisted that detainees at Guantanamo "have been well treated, treated humanely and decently."
But while he was saying that, more reports were coming out from U.S. tribunals at Guantanamo that echoed the torture that Amnesty International was describing.
"Americans hit me and beat me up so badly I believe I'm sexually dysfunctional," one detainee told the tribunal, according to AP. Another described how an American interrogator "threatened me with a gun to my mouth, to try to make me say something," the AP story by Paisley Dodds said.
And these aren't, by any means, the first such reports.
Mustafa Ait Idir had an especially gruesome experience, according to a lawsuit filed on his behalf.
"The guards secured his hands behind his back, and while he was so restrained the guards picked him up and slammed his body and his head into the steel bunk in his cell. The guards picked him up again and banged his head on the toilet in his cell . . . (and) stuffed Mr. Ait Idir's face in the toilet and repeatedly pressed the flush button. Mr. Ait Idir was starting to suffocate, and he feared he would drown. The guards then carried Mr. Ait Idir outside the cell and threw him on the ground. His hands still were manacled behind his back. They held him down and pushed a garden hose into his mouth. They opened the spigot. As the water rushed in, Mr. Ait Idir began to choke." After further beating that day, he suffered a stroke, the lawsuit says. (This account appears in Amnesty International USA's report, "Guantanamo and Beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power.")
Such treatment does not sound "humane" and "decent" to me.
But neither am I surprised by it.
Shortly after 9/11, Cheney told Tim Russert that the US would have to work "the dark side" and would have to use "any means at our disposal."
It's certainly done that.
But Cheney is hard-pressed to say now, to Larry King, that the dark side is humane and decent.