The Talking Dog

April 30, 2009, Jailed at last, jailed at last...

The bizarre extra-legal saga of Ali Saleh Al-Marri [the second most important case of our lifetimes, after Padilla's] appears to be at an end, with America's last stateside "enemy combatant" pleading guilty to purportedly providing support to Al Qaeda, with sentence to follow of up to 15 years (with some significant credit for time-served, presumably). For background on this bizarre case, check out my interview with Al-Marri's attorney Jonathan Hafetz.

The obvious question is... after six years of the inhuman cruelty of holding Al-Marri in total isolation is... why was this so damned hard? When presented with the possibility of a fair trial, Al-Marri folded and entered a guilty plea (just as took place with other war on terror players actually charged in the criminal justice system, such as John Walker Lindh, Harry Richard Reid, and Zaccarias Moussaoui). Why was it necessary to try to set the example that persons lawfully in the United States could be "disappeared" without judicial proceeding? Precisely for the purpose of demonstrating that the government could do it, and get away with it.

And now, doubtless, the usual suspects will tell us how dictatorial tactics were appropriate all along, because, well, Al-Marri has admitted to being a terrrrrrrorist. Which has never been the point: the point is... we could have shown the world that we deal even with terrorists in an orderly, just and fair manner. But nooooo... we had to have demonstration projects for disappearing people.

And so, at the end of the day, the handling of Al-Marri's case has made us all less safe, by an almost infinite factor... (1) because not only are we less safe because of how many additional terrorists our actions have enabled A.Q. and the other bad guys to recruit, and (2) because now it is established law (at least in one of our federal circuits, the one that includes Maryland, Virginia and the Carolinas) that the United States is a dictatorship: the President can wave a wand and utter "Enemy Combatantus"... and you, me, or anyone, can be disappeared at executive whim, beyond the ken of the courts.

And if you ask me... and boys and girls, I was a block from the WTC on 9-11 and I go to work every day halfway between the New York Stock Exchange and the former WTC... and the President right now was a college classmate of mine... and yet, how can I say this: it's the second one that scares the hell out of me, and (for those of you who don't have your heads up your asses) should scare the hell out of you too.

As always... that's just me.

April 28, 2009, Slow news day

We'll start with the explosive news story of the day (Ha! It's not that Keystone State Turncoat! The guy who felt free to condemn Jim Jeffords' 2001 switch to independent!. And no... it's not about swine flu, either... despite pork producers' insistence that the name is hurting business. And indeed, it's not even the confirmation, finally, of a Health and Human Services Secretary, former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius... an HHS Sec in place for the signature health care program of the Administration... perhaps...)

It IS this story: the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' rejection (as in IN YOUR FACE, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION, FOR EVEN THINKING ABOUT ADOPTING A BUSH-ERA POLICY) of a blanket claim to state secrets immunity in a suit brought by torture victims (including Binyam Mohammad) against Boeing's Jeppesen Dataplan subsidiary (The Travel Agent for Torture[TM]).

What's the signifance of that story, TD? I mean, we know you get all obsessive over GTMO and torture and all that sort of sh*t... but... I mean, surely these other things are important stories, right? Especially Arlen "All-is-forgiven-now" Specter, right?

Ummm... wrong. The only thing that Specter's self-interested switch (he was going to lose a GOP primary to former Rep. Pat Toomey... Arlen is a man whose allegiance is ruled by expedience) accomplishes is to remove any cover the President might have had if his agenda proves unsuccessful or unpopular: although 51 senators is usually considered a majority, with Harry Reid in the unfortunate (for the rest of us) position of Majority Leader, 60 seemed to be needed... so Arlen obliges and takes us there (assuming Al Franken ever manages to get himself sworn in... )

That said, the President seemed to have no major problems passing the major signature programs he wanted with Specter in the ranks of the GOP: deficit spending as far as the eye can see to cover (apparently) bold initiatives in education, health care, energy research and other cool sh*t that we liberals are supposed to kvell over, with a slight nod to progressive taxation... except, of course, that on closer review, the initiatives aren't so bold (except for the spending part). Since he could already pass those things with Specter's assistance whether Specter called himself a Republican or a Democrat or a Klingon... nothing has really changed that much, frankly, save the label (and possibly, eventually, the committee chairmanships... Arlen's pretty damned senior in the Senate). Sorry, Arlen... but the guy who complained that the Military Commissions Act was setting the clock back 800 years and then voted for it anyway... is just not an o.k. guy in my book. While I've gone down to Pennsylvania on Election Day the last two federal election cycles to assist Democratic candidates, I'm not sure I can go in good conscience to support you, Arlen. Sorry. I just don't see this as all that "big" a story, though it certainly seemed explosive and shocking when I first read about it.

No, no. What DOES matter is the quiet judicial revolution to restore the Constitution that seems to be breaking out all over the place (except for the D.C. Circuit) with today's development in the West Coast's Ninth Circuit (home of Judge Jay "Bugs" Bybee)... pretty big. In this case, the Obama Administration has made it clear that it intends to protect the torturers even from disclosure, let alone from actual accountability: the Ninth Circuit's "in your face" will doubtless force the Obama Administration to rethink whether it wants to risk a Supreme Court repudiation of its adoption of a Bush-era policy... or whether it wants to do what it was elected to do and what the President took an oath to do: uphold and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic (and the current Republican party leadership would have to be considered strong enemies of the Constitution right about now, and John McCain, I'm looking right at you, a**hole.)

So there. A huge day for our Constitution... though, as this comes from a lower court... we'll just have to stick around and see if this sticks.

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April 27, 2009, Greetings from the first 100 days

Ivan Eland, correctly, tells us that the whole "100 days" thing is grossly overrated; I agree. But on with the opera...

Let's just say I'm glad that I missed "the live performance" of this one: low flying jetliners that buzzed within window rattling distance of skyscrapers in lower Manhattan this morning, that were nothing more than a freaking photo op to have Air Force One's picture taken over the Statue of Liberty; the President was not on board, and purported to be not amused. By deciding to err on the side of secrecy, untold numbers of office workers in both lower Manhattan and Jersey City rushed out of their offices into the streets, fearing a reprise of September 11th. Apparently, the geniuses in Washington decided to keep this a secret from, oh, the public, and only told a rather obscure New York City official, who evidently, failed to notify the Mayor, or the police.

Meanwhile, now that Spring break travel (and profit) opportunities are safely over, the World Health Organization now tells us not to travel to Mexico, over concerns about the swine flu outbreak, which threatens to become a pandemic. One would tend to think this is the sort of thing the American government ought to have known about and told Americans about, at least giving Americans a fighting chance to make a choice, before traveling to Mexico and then returning home to their school in Queens with a nasty possible pandemic spreading flu virus. This outbreak would certainly seem to have been around longer than last weekend, when we first found out about it... what gives?

But then... the Obama Administration seems hellbent on keeping lots of things secret (as in 'state secret") even as it preaches "transparency and openness" in others.

Like the rest of the first 100 days (almost 97 of them in hand now)... a mixed bag... a vast improvement over his predecessor because his predecessor was so God-awful... but many areas remain ripe for improvement (such as the abysmal one prisoner released from our tropical gulag). The easiest way for the President to ensure a successful presidency is to look at what his predecessor did... and then do something else. Short of maintaining his bodily functions by such activities as eating, drinking, evacuating and breathing, I can't think of a single area where taking this advice wouldn't apply fruitfully.

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April 26, 2009, Obligations

Glenn Greenwald has a great interview with Manfred Nowak, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. Professor Nowak assures us that our President's proposal for an advance blanket amnesty of torturers is right out: all nations that signed the Torture Conventions (and that includes the United States) have an obligation to investigate allegations of torture. Period.

Professor Nowak tells us that the investigations, at least, do not have to be criminal in nature, but if crimes of torture are uncovered during those investigations, they must be referred to prosecutors who, in the course of their discretion, may or may not prosecute (and if they do, courts may or may not convict).

In other words, as long as criminal prosecutions are not precluded, American obligations under international law, at this stage, anyway, could be satisfied with Senator Leahy's "truth and reconciliation" commission, or with other Congressional committee investigations, with a "9-11 commission" type structure, or with a conventional criminal investigation by the Attorney General or by a special prosecutor.

In short, Mr. President, you have "flexibility" to do virtually anything except make the Village Elders happy by preordaining the outcome at this stage, as you have tried to do. But I'm beginning to think the Obama Administration may realize this... even as former Vice President Cheney takes to the talk-circuit almost demanding that he be investigated first. Well... stick around, boys and girls; while some of us may or may not like the outcomes, I can at least promise that the denouement will be interesting...

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April 23, 2009, To the top

The elevator may not have gone to the top in the Bush Administration... but, as McClatchy is now reporting, memos obtained revealed that the authorization for torture did go right to the top: former Vice President Dick Cheney and then-national security advisor Condi Rice. [H/T to Make them Accountable for many of today's items, btw.]

To his credit, former President George W. Bush is maintaining a low profile these days, knowing that the impetus to accountability against him personally may just not be there, as his own role is arguably somewhat murky, and he can always have the dodge of having relied on others for advice. Not so Dick Cheney, of course, who is hitting the hustings with his current round of lies about the efficacy of torture. Perhaps, in his own delusional world, he believes them, but no less a figure than FBI Director Robert Mueller assures us that he is not aware of any terror plots foiled as a result of "enhanced interrogation." Unless I'm missing something, Dick is almost daring the Obama Administration to indict him... stick around!

It seems things is a movin' on their own now: even Congress has reached the point where it feels its political bread is buttered more by investigating torture than by sweeping it under a rug, with at least one member of Congress, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schulz of Florida, suggesting that Judge Jay "Bugs" Bybee's days on the federal bench may soon be numbered. A British court has ordered disclosure of U.S. torture documents in former GTMO detainee and torture victim Binyam Mohammad's case... stay tuned! Despite the rather unsatisfactory "middling" position the President has taken on this torture issue thus far, he may have opened up a bigger can o' whoop-ass than he envisioned... or perhaps, the Macchiavellian grandmaster saw all this coming all along?

Regardless of what the President anticipated (and we have no reason to believe this was particularly well thought out, btw)... we can always count on the self-obsessive and self-referential media to have its head up its ass, as our friend the always insightful Eric Boehert tells us here... the media's obsessive concern is with Washington process: how disclosure of the torture memos will play at Beltway cocktail parties and what it says about Obama's "style" and similar crap and so forth, rather than with the story itself. And what a story: in our time, the government of the supposedly most advanced nation in the world took it upon itself to revert hundreds of years to Medieval torture chambers, based on the misguided and criminal acts of a few sociopaths and psychotics who managed to obtain positions of power. But try getting that through the Village Elders who decide what is important enough for us to be told.

Times... they are a changin'... well, we can hope that, anyway.

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April 20, 2009, Fair is fair

Former Vice President Dick Cheney [my interview with the former V.P. is here] has suggested that, while the Obama Administration is weakening the United States and doing other "unhelpful" things like shaking hands with [Bush Administration Creation] Hugo Chavez... the Obama Administration was giving us a misleading assessment of torture in its release of Bush-era torture memos by... wait for it... not releasing memos showing all the successes generated by torture.

Poor Vice President Cheney. First we held back the memos showing the evidence of WMDs in Iraq and Saddam's direct links to al Qaeda, and now the Obama Administration is holding back all the memos showing the successes generated by America's reenactments of the Spanish Inquisition and Roman and Mongol Empires. Indeed, the Obama Administration is doubtless also holding back memos setting forth evidence of extraterrestrial life.

It all just doesn't seem fair, does it?

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April 19, 2009, It takes a village

Back from a fortnight's holiday visiting with dear friends, and ready for action... well, back anyway. And what did we miss?

We'll try to spare each other the more obvious, such as the bleakonomic news, and move on to really happy stuff... like...

The White House press secretary laughing it up with the White House press corps over... torture. Absolutely hilarious... the equivalent of a fraternity prank, perhaps?

Look: I know there are others who will provide more useful analysis of the whole torture memo thing... so I'll get right to it. What got me most among the 100 pages of clinical legal reasoning (of the kind I look at for a living, though not, of course, on the subject of torture of human beings) were the blithe suggestions (by Judge Jay Bybee and his ghost-writer Professor John Yoo) of the possibility of introducing "harmless, cute little caterpillars" into a coffin-sized confinement space and representing to the torturee that it was a stinging, poisonous insect... does this:

1) attention grasp, (2) walling, (3) facial hold, (4) facial slap (insult slap), (5) cramped confinement, (6) wall standing, (7) stress positions, (8) sleep deprivation, (9) insects placed in a confinement box, and (10) the waterboard.

To be more specific:

You would like to place Zubaydah in a cramped confinement with an insect. You have informed us that he appears to have a fear of insects. In particular, you would like to tell Zubaydah that you intend to place a stinging insect into the box with him. You would, however, place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect in the box. You have orally informed us that you would in fact place a harmless insect such as a caterpillar in the box with him.

Does this just happen to remind anyone of this(?): Oh, I'll just give you the whole God damned chapter:


George Orwell

Chapter 23

At each stage of his imprisonment he had known, or seemed to know, whereabouts he was in the windowless building. Possibly there were slight differences in the air pressure. The cells where the guards had beaten him were below ground level. The room where he had been interrogated by O'Brien was high up near the roof. This place was many metres underground, as deep down as it was possible to go.

It was bigger than most of the cells he had been in. But he hardly noticed his surroundings. All he noticed was that there were two small tables straight in front of him, each covered with green baize. One was only a metre or two from him, the other was further away, near the door. He was strapped upright in a chair, so tightly that he could move nothing, not even his head. A sort of pad gripped his head from behind, forcing him to look straight in front of him.

For a moment he was alone, then the door opened and O'Brien came in.

" You asked me once ", said O'Brien, " what was in Room 101. I told you that you knew the answer already. Everyone knows it. The thing that is in Room 101 is the worst thing in the world."

The door opened again. A guard came in, carrying something made of wire, a box or basket of some kind. He set it down on the further table. Because of the position in which O'Brien was standing. Winston could not see what the thing was.

" The worst thing in the world ", said O'Brien, " varies from individual to individual. It may be burial alive, or death by fire, or by drowning, or by impalement, or fifty other deaths. There are cases where it is some quite trivial thing, not even fatal."

He had moved a little to one side, so that Winston had a better view of the thing on the table. It was an oblong wire cage with a handle on top for carrying it by. Fixed to the front of it was something that looked like a fencing mask, with the concave side outwards. Although it was three or four metres away from him, he could see that the cage was divided lengthways into two compartments, and that there was some kind of creature in each. They were rats.

" In your case ", said O'Brien, " the worst thing in the world happens to be rats."

A sort of premonitory tremor, a fear of he was not certain what, had passed through Winston as soon as he caught his first glimpse of the cage. But at this moment the meaning of the mask-like attachment in front of it suddenly sank into him. His bowels seemed to turn to water.

" You can't do that ! " he cried out in a high cracked voice. " You couldn't, you couldn't ! It's impossible."

" Do you remember ", said O'Brien, " the moment of panic that used to occur in your dreams ? There was a wall of blackness in front of you, and a roaring sound in your ears. There was something terrible on the other side of the wall. You knew that you knew what it was, but you dared not drag it into the open. It was the rats that were on the other side of the wall."

" O'Brien ! " said Winston, making an effort to control his voice. " You know this is not necessary. What is it that you want me to do ? "

O'Brien made no direct answer. When he spoke it was in the schoolmasterish manner that he sometimes affected. He looked thoughtfully into the distance, as though he were addressing an audience somewhere behind Winston's back.

" By itself ", he said, " pain is not always enough. There are occasions when a human being will stand out against pain, even to the point of death. But for everyone there is something unendurable - something that cannot be contemplated. Courage and cowardice are not involved. If you are falling from a height it is not cowardly to clutch at a rope. If you have come up from deep water it is not cowardly to fill your lungs with air. It is merely an instinct which cannot be destroyed. It is the same with the rats. For you, they are unendurable. They are a form of pressure that you cannot withstand. even if you wished to. You will do what is required of you.

" But what is it, what is it ? How can I do it if I don't know what it is ?"

O'Brien picked up the cage and brought it across to the nearer table. He set it down carefully on the baize cloth. Winston could hear the blood singing in his ears. He had the feeling of sitting in utter loneliness. He was in the middle of a great empty plain, a flat desert drenched with sunlight, across which all sounds came to him out of immense distances. Yet the cage with the rats was not two metres away from him. They were enormous rats. They were at the age when a rat's muzzle grows blunt and fierce and his fur brown instead of grey.

" The rat ", said O'Brien, still addressing his invisible audience, " although a rodent, is carnivorous. You are aware of that. You will have heard of the things that happen in the poor quarters of this town. In some streets a woman dare not leave her baby alone in the house, even for five minutes. The rats are certain to attack it. Within quite a small time they will strip it to the bones. They also attack sick or dying people. They show astonishing intelligence in knowing when a human being is helpless."

There was an outburst of squeals from the cage. It seemed to reach Winston from far away. The rats were fighting ; they were trying to get at each other through the partition. He heard also a deep groan of despair. That, too, seemed to come from outside himself.

O'Brien picked up the cage, and, as he did so, pressed something in it. There was a sharp click. Winston made a frantic effort to tear himself loose from the chair. It was hopeless; every part of him, even his head, was held immovably. O'Brien moved the cage nearer. It was less than a metre from Winston's face.

" I have pressed the first lever ", said O'Brien. " You understand the construction of this cage. The mask will fit over your head, leaving no exit. When I press this other lever, the door of the cage will slide up. These starving brutes will shoot out of it like bullets. Have you ever seen a rat leap through the air ? They will leap on to your face and bore straight into it. Sometimes they attack the eyes first. Sometimes they burrow through the cheeks and devour the tongue."

The cage was nearer ; it was closing in. Winston heard a succession of shrill cries which appeared to be occurring in the air above his head. But he fought furiously against his panic. To think, to think, even with a split second left - to think was the only hope. Suddenly the foul musty odour of the brutes struck his nostrils. There was a violent convulsion of nausea inside him, and he almost lost consciousness. Everything had gone black. For an instant he was insane, a screaming animal. Yet he came out of the blackness clutching an idea. There was one and only one way to save himself. He must interpose another human being, the body of another human being, between himself and the rats.

The circle of the mask was large enough now to shut out the vision of anything else. The wire door was a couple of hand-spans from his face. The rats knew what was coming now. One of them was leaping up and down, the other, an old scaly grandfather of the sewers, stood up, with his pink hands against the bars, and fiercely sniffed the air. Winston could see the whiskers and the yellow teeth. Again the black panic took hold of him. He was blind, helpless, mindless.

" It was a common punishment in Imperial China ", said O'Brien as didactically as ever.

The mask was closing on his face. The wire brushed his cheek. And then - no, it was not relief, only hope, a tiny fragment of hope. Too late, perhaps too late. But he had suddenly understood that in the whole world there was just one person to whom he could transfer his punishment - one body that he could thrust between himself and the rats. And he was shouting frantically, over and over.

" Do it to Julia ! Do it to Julia ! Not me ! Julia ! I don't care what you do to her. Tear her face off, strip her to the bones. Not me ! Julia ! Not me ! "

He was falling backwards, into enormous depths, away from the rats. He was still strapped in the chair, but he had fallen through the floor, through the walls of the building, through the earth, through the oceans, through the atmosphere, into outer space, into the gulfs between the stars - always away, away, away from the rats. He was light years distant, but O'Brien was still standing at his side. There was still the cold touch of wire against his cheek. But through the darkness that enveloped him he heard another metallic click, and knew that the cage door had clicked shut and not open.

part 3 chapter 6

We have the Government we deserve, people. If they talked about it, they did it; we have no reason to believe otherwise. And why not? The whole bloody thing was just a demonstration project to show that they could do it, and get away with it. And now, the exclamation point is that my own college classmate The President, in the interest of demonstrating his commitment to the Grand and Holy Corporation that Owns Us All, is providing the "get away with it" part. Are we going to stand for this?

Are we? For those who believe in immortal souls... that's about the only thing on the line... no big deal...

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April 4, 2009, Happy happy fun fun

Don't know why I'm in such a "happy happy fun fun" mood today, but I thought I'd just give you a sampling of other "happy" people... (I will note that the young 'un today made her Dear Old Dad proud today when, amidst a technical operation which required the generalized plea to providence, "Let's hope this works out"... said, smiling and in as sunny a manner as possible, "I'm a PESSIMIST!") Anyway, h/t for a number of these items to Make them Accountable.

We'll start with this Der Spiegel interview of Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics, former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, and professor at me and Barack's alma mater, Columbia University, who tells us about the current economic situation: "It's going to be bad, very bad." Among other things, bank bailout activity should be designed to get banks to lend, and not give away taxpayer money to dividends and bonuses as now... "nationalization" is going to have to happen for real...

James K. Galbraith tells us that officials used to "normal times"may not be up to the extraordinary times we are now in... or, perhaps as Professor Stiglitz told us... things are going to be bad... very bad.

We'll continue with this story about a threatened jail sentence of (our hero) Clive Stafford-Smith for sending the President a memo after it was redacted by a classified document review team concerning his client's undeniable torture at the hands of the United States and its allies and contractors. Not the underlying classified memo that identified individuals, mind you, but simply the blanked out page that censors had totally eviscerated. Stafford Smith has chalked this up to yet further intimidation against him for his aggressive representation of GTMO detainees, similar to "the underwear incident" of circa 2007.

Sadly, a "cautious" Obama Administration continues to err on the side of protecting war criminals and torturers, and again delays release of a number of "torture memos" prepared by former Justice Dept. official Stephen Bradbury.

And finally, to tie it all together... check out this from Dmitri Orlov ("Kolpasnik") on how the Russian world "fuffle," which has a bizarre English cognate, meaning a fraud deliberately manufactured to get someone to go for it... describes virtually everything happening to us... in short, we want to be fooled. We want to believe that the way to make us "safe" is for the government to impose dictatorial and tyrannical methods. That the way to get us out of an oil crisis is to encourage us to use bigger and more inefficient vehicles as fast as possible. That the way out of a debt crisis is to borrow ever more amounts of money.

Orlov's basic premise (his Club Orlov is proudly on "the dog run" blogroll now) is that much of our "vaunted" way of life is, like the other former super-power, the USSR, pretty much doomed because of a fundamental dependence on something that can't possibly last forever, i.e., cheap, readily available oil... and because we seem hellbent on not solving some fundamental imbalances in our lifestyle, instead, making them worse... just so long as we hear "happy talk" and that everything is wonderful, all the time. Or perhaps, is it really even a "con" when the "mark" seemingly wants to be conned?

Don't know. All I can say is... see above re: "bad... very bad." This has been... happy happy fun fun.

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April 2, 2009, Unlikely judicial heroes

Candace tells us that Judge John Bates did our Constitution a huge solid today by ruling that three Bagram detainees who were moved there from outside of Afghanistan could challenge the legality of their detention in American courts, citing the Supreme Court's rulings that the U.S. government cannot evade the Constitution by moving prisoners to locations it claims are beyond law.

Judge Bates has made a number of rulings with respect to Candace's client al-Ghizzawi with which we have disagreed... but today, he deserves all of our props for a courageous ruling that means that the concept of zones of lawlessness will not be recognized at law. And once again, the Obama Administration is reminded that we voted for "change"... adopting the most loathsome policy of the Bush Administration is not a good policy... or usually even a lawful policy.

April 1, 2009, TD Blog Interview with Dick Cheney

Richard Bruce Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States of America until January 20th of this year, having previously served as a member of Congress, Secretary of Defense and White House Chief of Staff. On April 1, 2009, I had the privilege of interviewing Vice President Cheney by telephone, from an undisclosed location; what follows are my interview notes.

The Talking Dog: Mr. Vice President, let me thank you for doing this interview; as you know, I have not always agreed with policies you and President Bush put in place, so let me commend you on being so open-minded.

Dick Cheney: Go f*ck yourself.

The Talking Dog: Hmmm... During the inauguration of President Barack Obama, you appeared to be in a good deal of pain; I note that you were moved on a wheel chair. How are you feeling now, Sir?

Dick Cheney: Except for the occasional heart attack, I never felt better.

The Talking Dog: Let me ask you some questions about your historical role...

Dick Cheney: I had other priorities in the sixties than military service.

The Talking Dog: What I meant to ask...

Dick Cheney: Go f*ck yourself.

The Talking Dog: Well, let me start by asking you how you believe history will regard the Administration led by President Bush and yourself.

Dick Cheney: My belief is we will, in fact, be greeted as liberators.

The Talking Dog: With the benefit of hindsight, do you have any regrets or anything you'd like to do differently concerning the fateful decision to go to war with Iraq?

Dick Cheney: In Iraq, a ruthless dictator cultivated weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them. He gave support to terrorists, had an established relationship with al Qaeda, and his regime is no more.

The Talking Dog: But other than the part about Saddam being a ruthless dictator whose regime is no more, the rest of what you said there is not true...

Dick Cheney: We know he's been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons, and we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.

The Talking Dog: But Sir, we don't know that at all... no WMDs were ever actually found...

Dick Cheney: Go f*ck yourself.

The Talking Dog: Let me turn to current events... while there has been much controversy over the effectiveness of "the Surge," and it seems, both President Bush before and now President Obama have agreed to a scheme by which US troops will leave Iraq, how would you assess the current situation in Iraq?

Dick Cheney: I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

The Talking Dog: While issues of security dominated the Bush-Cheney Administration... can I refer to the Administration that way...?

Dick Cheney: Oh, yeah. Big time.

The Talking Dog: While security issues dominated, by the end, everything seemed to be taken over by the financial crisis... can you comment on the Bush-Cheney Administration 's handling of the financial crisis?

Dick Cheney: There are a lot of lessons we want to learn out of this process in terms of what works. I think we are in fact on our way to getting on top of the whole Katrina exercise.

The Talking Dog: I see our time is running short... anything else I should have asked you but didn't, or anything else you'd like to comment on?

Dick Cheney: Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.

The Talking Dog: Anything else?

Dick Cheney: Go f*ck yourself.

The Talking Dog: Thank you, Sir; I join all of my readers in thanking former Vice President Dick Cheney for that... interesting... interview.

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