Henry Farrell’s Modest Proposal
He first notes a contrast:
On the one side of the balance sheet, we have Richard B. Cheney. This gentleman, now in private life, is a self-admitted and unrepentant perpetrator of war crimes – specifically, of ordering the torture of Al Qaeda detainees. Along with other senior members of the Bush regime, he is also guilty of the outsourcing of even viler forms of torture through the extraordinary rendition of individuals to regimes notorious for torturing prisoners (including the dispatch of Maher Arar, who was entirely innocent, to the torturers of Syria). The Obama administration has shown no enthusiasm whatsoever for prosecuting Cheney, or other Bush senior officials, for their crimes. While Obama has effectively admitted that they were torturers, he has indicated both through public statements and continued inaction, that he would prefer to let bygones be bygones.
On the other, we have Bradley Manning. He appears to be a confused individual – but his initial motivation for leaking information, if the transcripts are correct, were perfectly clear. He was appalled at what he saw as major abuses of authority by the US, including incidents that he witnessed directly in Iraq. There is no evidence that his leaking of information has caused anything worse than embarrassment for the US. Yet he is being pursued by the Obama administration with the vengefulness of Greek Furies. While Manning was being kept in solitary confinement, and treated in an inhuman fashion, Richard Cheney was enjoying the manifold pleasures of a well-compensated private life, being subjected to no more than the occasional impertinent question on a Sunday talk show, and the inconveniences of being unable to travel to jurisdictions where he might be arrested.
His proposal? Presidential pardons for them both.
Conservatives: If it is truly your position that, for the safety of the state, sometimes grave crimes must be committed, and sometimes we may have to break our own laws to save them, then you should find no dishonor here.
Liberals: I expect you’ll like it a whole lot less, if that’s possible. But will we find any other admission that Bush, Cheney and company indeed did commit grave crimes in their pursuit of the War on Terror?