The most shocking aspect of Dick Cheney's recent interview to shore up a failed legacy is that he can say anything that is still shocking. But Cheney truly outdid himself on Fox News on Sunday, and he has crossed the threshold into unambiguous criminality.
With that curmudgeonly half-smile reminiscent of a predatory crocodile, Cheney calmly claimed that the president is not bound by law during times of war. Allow that thought to sink in for a moment before continuing your day. Note that the war on terror is timeless, meaning that Cheney has claimed for himself and Bush unlimited power unconstrained by law or the bounds imposed by the constitution or by time.
Whatever the president does during war is legal, according to Cheney. Has this man never actually read the constitution, or the Federalist Papers or notes from the Constitutional Congress? One of the greatest concerns that our Founding Fathers wrestled with was an expanding executive power unchecked by a weak Judicial or Legislative Branch. The folks who drafted the constitution specifically, clearly, deliberately sought to limit the powers of the executive as a founding principle. What Cheney claims is precisely the notion the Founding Fathers feared the most. In spite of Cheney's extraordinarily bizarre claim, no president is above the law. Yet in the next breath, after openly declaring himself above the law, with no hint of irony, Cheney boasted that he and Bush have acted in ways completely consistent with the constitution.
Worse, though, than Cheney's gross ignorance of our history are the obscene consequences of his twisted views. If we take his words even partially seriously, he means quite clearly that the president can, during this endless war on terror, authorize against American citizens such heinous crimes such as beatings, torture, murder, property confiscation, indefinite detention with no representation, and unlimited warrantless spying, if the president alone decides such actions advance the cause of war. We now have Moscow on the Potomac. If you are a victim of the president's wrath, you would have no appeal, because by definition the president's acts are legal. Welcome to hell.
Let's be clear about what has been said here, because Cheney has now openly justified crimes at the White House. The man actually claims, really said on national television, that "whatever the president does during war is legal." That claim is perhaps the biggest single assault on the integrity of our political and legal system since our republic was formed. The claim is so outrageous, so over the top, so dangerous, so wrong at so many levels that they present a real danger to our future. And the American people are shrugging this off and changing the channel.
Folks, Cheney's proclamation should be front page news with a font as big as when we landed on the moon. His views, and his actions representative of those views, are a clear and present danger to this country. This is no exaggeration or hysterical plea: Cheney believes and openly declares that the president's powers are unlimited. Can you pronounce dictator? Can you say Czar? History has shown what unlimited power brings, and that is Stalin, Mussolini and Hitler. Yet Cheney goes on Fox News and claims that our president, the President of the United States of America, has the same unlimited powers as those monsters. Whatever the president does is legal. That is the most frightening declaration any public official in our history has ever made.
My fellow citizens, Cheney's claims require an overwhelming response of revulsion. Write to your Senator and Representative right now, and demand that the Congress hold hearings, asking Cheney to testify under oath to explain his statements. This is the time, right now, for the Legislative Branch to exert its power over an Executive Branch that has gone completely and utterly mad.
This is not just another news story to be forgotten tomorrow. The Vice President of our country has declared a dictatorship. Wake up.