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Don't Let Cheney Pick the Battlefield

My point is simple: We cannot let Dick Cheney set the terms of America's debate about torture.
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My posts sometimes go on a bit.

Tonight will be different. My point is simple: We cannot let Dick Cheney set the terms of America's debate about torture.

The former vice president is calling on President Obama to release more secret documents. Cheney claims Obama is hiding proof that waterboarding and other disgraceful interrogation techniques were "enormously valuable in terms of saving lives and preventing another mass-casualty attack on the U.S."

Now, there are any number of ways of responding to this claim. The editorial board of the New York Times went with this response:

"Mr. Cheney claims that the waterboarding saved thousands of lives. Most accounts that don't come from officials involved in the formation of those policies suggest that that is not the case. The question needs to be answered so Americans can decide if they want to buy into Mr. Cheney's view that the ends always justify such barbaric means."

Wrong. Totally wrong.

This is not a question that "needs to be answered." Cheney had eight years in power to press this question if it is so damn important. But it is not important. It's a question as relevant to American democracy as appointing a blue-ribbon commission to study what advantages and efficiencies we might achieve by repudiating the Declaration of Independence and rejoining the British Empire.

Here. Just watch a man talk some sense. The man is Shepard Smith of Fox News. Seriously. As Andrew Sullivan put it, Smith "sums up in remarkable clarity what I sometimes use too many words to say." (Now, be forewarned. You are about to hear a very passionate, patriotic Shep Smith accidentally say a word that starts with an "F" and ends with an "UCKING." But trust me when I say it's for a good cause.)

Got that? "I don't give a rat's ass if it helps. We are America! We do not f**king torture!"

Shep Smith, ladies and gentlemen. Of the dreaded Fox News.

This does not need to be a partisan issue. In fact, any Republican who's out there backing Cheney on this should pause long enough to read Wednesday's Andrew Sullivan post called "What Cheney Did To Conservatism."

None of us -- not conservatives, not anybody - should let Cheney distract us right now. There's no way for both Cheney and America to win here. So Cheney needs to lose.

Do not let him frame the debate. Do not let him pick the battlefield.

Huffington Post blogger David Quigg's previous posts about torture, civil liberties, and the "War on Terror" are archived here. His Twitter feed is here.

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