Is Dick Cheney Above the Law?

He obviously thinks he is. How else to explain his veiled threat not to co-operate with the probe of detainee interrogation? We already know he doesn’t like the probe. He’s called it partisan, says the techniques used by the CIA were legal and saved lives, blah blah, blah.

Yet when asked in a Fox News interview if he’d talk to prosecutor John Durham once the probe got started, here’s what Cheney said. “It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in.” That would seem to mean he won’t talk to Durham unless he feels like it. Right now, that means he doesn’t feel like it.

What makes Cheney think he, as a former elected official, is empowered to thumb his nose at a legitimate inquiry? And why is he taking the position that anything the CIA did in the wake of September 11th was legal and warranted?

The former VP went on in the interview to mention how this investigation will demoralize the intelligence community. This is old stuff. He wants us to believe any look back at how the Bush Administration conducted the war on terror must be an organized plot by the left wing of the Democratic Party.

Some facts to keep in mind. President Obama has said only those who acted without legal authorization face the possibility of legal action. Both the president and Attorney General Eric Holder have said those who acted on legal advice from the Justice Dept. won’t be prosecuted.

And of course, there’s Cheney’s assertion that even those interrogators who went over the line provided crucial intelligence that saved the lives of Americans. Even Sen. John McCain got off the bus on that one. So you have to go back to the question, why? Why is Dick Cheney the point man on this? He wasn’t even president at the time, and the guy who was doesn’t talk nearly as much about it.

No, Dick Cheney has a personal stake in all this. Does he worry about a trail of illegality that stops at his door? Does he think there’s no way an investigation that hasn’t even begun yet can be fair to those involved? If the probe is political, what is his response to it?

Former Vice President Dick Cheney
Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Methinks this guy has much to hide, and he’s hiding behind the people at the CIA, the people who tried to do their jobs properly and legally. That is truly sad. Let me say this from the left wing of the Democratic Party. The investigation should go forward. If Cheney refuses to talk to the prosecutor, let the full weight of the law fall on his head. And if it turns out he broke the law, let him be prosecuted!

What’s wrong with that?

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Remembering Ted Kennedy. Will Last Lion have Last Laugh?

My most vivid memory of Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy wasn’t the tumultuous reception he received at last year’s Democratic National Convention in Denver. Although to say he received a hero’s welcome would be the height of understatement. No, my memory goes back three decades earlier.

I was covering a rally to keep a hospital in Harlem open. It was 1977, and New York City was still trying to cope with a mammoth budget gap. Cops and teachers were being laid off, and a place called Sydenham Hospital was scheduled for closure. Normally, this was the kind of issue that attracted local politicians and health activists. But as I walked toward the hospital, I sensed something different. The crowd was larger than normal for a hot summer day. It was also louder.

I asked someone what brought all these people out, and she turned and said, “Haven’t you heard? Teddy Kennedy is here!” Those words alone were magic. There was always something about the relationship between black America and this family that was a close to royalty as you’d find in this country.

The Kennedys
The Kennedys

After all, it was Bobby Kennedy who walked the streets of Bedford Stuyvesant back in the late ’60s, and from that walk, Bed Stuy Restoration was born.

Bob Kennedy in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn
Bob Kennedy in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn

And here was his kid brother, walking to the podium on the back of a flatbed truck. Ted Kennedy unleashed a torrent of words that day. I wish I still had the tape of his remarks.

I do remember he was one of the earliest politicians to link shortened black longevity to a lack of affordable healthcare. “We are going to fight to keep this hospital open”, he thundered, and the crowd believed his every word.

Years later, Sydenham is a health clinic, not a full blown hospital. But were it not for Ted Kennedy and the people of Harlem who fought that battle back in ’77, Sydenham would be little more than a memory.

And now, the Lion of the Senate has left us, left us to fight his last battle. That would be the battle for healthcare for all Americans. Unlike so many others, Ted Kennedy believed that poor and working people ought to have access to the same quality of care he had.

In the end, that’s what made him different, different 30 years ago, and different until the day he died. Ted Kennedy believed part of being American was wanting the best for all Americans. And so his passing should steel the resolve of those who believe the battle for affordable healthcare is a battle that must be won.

You tell me . Will healthcare reform be a part of Ted Kennedy’s legacy?

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RIP Senator Edward Kennedy

As I race to a meeting in New York City, I join millions of people in America and around the world in sadness at the loss of Ted Kennedy — an icon and a great leader in all things progressive.

Please post your comments. I’ll be back tomorrow with insights and memories of this great Kennedy legend.

President Barack Obama and Senator Ted Kennedy
President Barack Obama and Senator Ted Kennedy

Peace.

Mark

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