Turley: Cheney war crimes probe would be 'shortest in history'
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Tuesday March 24, 2009

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President Barack Obama said all the right things on 60 Minutes, according to Jonathan Turley. But no mere verbal rebuff to the former vice president will see the law upheld.

If Obama would step out of the way and allow prosecutors to look at evidence of alleged Bush administration war crimes, "it would be the shortest investigation in history," Turley said on a Monday episode of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show.

President Obama, appearing Sunday on the CBS news program, said the former vice president's policies on the treatment of prisoners captured in President Bush's terror war are "unsustainable" and had caused "incredible damage to our image and position in the world."

"The reason Obama seems very irritated by it is that he is responsible for the conversation," said Turley, a constitutional scholar and George Washington University professor. "Because he's the one that is blocking a criminal investigation of Vice President Cheney and President Bush and other Bush officials. It is like a bank robber calling up and asking him to debate bank robbery."

It was only Dec. 15 when the former vice president admitted he approved the interrogation tactics which many, including the international Red Cross, have called torture.

Even Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) called Cheney out for his remarks.

"When the Vice President of the United States says that he believes ... waterboarding is 'appropriate,' there is no other conclusion that I can reach other than I know it's a form of torture," said Sen. Levin. "It's been acknowledged as a form of torture I think since the Inquisition."

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was the first top-ranking Bush administration official to admit that discussions on the techniques took place in 2002 and 2003.

"These are not just our values," said Turley. "They are the law.

"[Obama] should be saying, 'What you are describing is a crime.' And if he would allow an investigation to well-defined war crimes, Dick Cheney would not be making public statements. He would be surrounded by criminal defense counsel.

"...Rachel, let's be honest here. It is just as bad to prevent the investigation and prosecution of a war crime as its commission because you become part of it.

"... You know, some people say, what do you need, a film? We actually had films of us torturing people. So this would be the shortest investigation in history. You have Bush officials who have said that we tortured people. We have interrogators who have said we tortured people. The Red Cross has said it. A host of international organizations have said it.

"What is President Obama waiting for? And Im afraid the answer is, a convenient moment."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Mar. 23, 2009.

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