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Cheney and Rumsfeld Booed at CPAC

One of the truisms of media reporting is that press accounts almost never match up to my own experience when I’ve attended the event in question. This happened again with the presentation of an award to former Secretary of Defense Don Rumsfeld at CPAC yesterday, which featured a surprise appearance by former Vice President Dick Cheney.

CBS News (“Ron Paul Supporters Heckle Cheney, Rumsfeld at CPAC“):

Most of those preparing for the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington this week anticipated a division over social issues, but the real conflict at the convention today erupted between young libertarians and supporters of the Bush administration.

The annual convention has attracted about 11,000 conservatives to the nation’s capital, many of them young supporters of libertarian icon Ron Paul. They were ready this afternoon to show their opposition to the Bush administration when former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was presented with the conference’s “Defenders of the Constitution” award.

Loud boos resounded through the convention hall as Rumsfeld’s name was announced on stage. The numerous young attendees got up from their seats and filed out of the room in protest.

The commotion only grew when former Vice President Dick Cheney surprised the audience by showing up to honor his longtime friend and White House colleague.

“America is stronger and more secure” because of Rumsfeld’s service, Cheney said, prompting one person to loudly shout, “Where’s bin Laden at!”

Some of the vice president’s supporters shouted, “Shut up!” and started a loud chant of “USA, USA!”

The jeering continued, with some yelling “draft dodger!” at Cheney.

TPM (“Paul Supporters Hijack Cheney-Rumsfeld Reunion (Video)“):

Dick Cheney just popped up here at CPAC to introduce his old pal and Bush administration colleague Donald Rumsfeld. Fans of Ron Paul turned what should have been a friendly moment before an audience of fellow conservatives into a screaming match and protest action that resembled what a Cheney-Rumsfeld hug at the Netroots Nation convention might look like.

Mediaite (“CPAC Civil War: Ron Paul Supporters Scream ‘War Criminal’ At Dick Cheney“)

Things should have been nice and chummy at CPAC an hour ago. Dick Cheney strolled on stage to cheers and the inspirational tune of Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best” and got began to present the “Defender Of The Constitution” award to Donald Rumsfeld. However, as the chants of “USA! USA!” died down, a voice screaming “War criminal!” could be heard. And then, as Cheney continued to talk up his former colleague, a shouting match began between supporters of Ron Paul and the rest of the convention hall.

The Paul supporters eventually walked out in the middle of Rumsfeld’s speech as way of protest.

Here’s my quick take:  Rumsfeld and Cheney were greeted enthusiastically and cheered wildly throughout their appearances and a couple of assholes yelled insults once or twice during their speeches.

Dave Weigel has a more nuanced take:

First, a word about hecklers: It’s awful that they get so much attention. A few bad apples in a room of thousands can create the impression of massive dissent, when it really isn’t there.

That said, boy, was there a lot of heckling when Donald Rumsfeld arrived at CPAC to accept the Defender of the Constitution Award. The ballroom for big events fills up many minutes in advance. In this instance, the people who wanted to hear Rand Paul speak at 3:45 had to arrive around 2:30, and stay there. If they did, they sat through a speech from Donald Trump (a surprise to attendees who weren’t checking the news frequently), and used every possible moment to yell “RON PAUL” at the Donald. When Trump responded to one of the heckles, and said that Paul “can’t win” the presidency, there were loud and righteous boos.

It takes a while to exit the ballroom. This means that hundreds of Paul fans — recognizably younger and sometimes beardier than the median CPAC attendee — are in the room or in lines as Donald Rumsfeld is introduced.

“I am pleased to recognize our chairman, David Keene, to recognize Donald Rumsfeld,” says emcee Ted Cruz.

There are loud boos.

Keene mentions that this is the “Defender of the Constitution Award.” More boos; also, shouts of “RON PAUL! RON PAUL!”

When Rumsfeld takes the stage, the boos keep going, because some anti-war conservatives have stuck around to heckle. When it sees Dick Cheney, the crowd’s din drowns out the boos… for a while. I find a place on the floor next to several activists wearing Ron Paul gear.

CPAC is a huge gathering. For a variety of reasons, it has to be held in DC proper, near a Metro stop. That leaves two choices, neither of them good:  The Omni Shoreham and the nearby Marriott Wardman Park. Neither of them are equipped to handle CPAC, which means it’s nearly impossible to get around the place, it’s next to impossible to grab lunch because the restaurants can’t hold the overflow crowds, and people have to line up hours in advance for popular speakers and there’s still nowhere near enough room to accommodate everyone who wants to go in. And both places are mazes, who compounds the problem because people are wandering all over the place trying to find their venues. It’s just a zoo.

Unlike Weigel, who was on the floor surrounded by Ron Paul supporters, I was above it all on a mezzanine outside the bloggers’ room.  So, I was able to hear not only the speakers but get a good sense of the crowd as a whole rather than just the people nearby.

Were there boos? Sure. Rumsfeld and Cheney are controversial figures and anyone can buy a ticket to CPAC. But the overwhelming response was sheer enthusiasm. They were greeted more warmly than Rand Paul, Rick Santorum, or Donald Trump. Indeed, you can see/hear that for yourself in the TPM video:

Literally one person yelled “War criminal!”  I presumed it was one of the Antiwar.com contingent, which was stronger than at any CPAC I’ve attended, but it might have been a Paul enthusiast.

I get that controversy sells and that the press will highlight outlier events. That’s especially true for things like CPAC, where the speeches are frankly boring boilerplate that the reporters have heard dozens of times before. But the story here is that Rumsfeld and Cheney, two key architects of two unpopular wars and of some very controversial policies surrounding those wars, are wildly popular among young conservatives, not that a couple of people from fringe movements acted out in a crowd of over a thousand people.

Related Posts:

About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    “…a couple of assholes yelled insults once or twice during their speeches”

    Are you reacting simply to style, or the idea of failing to cheer Rummy & Cheney? Are you expressing support and/or admiration for those… gentlemen, or are you just taking issue with heckling as an approach to dissent? I would have thought, based on other things you’ve written, that you have little love for the former VP and SecDef.

    As for those two being wildly popular overall at the event, that’s sad. I can’t say I’m surprised, but it’s a bit depressing nonetheless. I’m reduced to hoping they were cheered simply because those bad libruls don’t like them and, therefore, they must be great (rather than genuine ethusiasm for their leadership).

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  2. James Joyner says:

    Rob,

    I generally oppose heckling on invited guests at events. It’s rude. If there’s a Q&A or other opportunity for exchange, then respectfully make your view known. Otherwise, if you want to offer opposing viewpoints, get your own forum.

    Cheney has been a keynote speaker and lauded guest at CPAC for years. Rummy was getting an award from the association! So, it’s hardly surprising that they were popular.

    By and large, I like and respect Rumsfeld and Cheney despite disagreeing with their policies. I think they were mistaken on some things and made terrible mistakes by focusing on tactics at the expense of strategic goals. Supporting torture was wrong but they did it in very narrow circumstances for reasons I understand even while thinking they were wrong. But I think they were sincerely motivated by their view of the nation’s interest, not personal or political gain.

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  3. ptfe says:

    Well, for about 5 minutes, I respected some of the CPAC goers. But since the people heckling a man who pushed us into a war, authorized unlimited detentions and torture, and shrouded the executive in so much secrecy that federal trials are now a joke are just “a couple of assholes”, CPAC has once again sunk to the bottom. If they’d invited David Duke and he got heckled, would that just be “a couple of assholes” as well?

    Call me again when conservatives abandon their obsession with fixing everybody’s view of history a la Reagan. (Does anybody actually look back fondly on the ’80s? Things were so bad we ended up with Wham! and Haddaway for god’s sake.) I’m waiting for more real conservatives to start calling out the bad shit that happens in their name, denouncing the people involved, and trying to figure out real (read: non-mafioso) solutions to problems. Until then, it’s a two-party state where one side embraces whatever dog’s breakfast of policies is thrown together to placate “social”, “fiscal”, and “defense” factions while the other side frantically clings to the notion that following two steps behind will keep them in power.

    So yeah, don’t knock the hecklers. Cheney deserves a lot worse, and conservatives deserve a lot better.

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  4. [...] probably wasn’t a good idea to follow up a speech by Rand Paul, with the crowd he drew, with the presentation of the “Defender of the Constitution Award” to Donald Rumsfeld, with a special appearance by Dick Cheney. Share and [...]

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  5. EddieInCA says:

    James Joyner wrote:

    “Supporting torture was wrong but they did it in very narrow circumstances for reasons I understand even while thinking they were wrong. But I think they were sincerely motivated by their view of the nation’s interest, not personal or political gain.”

    I nearly spit out my coffee reading this statement.

    Seriously James? These two assholes set this country back 20 years with their “wrong” policies.

    WTF? How can anyone, ANYONE, continue to defend Cheney and Rumsfeld?

    Facts:
    1. We attacked a sovereign nation that had not attacked us, that had no weapons of mass destruction, and had no connection to 9/11 or Islamist Terrorism.
    2. In the process, we weakened that country to the point that their enemy, Iran, has gained untold power in the region to the point that they may soon have an atomic weapon.
    3. They kept the War costs outside the budget, hiding what was a worsening economic situation from the public.

    I could go on and on, but you get the point. I’m shocked you are so cavalier about the destruction these two caused.

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  6. Tlaloc says:

    “I generally oppose heckling on invited guests at events. It’s rude. ”

    True, but then again I tend to think politeness should be reserved for those not guilty of war crimes. People who have the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocents on their hands deserve a lot more than heckling.

    That said, and I know there’s 0 chance of this, wouldn’t it be hilarious if the GOP’s embrace/craven manipulation of the libertarians was the thing that finally got Cheney his well deserved meeting with the hague?

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  7. Tlaloc says:

    “Supporting torture was wrong but they did it in very narrow circumstances for reasons I understand even while thinking they were wrong. But I think they were sincerely motivated by their view of the nation’s interest, not personal or political gain.”

    I don;t tend to think of you as naive but there it is.

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  8. Ben Wolf says:

    “Supporting torture was wrong but they did it in very narrow circumstances for reasons I understand even while thinking they were wrong. But I think they were sincerely motivated by their view of the nation’s interest, not personal or political gain.”

    Yeah, that damned constitution. Always getting in the way, huh? We just have to make sure that when we use it for toilet paper we do so in the “national interest”.

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  9. Rob in CT says:

    James,

    Thank you for the reply. I have misread you in the past, apparently. While I find your views regarding Cheney and Rumsfeld unfortunate (I cannot imagine liking and respecting the architects of the Iraq war, especially here in 2011 with all we now know), I appreciate the clarification.

    Perhaps I’m simply a more irreverant person than you. I’m generally a polite guy and not the heckling sort. That said, given the magnitude of the mistakes and misjudgments (to be, in my opinion, charitable) of those two men, it’s hard for me to conclude that heckling is the LEAST they should be subjected to. The idea of them being honored is just mindboggling to me.

    But then I’m sure Bill Clinton is honored plenty and I have my issues with that guy too. If somebody heckled him b/c of his Administration’s policies in the nationstate formerly known as Yugoslavia, I wouldn’t be perturbed. I’d think he had it coming. I might not do the heckling myself, but that’s a personality thing.

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  10. Axel Edgren says:

    “I generally oppose heckling on invited guests at events. It’s rude.”

    Some people are beyond all tact and considerations, really. I don’t want to make my dissent heard by Rumsfeld or Cheney – I want their evil scoured from the planet at all costs.

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  11. Wayne says:

    My experience with the MSM is they often misrepresent what happens. With such availability of videos and alternative media today, they are being exposed for the liberal hacks that they are.

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  12. James Joyner says:

    Rob:

    I think there’s a distinction between invited guests and random meetings. For example, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to give a talk at NYU some time back. While I despise the man, I condemned the rude treatment he received. I just don’t think it’s appropriate when he’s invited.

    And, yup, I’ve been to an event where a bipartisan organization (that happens to be my employer) gave Bill Clinton an award. He was treated politely and I would have been embarrassed if he hadn’t been.

    Ben:

    I think the Bush Administration pushed the Constitution on some issues and called them out for it. I think they also tortured — not a violation of the Constitution, but of international law to which we’re signatories — and called them out for that.

    All I’m saying is that, while I think what they did was both illegal and in some cases even immoral, I understand why they did it and don’t think their intent was evil. Nor are they the first American regime to flout the law in the name of national security.

    Tlaloc:

    What’s your evidence that their actions were motivated by other than their since beliefs? Certainly, it wasn’t politics: Most of the controversial actions were done quietly and only became known to the public through leaks.

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  13. ptfe says:

    “I think the Bush Administration pushed the Constitution on some issues and called them out for it. I think they also tortured — not a violation of the Constitution, but of international law to which we’re signatories — and called them out for that.”

    Ugh. Really? Amendments 5, 6, and 8. Read. Enjoy. It’s not just a violation of international law, torture is actually prohibited by the Constitution. And I don’t mean some artificial reading of the Constitution where we can debate the wording — the words “cruel and unusual” are in there, and they’re in there specifically to prevent the government from doing this to dissenters.

    And if you want to go the military route, the only other governing document we have is the UCMJ, which states:

    813. ART. 13 PUNISHMENT PROHIBITED BEFORE TRIAL

    No person, while being held for trial, may be subjected to punishment or penalty other than arrest or confinement upon the charges pending against him, nor shall the arrest or confinement imposed upon him be any more rigorous than the circumstances required to insure his presence, but he may be subjected to minor punishment during that period for infractions of discipline.

    Waterboarding clearly was just used to insure someone’s presence.

    Incidentally, part of the problem with the authorization to torture is that the administration used it to gather evidence for things that would support their political objectives. For instance, as documented here, several people were tortured to provide evidence of an al Qaeda-Saddam Hussein link. What relevance would that have on the universe after Saddam is gone? None, except as a politically expedient way to justify an otherwise unjustifiable war. Hell, the Bush Administration spent 5 years holding up statements from tortured detainees and insisting that we were gaining “valuable intelligence”; in almost every case, it turned out we were getting false confessions and bad leads (shocking!) while most of the real intelligence came from standard, non-coercive techniques.

    Congratulations on attempting to justify our collective moral degradation.

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  14. James Joyner says:

    @pfte:

    The Constitution does not apply to actions taken overseas against non-citizens. Al Qaeda suspects aren’t protected by the 4th Amendment.

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  15. ponce says:

    “These two assholes set this country back 20 years with their “wrong” policies. ”

    On he plus side, Cheney and Rumsfeld ended America’s costly and embarrassing career as “The World’s Policeman.”

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  16. ptfe says:

    @JJ: Actually, it does in some cases. c.f. Boumediene v. Bush. The Constitution uses language like “persons in criminal proceedings” and “no person” in some instances (typical 18th century stuff — natural rights and all that), and “citizens” in others. So the US taking a prisoner in, say, Pakistan means that the person is now subject to criminal proceedings law or military justice law (see above). I highly recommend Glenn Greewald’s piece on this.

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  17. ptfe says:

    Also, the issue wasn’t that their stuff was unlawfully sifted through (Amendment 4) [though it's possible that this occurred, it doesn't seem a viable tack], it’s that they were subjected to “cruel and unusual punishment” (as per Amendment 8), given show trials where evidence was hidden from them (Amendment 6), and held without charge (Amendment 5). The only way around these is to use the language of the 5th Amendment to claim that UCMJ is in charge. And then your actions aren’t un-Constitutional, they’re military crimes.

    (And in the previous post, “criminal proceedings law” should read “criminal proceedings restrictions”.)

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  18. Franklin says:

    Keene mentions that this is the “Defender of the Constitution Award.” More boos …

    Shouldn’t there have been laughter?

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  19. Ben Wolf says:

    Article VI states:

    “. . . all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

    The Constitution makes any treaty U.S. law. Unless that’s the part we now consider negotiable.

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  20. Rob in CT says:

    “On he plus side, Cheney and Rumsfeld ended America’s costly and embarrassing career as “The World’s Policeman.”

    You believe this? Or is my sarcasm detector malfunctioning?

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  21. James Joyner says:

    @ptfe: Right. That’s what I meant by “actions taken overseas against non-citizens.” And, as you and Greenwald note, Gitmo was narrowly ruled to constitute American territory after the fact.

    @Ben: I agree that treaties that we sign are American law. Indeed, they’re higher than statutory law. I’m just making the narrow, technical point that treaty agreements aren’t Constitutional protections.

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  22. ponce says:

    “You believe this? Or is my sarcasm detector malfunctioning?”

    Nope, No sarcasm.

    Having lived through the Vietnam War and its aftermath I think it’s safe to say America won’t get into another medium or large scale war for at least another 20 years thanks to Iraq and Afghanistan.

    And by then China will be the one policing the world (or at least Asia and Africa).

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  23. Ben Wolf says:

    Thanks to the wording of Article VI, violating out treaty obligations is prohibited by the Constitution itself. Ignoring those treaties means explicitly disobeying a constitutional imperative.

    Why won’t you just come out and say you don’t find these sorts of abrogations a problem?

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  24. James Joyner says:

    Ben:

    I do find them to be a problem. I call them out repeatedly. I just also recognize that the pressures on presidents and their chief national security people, especially during time of war, are extremely high and that they have routinely pushed the envelope on Constitutional, treaty, and statutory requirements throughout our history.

    We grant presidents a hell of a lot of slack if we think they’re motivated by the nation’s interests. Hell, John Adams had the Alien and Sedition Acts. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt did far worse during the world wars. And Abraham Lincoln pretty much suspended the Constitution for the duration of the Civil War. Lincoln is on Mount Rushmore and FDR surely would be if it hadn’t been carved before his presidency.

    Bush and company pushed the envelope. They were rebuffed by the Supreme Court on a few instances and pulled back. The Obama administration has continued several of the more controversial policies that weren’t struck down.

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  25. ptfe says:

    @JJ: Your argument is turning into a duck-and-dodge tactic. You said specifically that you didn’t think what they did was un-Constitutional. The Supreme Court disagrees. That’s the point. I applaud you for calling it out as illegal, and I realize that it’s hard to say a single person has violated the Constitution, but let’s call a spade a spade.

    Meanwhile, you’ve entirely ignored your own argument that torture was apolitical and thus morally justified. Anything further on this front, or should we just give it up now?

    This is what I was talking about in my first post: justifying morally bankrupt behavior in the interests of partisanship. Falling on the sword by parsing words over the part of this discussion that isn’t even critical to your argument lends credibility to the abuses of people like Cheney and Rumsfeld. It’s ok to say, “I disagree with them on this, and I roundly condemn their actions. What they did may have been un-Constitutional, and I find their actions morally repugnant, wholly unjustified, and unjustifiable.” You don’t think they should be heckled because they were invited? Fine. But don’t act like they’ve got a single saintly bone between them. (Like Alex above, I’m not the heckling kind, but someone like Cheney might bring that out in me.)

    I will further point out that your argument that most of the information came from leaks is less favorable to the perpetrators than you apparently want to think: they didn’t even think it was legal or moral or they would have owned up to it! If someone breaks into my house and I shoot him, I don’t bury the body in the back yard, I call the cops and tell them I shot someone, under the assumption that it will be understood the action — while morally questionable — is justified. This goes to the heart of the “ticking timebomb” fatuousness: if someone really thinks there’s a ticking timebomb, they won’t care that what they’re doing is illegal, they’ll just do it. Instead, the Bush Administration authorized something reprehensible at least partly for partisan gain, got caught red-handed, and said, “Well, it’s justified because there might be a ticking timebomb somewhere at some time. Perhaps.” There’s no soap in the world that can wipe off that kind of stank.

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  26. Ben Wolf says:

    James,

    Let me posit a hypothetical scenario. A highly unlikely scenario, but let us assume that such things are possible.

    I’m in Cairo conducting anthropological research. In a conversation with a Muslim fundamentalist, a very young man with more bravado than brains (as most young men are), he brags he will help to drive the United States out of the Middle East, stating that the American people themselves will feel the same pain his people have felt, and they will do so very soon. When I ask for further details, he simply smiles and repeats that this event will occur “soon”.

    Hoping to act in the best interests of my country, I inform a policeman of the situation. Within an hour I am being questioned by the Mukhabarat, who insist I go with them to identify this man. I comply, and both I and the man in question are taken to a building which is located god knows where. Both of us are escorted downstairs into the basement, where the suspect is strapped to a chair.

    I ask if I can leave, but instead of answering a Mukhabarat officer thrusts a cattle prod into my hand and insists that I begin the questionning. I refuse, telling him that this is his job, not mine. He smiles, and informs me that unless I cooperate they will be forced to let the suspect go. Why? For this scenario the reasons aren’t really relevant.

    I, confronted with the choice of torturing this man or allowing him to potentially make good on his threat toward my country, subject him to intense pain. Over and over I send electricity flowing through his body, the officers telling me where to best apply the current to his body. I hate making this man suffer, but I am convinced that doing so is for the greater good.

    After hours of torture, his skin suffering numerous electrical burns, his muscles involuntarily twitching from the nerve damage I have inflicted, he begs to tell us everything he knows. An officer escorts me upstairs, where a car is waiting to take me back to my hotel.

    Months pass. I have returned to the United States and tried to put this incident behind me, knowing what was done was for my country, not for my own personal gain. One morning I awake, opening my browser to OTB, where I read that documents released by Wikileaks have implicated an American citizen in the brutal torture of an Egyptian man. The documents were obtained from a server in the Egyptian Ministry of Security, and reveal the Mukhabarat had concluded the man had no useful information, and, blaming the United States for much of the misery inflicted on his country had simply tried to frighten the American he spoke with.

    The name of the American who participated in his torture is redacted from the publicly released documents, but the story notes the original were shared with th Department of Justice, which has announced it will launch an investigation.

    I was well aware of both international and domestic U.S. laws prohibiting my actions, but I chose to take those actions regardless. I was and still am convinced what I did was for the best, and that I should be regarded as a patriot rather than a criminal.

    Should I be prosecuted?

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  27. James Joyner says:

    @pfte: I’m arguing that motivations matter when you’re judging a man’s character — and that protecting the American people from a legitimate enemy is a pretty good motivation. I just happen to think that, in addition to possibly being illegal and probably immoral, their actions didn’t actually advance the cause of our safety.

    @Ben: That’s a pretty convoluted example. But, if I’m following the twists and turns correctly, no.

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  28. ptfe says:

    Motivations do matter, which is why I think Cheney and Rumsfeld are about as bereft of moral character as anybody out there. There’s clear evidence that their “protecting the American people from a legitimate enemy” line is, to put it mildly, BS. I don’t respect people who think they’re above everybody else’s rules, I don’t respect people who try to advance themselves at the expense of others, and I don’t respect bullies. I’ll let you do the math on how much respect these two deserve by those metrics.

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  29. Brummagem Joe says:

    Having seen the video I’d say you’re talking out of your hat Jim. I’d say about 25% of the audience were booing them. The fact you feel it necessary to be this defensive says it all.

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  30. Pete says:

    Hey Ponce, did you serve during Viet Nam?

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  31. Ben Wolf says:

    “Ben: That’s a pretty convoluted example. But, if I’m following the twists and turns correctly, no.”

    1) We have handed numerous suspects over for torture to our allies, a violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture.

    2) American citizens were present at and participated in a number of these incidents.

    3) Most of those handed over and tortured were, we now know, innocent (the ones that are still alive, of course.)

    4) The law grants no exceptions for those breaking it so long as their intent was to serve the greater good.

    5) We have been largely dependent on whistleblowers for learning about any of this.

    At least you are consistent. “In time of war the law falls silent.”

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  32. Tlaloc says:

    “What’s your evidence that their actions were motivated by other than their since beliefs? ”

    The fact that there was so much counter evidence to pretty much everything they said in public. They knew…KNEW…beyond a shadow of a doubt that their reasons for invading iraq were entirely contrived. They made up a series of bullshit lies and fed them to the media but their own internal intelligence as well as what out allies were saying said that Iraq had nothing even remotely resembling nuclear weapons (to say nothing of the huge lie of equating Iraq with 9/11). There was a clearly calculated effort to create a fabrication, not to mention the persecution of those who wouldn’t go along and the suppression of the facts.

    It’s not possible to sincerely believe the thing you know is false because your the one who made it up in the first place.

    “Certainly, it wasn’t politics: Most of the controversial actions were done quietly and only became known to the public through leaks.”

    How does that make any sense? It can’t be politics because they tried to get away with it? Of course it can. The neocons have wanted to knock off Hussein ever since he stopped being their pal/pawn. They’re also big fans to the stupid realpolitik BS that’s blown up in our faces time and time again (Iran, Iraq, Nicaragua, Afghanistan, Vietnam, and just now Egypt). SO they set about taking out one dictator and playing god at creating another (remember how hard they pushed to get the government they wanted in Baghdad, how they fought against democracy and a popular vote?). Of course they did this stuff on the sly, and of course it was political. Playing war hero is a political move. Playing at gunboat diplomacy is a political move. Instigating what was completely obviously a religious crusade was political.

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  33. anjin-san says:

    > Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to give a talk at NYU some time back. While I despise the man,

    What has he done that Cheney is not guilty of? Oh, when we torture, it is good torture?

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  34. anjin-san says:

    James, HTF do you reconcile these two statements?

    > By and large, I like and respect Rumsfeld and Cheney

    >I just happen to think that, in addition to possibly being illegal and probably immoral, their actions didn’t actually advance the cause of our safety.

    So, they are probably (many would say certainly) depraved criminals, and the justification they gave for their crimes is BS. But they are swell guys, really.

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  35. anjin-san says:

    > Hell, John Adams had the Alien and Sedition Acts. Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt did far worse during the world wars. And Abraham Lincoln pretty much suspended the Constitution for the duration of the Civil War.

    But what do we know about these men? I have not really studied Wilson, but certainly Adams, Lincoln & FDR were men of very high character, perhaps even giants. Cheney, on the other hand, is simply a robber baron born in the wrong century. For a Lincoln, suspending Constitutional rights and employing violence is an act of desperation. For Cheney, it’s simply a screwdriver in his tool kit. Let us not forget his answer when told a large majority of Americans thought the Iraq war was not worth it. “So?”

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  36. [...] chagrin rather than anger. This is of a piece with yesterday’s post in which I assert that I like and respect Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld, even though I think they ordered or fostered some policies which were probably illegal, possibly [...]

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  37. TG Chicago says:

    “The Constitution does not apply to actions taken overseas against non-citizens. Al Qaeda suspects aren’t protected by the 4th Amendment.”

    José Padilla is an American citizen who was treated cruelly, unusually, and unconstitutionally on American soil.

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  38. James Joyner says:

    @TG: Yup. And SCOTUS ruled correctly on that one.

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  39. TG Chicago says:

    They dismissed the case on technical grounds. There was no decision about the constitutionality of the treatment he received. If the discussion is whether the War on Terror policies are unconstitutional, then the SCOTUS’ decision is not helpful to either side of the debate.

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  40. [...] Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney got booed by a small group of rabid anti-war Ron Paulites. See Here. It’s interesting to see how people react to that story. Some conservatives want to play it up [...]

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