With his memoir, and accompanying media blitz, Dick Cheney is trying to provoke us into once again discussing the merits of torture, a topic “about as compelling as a debate about the efficacy of slavery or Jim Crow laws,” writes Dahlia Lithwick of Slate. Almost everyone agrees torture isn’t effective, ethical, or legal. Except it must be legal, Lithwick writes, because Cheney got away with it.
“If it were truly illegal, he and those who devised the torture regime would have faced legal consequences—somewhere, somehow. That’s the meaning of the ‘rule of law,’” she reasons. “We can go on pretending that torture is no longer permissible in this country,” but until Cheney and company are punished “we will only be pretending.” And that’s the real value of Cheney’s book. It’s an “illustration of the real-life practical value of the law.” Because if we don’t enforce those laws, men like Cheney win.