Stephen Hayes Busts Some Myths

I’m currently reading Stephen F. Hayes’ Cheney (New York: HarperCollins, 2007), which is based on hours of exclusive interviews. On Saturday night, I read the chapter entitled “Dick Cheney: New Democrat?” That was about the Vice-President’s recent conversion to neo-conservative ideas, specifically the concept that America should spread democracy throughout the world.

What I like about this chapter is that it addresses a number of liberal myths–about the Bush Administration and the War on Terror. Here, I will post some quotes from Hayes and comment when I feel a need to do so.

1. In 2003, columnist Robert Novak revealed that Valerie Plame Wilson was a covert CIA agent. Someone from the White House leaked this to him. For many on the Left, the Bush Administration did so because her husband, Joe, disputed its claims that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger. The Left sees the Bush Administration as sinister and evil. As far as they are concerned, there is no depth of depravity to which Bush and his cronies will not sink.

But, actually, “the leak about Wilson’s wife came not as political payback from the White House, but as gossip from a top State Department official who had shared Wilson’s skepticism about the Iraq War” (478). The name of the leaker is Richard Armitage, who does not strike me as a neocon.

2. According to Hayes, Cheney doesn’t believe that the Geneva Convention protections apply to Al Qaeda. That always struck me as a lame excuse for torture, but Hayes offers a rationale:

“The war on terror, [Cheney and others] maintained, is a different kind of war. Not only do al Qaeda combatants fail to abide by the Geneva Convention themselves, but their primary targets are innocent civilians. According them legal status as prisoners of war, Cheney believed, would provide them with legal protections to which they are not entitled and could restrict U.S. interrogators from using aggressive techniques to extract information. And those interrogations could be crucial to preventing another attack” (479).

Cheney elaborates: “We had, I think, several concerns in the aftermath of 9/11. We had al Qaeda terrorists kill 3,000 Americans that morning. We were concerned about the possibility of follow-on attacks. We still are. We also, as we went into Afghanistan, encountered significant numbers of al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan that were either captured or killed. And the al Qaeda in particular didn’t operate by the rules of conventional warfare. We looked at all of that, and the decision was made that they were not lawful combatants. They didn’t wear uniforms or have badges; they didn’t carry arms out in the open. They did in fact set out to kill civilians; and, by definition, they did not qualify as lawful combatants. Also, as terrorists, they were not represented as any state” (480-481).

So we have terrorists using fly-by-night tactics to kill innocent civilians. Shouldn’t the rules be a little different in such a situation? How else are we supposed to get information about their coming attacks?

3. Remember that National Security Agency program of wiretapping people in America who were talking to Al Qaeda? Well, some prominent Democrats approved of it, until the New York Times revealed its existence to the public (including Al Qaeda). In 2003, Jay Rockefeller and Nancy Pelosi recommended that the NSA continue its program without legislative authorization (489). Wow, so does that mean the Democrats were playing politics after the program was made public? Say it ain’t so!

It’s good to read another perspective every once in a while.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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