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Cheney Testifies Before the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

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Chair: Welcome, Mr. Cheney. As you no doubt are aware, the rules of this Truth & Reconciliation Commission, as established by the President and Congress, require that you speak the whole truth here if you want to avoid criminal prosecution. Do you solemnly and willingly take the oath to do so? Please raise your right hand.

Cheney: I do so swear.

Commissioner#1: Very well. Mr. Cheney, when you were engaged in the criminal conspiracy that led to your impeachment and removal as Vice President and your later indictments, were you aware of the illegality of your actions?

Cheney: I did not think they were illegal. The Administration sought the best judicial advice we could get, and were assured that what we were doing was within the law and the Constitution.

Commissioner#1: And where did you obtain this legal advice? Did you query the country's leading conservative and liberal Constitutional and legal scholars? Did you seek out specialists on Supreme Court decisions from outside the Administration?

Cheney: We relied on our expert counsels in the White House, Department of Justice, Pentagon and the like.

Commissioner#1: In other words, you asked employees you had chosen for their jobs -- those whose employment depended on staying in your good favor and who were partisan colleagues -- to evaluate the already-decided policies of their bosses. Is that a fair assessment?

Cheney: They had total freedom to disagree with us. They didn't. We relied on their legal opinions.

Chair: Mr. Cheney, I think you are not fully appreciative of the purpose of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, so I will cut to the nub of the matter: If you want to heighten your chances of staying out of federal prison, you must at this Commission accept your responsibility for the crimes you committed against the Constitution and citizens of the United States, and talk about your role in those crimes and the coverup. If you do not wish to do so, it's best to say so now, so that we can call witnesses who do desire to cooperate and save themselves from criminal prosecution. Do you understand, sir?

Cheney: Yes, Madame Chairman, I apologize to this Commission if I've given the impression that I don't want to fully participate in these proceedings openly and honestly.


Commissioner#2: Then, Mr. Cheney, please provide a chronology indicating how you and your similarly-charged defendants deceived the American people and the Congress and the United Nations in order to take this country into war with Iraq.

Cheney: Your question is like "are you still beating your wife?". We did not lie, we used the best intelligence then available to make our judgements. Some of those judgements turned out to be wrong, but at the time we thought they were correct. I resent your implication that we consciously misled our fellow citizens.

Chair: Mr. Cheney, your attempts to dance around the truth will not be permitted to continue. We possess a documented record of what you did, so do not for a moment think that you can evade your responsibility. As I did to your fellow conspirator ##Donald Rumsfeld when he was before this commission ( http://www.crisispapers.org/essays-w/grilled.htm ), I hereby issue this final warning: You tell the truth to this Commission or you will be summarily frog-marched out of this hearing room. Bailiffs, prepare to remove the witness.

Cheney: Very well, Mr. President. Under the threat of coercion, I will testify openly and fully.

Chair: No. We accept no coerced testimony. I will remind the former Vice President that you petitioned this Commission requesting that you be allowed to testify, as a means of escaping criminal prosecution. If you are feeling coerced, I would urge you to peer into a mirror for a good look at your coercer. The witness will answer the question now pertaining to the chronology of lies and deceptions that resulted in the U.S. attacking Iraq.

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Bernard Weiner, Ph.D. in government & international relations, has taught at universities in California and Washington, worked for two decades as a writer-editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and currently serves as co-editor of The Crisis Papers (more...)
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