"Enhanced interrogation techniques," of course, is torture. Under Cheney- and under his putative boss George W. Bush- Americans held hundreds of people imprisoned without either writ of habeas corpus or combatant status under the Geneva Accords- in other words, wholly outside the law. These people were beaten, waterboarded, held in stress positions for days until their muscles collapsed, denied sleep for days, put in total sensory deprivation or disorientation, and threatened with their death and the death of their loved ones, among many other techniques documented. These techniques were used by Imperial Japan, the Gestapo, the Khmer Rouge, and Saddam Hussein, among others- and in all those cases those responsible either were punished or are currently in the process of meeting justice.
Scott Horton, in the above link, makes it very plain:
Section 2340A of the federal criminal code makes it an offense to torture or to conspire to torture. Violators are subject to jail terms or to death in appropriate cases, as where death results from the application of torture techniques. . . What prosecutor can look away when a perpetrator mocks the law itself and revels in his role in violating it? Such cases cry out for prosecution. Dick Cheney wants to be prosecuted. And prosecutors should give him what he wants.
Glenn Greenwald brings home just how important prosecution is- and why it is imperative:
What would stop a future President (or even the current one) from re-authorizing waterboarding and the other Bush/Cheney torture techniques if he decided he wanted to? Given that both the Bush and Obama administrations have succeeded thus far in blocking all judicial adjudications of the legality of these "policies," and given that the torture architects are feted on TV and given major newspaper columns, what impediments exist to prevent their re-implementation?
But earlier in the same article, Greenwald pretty much admits that this is exactly what will happen- as soon as Obama leaves office, torture will resume.
In general, people who commit felonies avoid publicly confessing to having done so, and they especially avoid mocking the authorities who fail to act. One thing Dick Cheney is not is stupid, and yet he's doing exactly that. Indeed, he's gradually escalated his boasting about having done so throughout the year. Why? Because he knows there will never be any repercussions, that he will never be prosecuted no matter how blatantly he admits to these serious crimes. He's taunting the Obama administration and the DOJ: not only will I not hide or apologize, but I will proudly tout and defend my role in these crimes, because I know you will do absolutely nothing about it, even though the Attorney General and the President themselves said that the act to which I'm confessing is a felony. Does anyone doubt that Cheney's assessment is right? And isn't that, rather obviously, a monumental indictment of most everything?
Cheney is taunting Obama- but more to the point, he's saying to his base: Obama knows, in his heart, that I'm right- torture is NOT immoral or illegal, and that's why he'll never, ever prosecute me or anyone else for it. He knows we were right all along, or else he'd do something about what we did. And since torture is right, that means as soon as we regain power, we'll start it up all over again.
If Obama doesn't change his mind about this and begin proper investigations and prosecutions of those who violated American and international laws against torture, then his legacy on the subject will be limited to one immediately-overturned executive order- in other words, completely empty.
He will be remembered as a president who, when faced with evil, did nothing.