Wednesday, January 14, 2015



By Ronald Fox 

Sociopath: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience.  
Prompted by former Vice-President Dick Chaney’s ludicrous claim that President Obama was responsible for the rise of ISIS and the general chaos in the Middle East, among other things, I previously posted an essay on the Veep in which I attempted to set the record straight. In trying to understand Cheney’s unfounded claims, I considered whether he had amnesia, was a hypocrite, ideological delusionalist, or just a shameless liar. After much thought, I concluded he was a dangerous delusional ideologue. (See Dick Cheney is a Dangerous Delusional Ideologue). Cheney’s response to the multitude of horrors spelled out in the Senate Report on Torture leads me to amend my conclusion: Dick Cheney is a sociopath. 
Of course I expected Cheney to blast the report and defend the interrogation techniques used during the Bush years, but his coldly dismissive response to the litany of horrors the Bushies visited upon suspected terrorists cast his immoral evilness in a new light. The report documents such “enhanced interrogation” techniques as water-boarding, sleep deprivation (for as long as 180 hours), day-long hangings in shackles from the ceiling and being shackled naked on the floor, beatings, freezing, and rectal feeding. These obvious violations of international law on the use of torture and cruel and unusual punishment were commitment in the name of the United States. They have brought dishonor on our country.
To Cheney, these atrocities did not amount to torture. They were simply morally justifiable tactics in the war on terror. That they yielded no important information, as the report concluded (and even John McCain agrees), was no matter. He “would do it again in a minute.” It was clear revenge, not the garnering of valuable information, was on Cheney’s mind when he denied on Meet the Press that Americans use torture. What the terrorists “did to 3000 Americans on 9/11,” he said, justified a maximum infliction of pain and suffering on bad guys. As Jonathan Chait in noted, “under the brutal logic of Cheneyism,” it’s torture only if bad guys do it, and “officially sanctioned forms of torture are not torture because they are officially sanctioned.” A classic Catch-22; Joseph Heller would be proud.
As to the sanctioning of our use of torture, records show that Cheney was the leading advocate when the “enhanced interrogation” program was discussed. President Bush was apparently left in the dark about the program until after it had been implemented. He reportedly “expressed discomfort” with the techniques used. It appears the use of torture was a largely Cheney-driven idea that the CIA took to with a notable relish. 
I believe it’s fair to say that a lion’s share of blame for most of the evils Washington has been involved in over the last two decades—the phony WMD case, two costly wars, our gross violations of human rights, excessive government secrecy, spying on American citizens, the rise of ISIS and other extremist jihadists, and the steady stream of lies, deceit and hypocrisy emanating from the White House—rests with Dick Chaney. He may blame President Obama, but history knows better.
For media outlets to allow him space to spit out his self-serving venom without asking tough questions or at least putting his words in historical context speaks volumes about the state of mainstream media today. How about interviews with a few of the dozens of innocent Muslims who were tortured? Of course not, skeletons are best left buried. Wouldn’t be patriotic; right-wing vigilantes might raise a stink. 


Rarely in the course of human history has one person been responsible for so much suffering—to individuals as well as our national honor- and paid no price; on the contrary, his council continues to be sought on matters of national importance. Instead of giving audience to Cheney’s drivel, someone should subject him to a little rectal feeding. I’d be the first to volunteer.
NOTE: I felt the need to vent in this post. For a more sober analysis of the litany of Cheney falsehoods and self-serving misreading of history regarding the rise of extremist jihadists, see my previous post: Dick Chaney is a Dangerous Delusional Ideologue.


  1. Lynn Routt SwansonJanuary 15, 2015 at 9:59 AM

    Very nice piece, Ron. Cheney will never pay the appropriate price for his evil influence in our government. What an embarrassment! He is an ugly savage. On a last night, while you might be the first to volunteer to feed Cheney rectally, you just don't have it in you to undertake such a process. Thanks for the article.

  2. I don't know, Cheney is just too easy a target. It would be pretty to lay so much blame on one man, but my suspicion is that we are all culpable to a greater or lesser extent -- depending on how much we have drunk the Koolaid of American exceptionalism and or arrogance. It's just another variation of the earlier British 'white man's burden". (Perfidious Albion to the French.) Acheson, Reagan, Kissinger, Cheney, Clinton, Bush, Obama -- all have played a role in the US vainly trying to shape the world to suit it, and the inclination to do so has only increased in a post-Cold War world. We could use a little Realpolitik. Where's Hans Morgenthau when you need him?

  3. Jim,

    To repeat, a sociopath is: a person with a psychopathic personality whose behavior is antisocial, often criminal, and who lacks a sense of moral responsibility or social conscience. With the possible exception of Kissinger, I don't think the others you named fit the definition. Besides, I don't recall any of them launching a one-man publicity campaign to blame all bad outcomes on a successor. Regarding Realpolitik, I take your point. I used to shun the Realpolitik perspective, but neo-conservatism is making it look better all the time. My how the times have changed.

  4. Ron,
    I did not mean to imply that those I mentioned were either sociopaths or psychopaths. Rather, my point is that you don't have to be either to take amoral or even immoral actions or make policies that lead to those actions in the name of your country. Reinhold Niebuhr spoke of "moral man, and immoral society" to make the point that individuals will do things in the name of the state that they could never contemplate in the personal behavior. A prof of mind recalled a party game in D.C. in the 60s, in which some of the attendees (policy makers, scholars and others) would admit what they might do in the name of their country. The prof said that you would not believe how high up the scale from, say, wire tapping a colleague to dropping THE BOMB participants would go. Of course, that was just a party game, albeit a sick one, I'd say. But it is somewhat revealing given the nature of the place and the group. I doubt that we have improved since the 60s.


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