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Memo to Dick Cheney: George Washington Ordered Execution As Penalty for Torturing Prisoners

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During a recent interview, former Vice Pres. Dick Cheney proudly assumed responsibility for the U.S. government’s program of torturing prisoners in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. “I’d do it again in a minute,” Cheney asserted.

Cheney is undoubtedly emboldened by the fact that there is no chance that he, the president he served or their minions will ever face justice for ordering the torture of prisoners, actions that were, by even the lowest standards of decency, war crimes.

Cheney and the others will escape justice, largely because the current president chooses to allow it, despite the fact that torture is illegal in this country and worldwide, under provisions of an anti-torture treaty signed by Pres. Ronald Reagan in 1984. There is also precedent for trying officials accused of torture. As was noted earlier, in 1946, the United States and its allies executed Japanese officials who ordered waterboarding of prisoners during World War II.

But the roots of America’s abhorrence to torture go back even farther, all the way to the founding. In fact, during the Revolutionary War, George Washington ordered that soldiers under his command who were found to have tortured prisoners could face execution.

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