Back in October 2012 when cyclist Lance Armstrong was dominating headlines in the sport world as the truth came out about his doping allegations, he unwittingly revealed his with a confession of sorts well in advance of the famous Oprah Winfrey interview where he technically admitted his guilt in using all kinds of performance enhancing drugs and techniques. This is what he said and what I wrote about it then:
“I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours. We all raced together. For three weeks over the same roads, the same mountains, and against all the weather and elements that we had to confront. There were no shortcuts, there was no special treatment. The same courses, the same rules. The toughest event in the world where the strongest man wins. Nobody can ever change that.”
Admirable in its forceful defense of his victories, Armstrong’s statement still stops short of saying he was truly innocent of doping. And that, in the context of all the evidence now emerging in full context of teammates confessing and accepting bans and possible other punishments for their sins, amounts to a confession by Armstrong as well.
I was reminded of Armstrong’s between-the-lines confession while listening to yet another forceful personality in the news. Dick Cheney recently appeared on Meet the Press and was interviewed by Chuck Todd. Cheney has repeatedly denied that he presided over a policy of using torture to extract information from detainees. So Todd asked him exactly how Cheney would define torture. This is what he said…
“Well torture to me, Chuck, is uh, an American citizen, um, on his cell phone making a last call to his four young daughters shortly before he burns to death in the upper levels of the trade center in New York City on 9/11.”
Follow the pattern of that statement and you actually find that the most tortuous aspect of everything that happened leading up to and following the 9/11 tragedy is what tortures Dick Cheney. His statement is nothing less than an admission of guilt that he is tortured by the thought of all those people dying under his watch. And by implication that means he is guilty about not having read the clear signs that something bad was about to happen. Not even the clear intelligence and directives of his immediate advisors on terrorism including including Richard Clarke, former counterterrorism chief could get the attention of a Bush and Cheney White House focused on their own agenda for invasions of Iraq and a takeover in the Middle East.
Cheney denies all such warnings ever happened. But we are forced to consider whether that is true or whether he simply refused to hear them. From a man who refuses to acknowledge that waterboarding and beating and freezing people to death is torture, his level of honesty and clarity must be called into question.
It’s clear in his definition of torture that Dick Cheney feels enormous guilt for his own selfishly shortsighted behavior and what it caused the nation to experience. Well torture to me, Chuck, is uh, an American citizen…”
He’ll never straight out admit it. That is not Dick Cheney’s style. But he will likely go to the grave with a cloak of bravado covering his angst and guilt. That’s how dark heroes tend to go down.