More than two dozen students protested a talk by former Vice President Dick Cheney at American University, and a handful of them called him a “war criminal” as they stormed out.
A video from the March 27 event shows students walking out on Cheney, and one can be heard yelling, “Walk out on war criminals.” The speech was hosted by The Kennedy Political Union. The school’s newspaper, The Eagle, reported that Cheney denied that his actions while in office amounted to war crimes.
Cheney was one of the most vocal supporters of the George W. Bush administration policies after September 11, including waterboarding, placing detainees in stress positions, and other practices that are sometimes referred to as “enhanced interrogation” tactics.
“Some people called it torture. It wasn’t torture,” Cheney told ATV, a student-run television station. He argued that because the 1949 Geneva Convention, which prohibits cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment, does not apply to those deemed unlawful combatants, men deemed terrorists by the U.S. could be waterboarded legally.
Cheney also said that only three people were waterboarded during his tenure as Vice President, although reports by human rights groups have alleged the practice was much more widespread.
Cheney went on to say that he would not hesitate to use the same methods. “If I would have to do it all over again, I would,” Cheney said. “The results speak for themselves.”
According to a lengthy Associated Press report on the use of torture as a tool in the Bush administration’s pursuit of terrorists, waterboarding and other harsh techniques did not lead to the collection of any important evidence in the search for Osama bin Laden.