There were a lot of infuriating moments from the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that took place this weekend here in Washington, DC. Several speakers called for the abolishment of the US Department of Education as well as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Attendees posed questions about Egypt to Ann Coulter, of all people.
But what really got me yelling at the TV were the appearances of former vice president Dick Cheney on Friday and Rep. Allen West (R-FL) on Saturday.
Dick Cheney took the stage to a roar of applause, set to Tina Turner’s “Simply the Best,” which was awkward and downright bewildering in my opinion. The best? Really? *Sigh*…okay, for those of us who don’t remember, Cheney encouraged the torture of suspected terrorists in United States military prisons. He responded to the heckler that yelled out, “War criminal!” when the applause died down, with silence and his usual creepy half-smile. This interruption barely got a yawn out of the audience.
On Saturday, the conference concluded with a speech by Allen West. I will say this: the man is a fantastic speaker. He knows how to grab his audience and give them exactly what they want. He is charismatic. So let’s just make a note of that, because I feel that this freshman in Congress is just getting started with a political career that will no doubt inflict damage, already electrified by populist support around the country.
When Rep. Allen West was Lt. Col. Allen West back in 2003, he commanded the 2nd Battalion of the 20th Field Regiment, based in Taji, Iraq. When he received intelligence about a plot to assassinate him, he ordered the harsh interrogation of Yehiya Kadoori Hamoodi, an Iraqi policeman, who he suspected had information. This interrogation yielded no such information, so Lt. Col. West fired two rounds right next to the man’s head, which qualifies as abuse of a prisoner. The case was dismissed in a military court but West was fined $5,000. I’m not sure how that translates into innocence or guilt, but West has clearly admitted to committing the crime – there’s no dispute there.
In his rousing speech, West defined the “3 pillars of conservativism,” the third of which was the crazy call of the culture warrior. But perhaps this is beyond the scope of this post and I will comment on it in another in more detail.
Make no mistake about it: these men have admitted to committing war crimes, and they are heralded as heroes in this über-conservative community.