Cheney postpones visit amid planned protest, calls for arrest
Just two days before a scheduled visit from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the Miller Center at the University of Virginia announced November 14 that Cheney would be postponing his visit to talk about his new book, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir. Originally, Cheney had been scheduled to visit with his daughter, Liz Cheney, who co-authored the book with her father, but that later became a solo visit from the former VP.
According to Miller Center Director of Communications Kristy Schantz, Cheney postponed the November 16 visit for "personal reasons" and plans to reschedule sometime early next year. Schantz said the last minute cancellation had nothing to do with a planned protest outside the Miller Center, or a request from local anti-war activist David Swanson to local government and police officials that Cheney be arrested for "conspiracy to torture."
"Were a local resident credibly accused of torture, I sincerely doubt you would hesitate to seek his or her immediate arrest and indictment," wrote Swanson in a letter to Mayor Dave Norris and Police Chief Timothy Longo.
Cheney has unapologetically and publicly supported the Bush Administration's use of water-boarding between 2001 and 2009, something many construe to be torture.
Indeed, Miller Center audience members caused a ruckus last year during a visit from University of California law professor John Yoo, the Justice Department lawyer who wrote the infamous "torture memos" that the Bush Administration used to justify water-boarding terrorist suspects, prompting a scolding from the Center's programs director, George Gilliam, accustomed to more staid Miller Center forum events.
In fact, Swanson and several other protesters were hauled away by police during that event. Asked to sit down after being the first to ask Yoo questions, Swanson refused and shouted, "I am not going to sit down in a room with a war criminal." An afternoon protest followed the forum event.
This time, Swanson and company were planning a similar protest, mostly because Miller Center officials had decided not to allow such disruptions during the forum event.
In his letter, Swanson cites the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor and calls on Chief Longo "never to betray" his badge and "always uphold the Constitution" in an attempt to convince him of the logic of arresting Cheney for advocating torture.
Indeed, protesters in Charlottesville appear to have taken a page from Code Pink's playbook. In San Francisco last week, the activist group demanded the same thing of local police when Cheney attended a conference at the Palace Hotel, effectively launching an "Arrest Cheney" movement that seems to be following the former VP around the country. And also to other countries. In September, a Cheney visit to Vancouver to discuss his new book drew 250 protesters and similar demands for his arrest by local officials.
"There is no good excuse I am aware of not to arrest Dick Cheney if he sets foot in Charlottesville," wrote Swanson. "Other towns in the United States have passed ordinances committing to seeking his arrest should he set foot there. Charlottesville should be able to expect no less of its law enforcement officers."Read more on: dick cheney