Matthews Demands: How Do We Prosecute Bush and Cheney?

An overly eager Chris Matthews, on Wednesday night's "Hardball," actually raised the prospect of prosecuting George W. Bush and Dick Cheney over the CIA interrogation memos as he pressed Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz: "But how do we do it? Under what law do we go after them?" To which even the liberal Schultz initially balked, as she tried to rein in Matthews: "Well I think we need not to get ahead of ourselves Chris." However Schultz, after Matthews continued to push, relented and gave the MSNBC host a response more to his liking as she warned: "There is no one that is above the law in the United States of America."

Of course if Matthews really wanted to pursue all of those who approved of waterboarding that list would also have to include House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. According to a December 9, 2007 Washington Post story Pelosi along with other Democrats, in September 2002, were given "a virtual tour" of the "CIA's overseas detention sites," shown interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, "But on that day, no objections were raised."

The following exchange was aired on the April 22 edition of "Hardball":

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Well if it turns out that those who drew the lines and said it was okay to use waterboarding and other coercive techniques, violated the law, and those people who did so include the Vice President and the President what do we do? You say we might consider prosecuting them. But how do we do it? Under what law do we go after them? Under international law? Under U.S. law what do we hit ‘em for? If we do it?

REP. DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: Well I think we need not to get ahead of ourselves Chris. I think we need to make sure that we are examining where, certainly the buck tops with the President and the Vice President. But did they, the question is did they specifically issue those orders or were they more general? I mean I think we're, we're, we're getting a little ahead of ourselves before we start talking about prosecuting the President and the Vice President. But we certainly need to examine who, and how and why the individuals in the Department of Justice ordered CIA interrogators to torture detainees that, that were detained after, after, after 9/11.

MATTHEWS: But in principle you have no problem with us looking at the whole potential criminality of the behavior of anyone here, in this regard?

SCHULTZ: There is no one that is above the law in the United States of America.

MATTHEWS: Okay thank you very much, U.S. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida.

Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.