Apparently when you’re a washed up has-been ex-Vice President whose involvement in torture while in office is causing people in other countries to call to have you arrested for war crimes, your standards in “danger” get pretty low.
After facing large and rowdy protests in Vancouver last September at a speaking engagement, Dick Cheney announced this week that he will not be attending a booked speaking session in Toronto this coming April, citing safety concerns.
At the Vancouver event, protesters loudly booed the guest’s arrival, scuffled with police and demanded Cheney’s arrest. Protests were spurred when Human Rights Watch urged the Canadian government to investigate the “overwhelming” evidence of Cheney’s involvement in torture during his time in office. They also urged Canada to comply with the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which Canada is a signatory.
Canadian Law expressly provides for arrest and prosecution of an individual for torture and other crimes if the complainant is a Canadian citizen, even for offenses committed outside of Canada. The US government under Bush and Cheney are implied in at least two cases of extraordinary rendition and torture, including the case of Maher Arar, an Ottawa engineer who was rendered to Syria and tortured for a year before his release, and that of Omar Khadr, a former child soldier languishing in Guantanamo Bay.
“After speaking with their security advisers, they changed their mind on coming to the event,” said one of the organizers of the canceled engagement, Ryan Ruppert. However, given the very real legal threat to Cheney’s own freedom, and the fact that George W. Bush himself has canceled speaking engagements in other countries when it became apparent that he could be held accountable for involvement in torture, it’s more likely that Cheney is running scared that his own actions could come back to haunt him in a very real way.
Photo from Gage Skidmore on Flickr.