Amnesty Activists Surprise Cheney at His 'Today Show' Appearance

Closing shot after Cheney's Today Show interview

By Stephanie Velasco, Field Organizing Assistant for the Northeast Region

(New York, 8/30/11) I feel a bit like I’m wading through a dream world today. Maybe it’s because I—like several others who accompanied me at the Today Show—have been awake since around 3am. Or maybe it’s because I really am drifting into my own dream world where the idea of accountability for torture seems like an utterly simple task. After all, people are tweeting and blogging about it, so a concrete resolution must be soon to follow, right? Somebody pinch me, please.

Unfortunately, here’s the pinch (or the “kick” for all you Inception-ites out there): Former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President George W. Bush have both stated that they endorsed the use of waterboarding as an “enhanced interrogation technique”. They have both openly admitted to authorizing these practices, and yet neither one of them has been brought to a court room for committing these crimes.

And as with any worthwhile dream, there’s another layer: When I stood at the Today Show and held up my sign, I was soon approached by a brusque NBC staff person. The other activists’ signs were snatched out of view (caught on camera), and we were ordered—in no uncertain terms—to leave the premises. While we weren’t expecting a warm welcome from the Today Show, we certainly didn’t anticipate such an abrasive reception. The truth of the matter is, the Today Show people were just doing their jobs. It’s the brash animosity from Cheney supporters online that has been most unnerving.


As the adrenaline high from being on television starts to wear off, I look back at what was really accomplished that morning. Yes, it’s great that Amnesty’s message of accountability for torture was spread to a national audience. And yes, I’m thrilled that the buzz around Cheney’s involvement in war crimes continues to build. There’s no doubt I’ll go to sleep tonight feeling like I helped the good guys chalk up a victory.

But when we wake up, we’ll all still face the same dark reality that injustice is not just a shadow cowering on the edges. In fact it is the proud, unapologetic tenors of men like Cheney that strengthen and embolden the bogeyman of impunity. Unless we keep up our momentum and ensure the elevated voices are the ones for justice, we could face a new nightmarish reality in which torture is legitimized and even commended.

So for today, thank you to everyone who helped speak out against torture. It’s not every day that we get a chance like this to make our voices heard. We’ve got our work cut out for us tomorrow.

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14 thoughts on “Amnesty Activists Surprise Cheney at His 'Today Show' Appearance

  1. Dear Stephanie,

    Yes, war crimes committed on behalf ot the USA is a dark reality and Cheney stand on torture strengthed impunity.
    Yet, there still are american citizen and AI activists to awake at 3am and face hostility in order to spread Amnesty’s message of accountability for torture.
    You did good today. You shined a light for human rights on national television.
    Now, let us doing our part and spread the message worldwide.

    Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of State, torture is a crime everywhere, anytime for any reason. Don't forget it, because we won't.

    A fellow activist from Paris, France

  2. Dear Stephanie,

    Yes, war crimes committed on behalf ot the USA is a dark reality and Cheney stand on torture strengthed impunity.
    Yet, there still are american citizen and AI activists to awake at 3am and face hostility in order to spread Amnesty’s message of accountability for torture.
    You did good today. You shined a light for human rights on national television.
    Now, let us doing our part and spread the message worldwide.

    Ladies and Gentlemen Heads of State, torture is a crime everywhere, anytime for any reason. Don’t forget it, because we won’t.

    A fellow activist from Paris, France

  3. I was watching the Today Show and saw what happened; I didn't know what it was about at the time and I happened to catch some of Cheney's interview. The way he dodged the questions about whether what we did was torture and whether it was "OK" made me sick. I'm glad that AI is working to remind the world that torture is never OK.

  4. I was watching the Today Show and saw what happened; I didn’t know what it was about at the time and I happened to catch some of Cheney’s interview. The way he dodged the questions about whether what we did was torture and whether it was “OK” made me sick. I’m glad that AI is working to remind the world that torture is never OK.

  5. I am glad that AI got a few words/protest signs within camera view. too bad that NBC didn't let AI have their say fully. Shame on you Today show!!! I guess you don't allow non orchestrated real life thought processes into your show.

  6. I am glad that AI got a few words/protest signs within camera view. too bad that NBC didn’t let AI have their say fully. Shame on you Today show!!! I guess you don’t allow non orchestrated real life thought processes into your show.

  7. Cheney and his war-contractor buddies must have missed the Trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. His total lack of remorse speaks volumes about his true character (or lack thereof).

    Studies show that no valid information ever came from anyone that Bush/Cheney tortured, but Cheney still gets a visible thrill from being able to abuse people at will and get away with it.

    Henry Kissinger should be next (see the film documentary, "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" for some very explicit evidence and details on his deliberate genocide and assassinations). Kissinger was responsible for bringing the murderous Salvador Allende to power in Chile, and had a hand in enabling the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot to ravage genocide in Cambodia. Kissinger advised even the mild Gerald Ford how to support a civilian genocide using advanced U.S. arms in East Timor while claiming ignorance.

    As for George Bush, it seems possible he was just a pawn; maneuvered and conned by people far sharper than him; a hopeless wanna-be who wanted to be accepted by the cool kids. For the rest of his life, I expect he'll be nothing more than a footnote.

  8. Cheney and his war-contractor buddies must have missed the Trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. His total lack of remorse speaks volumes about his true character (or lack thereof).

    Studies show that no valid information ever came from anyone that Bush/Cheney tortured, but Cheney still gets a visible thrill from being able to abuse people at will and get away with it.

    Henry Kissinger should be next (see the film documentary, "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" for some very explicit evidence and details on his deliberate genocide and assassinations). Kissinger was responsible for bringing the murderous Salvador Allende to power in Chile, and had a hand in enabling the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot to ravage genocide in Cambodia. Kissinger advised even the mild Gerald Ford how to support a civilian genocide using advanced U.S. arms in East Timor while claiming ignorance.

    As for George Bush, it seems possible he was just a pawn; maneuvered and conned by people far sharper than him; a hopeless wanna-be who wanted to be accepted by the cool kids. For the rest of his life, I expect he'll be nothing more than a footnote.

  9. Cheney and his war-contractor buddies must have missed the Trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. His total lack of remorse speaks volumes about his true character (or lack thereof).

    Studies show that no valid information ever came from anyone that Bush/Cheney tortured, but Cheney still gets a visible thrill from being able to abuse people at will and get away with it.

    Henry Kissinger should be next (see the film documentary, "The Trials of Henry Kissinger" for some very explicit evidence and details on his deliberate genocide and assassinations). Kissinger was responsible for bringing the murderous Salvador Allende to power in Chile, and had a hand in enabling the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot to ravage genocide in Cambodia. Kissinger advised even the mild Gerald Ford how to support a civilian genocide using advanced U.S. arms in East Timor while claiming ignorance.

    As for George Bush, it seems possible he was just a pawn; maneuvered and conned by people far sharper than him; a hopeless wanna-be who wanted to be accepted by the cool kids. For the rest of his life, I expect he'll be nothing more than a footnote.

  10. Cheney and his war-contractor buddies must have missed the Trial of the Major War Criminals at Nuremberg. His total lack of remorse speaks volumes about his true character (or lack thereof).

    Studies show that no valid information ever came from anyone that Bush/Cheney tortured, but Cheney still gets a visible thrill from being able to abuse people at will and get away with it.

    Henry Kissinger should be next (see the film documentary, “The Trials of Henry Kissinger” for some very explicit evidence and details on his deliberate genocide and assassinations). Kissinger was responsible for bringing the murderous Salvador Allende to power in Chile, and had a hand in enabling the Khmer Rouge and Pol Pot to ravage genocide in Cambodia. Kissinger advised even the mild Gerald Ford how to support a civilian genocide using advanced U.S. arms in East Timor while claiming ignorance.

    As for George Bush, it seems possible he was just a pawn; maneuvered and conned by people far sharper than him; a hopeless wanna-be who wanted to be accepted by the cool kids. For the rest of his life, I expect he’ll be nothing more than a footnote.