[Setting: The Supreme Court, Washington DC, September 2009… A large crowd has gathered inside. Jack Nicholson has a courtside seat.]
JUSTICE JOHN ROBERTS: Attorney General Holder, call your witness.
ERIC HOLDER: Prosecution calls former Vice President, Dick Cheney.
DICK CHENEY is escorted in, scowling.
ROBERTS: Mr. Cheney, do you solemnly swear that your testimony will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
CHENEY: God can’t help me now. [crowd titters]
ROBERTS: Mr. Cheney?
CHENEY: I do.
ROBERTS: Please be seated.
CHENEY sits. HOLDER stands, and holds up a document from his desk.
HOLDER: Mr. Cheney, in the spring of 2002, did you sign off on a CIA memo authorizing harsher interrogation techniques?
CHENEY: I did.
HOLDER: Can you please give your rationale as to why these techniques were necessary?
CHENEY: I, along with many senior ranking officials in the Bush administration, felt that the country was in danger.
HOLDER: Grave danger?
CHENEY: Is there another kind?
HOLDER holds up a photograph of Abu Zubaydah.
HOLDER: Do you recognize this man?
CHENEY: That is Abu Zubaydah, an Al Qaeda operative whom we apprehended in Pakistan in March 2002.
HOLDER: FBI agent Ali Soufan has testified that CIA interrogators tortured Zubaydah. Torture methods included nudity, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding.
CHENEY [shrugs]: So?
HOLDER: These interrogation techniques are all illegal in the United States.
CHENEY: Not when I made up the law.
HOLDER: Why did you allow the CIA to use these torture techniques on Zubaydah?
CHENEY takes a sip of water, then glares at HOLDER.
CHENEY: Son, we live in a world that has walls. And those walls have to be guarded by men with guns. Who’s going to do it? You? Me? I dodged Vietnam five times, so it’s sure as hell not going to be me. But even though I have no military experience, I had a greater responsibility than you can possibly fathom. You weep for torture victims and you curse the American interrogators. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know: that torture, while tragic, probably saves lives. And waterboarding, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives–
HOLDER [interjects]: Mr. Cheney, can you give a specific example on how lives were saved?
CHENEY [caught off-guard]: Well… Zubaydah confessed to a number of Al Qaeda plots.
HOLDER: Have any of these plots been substantiated? Did you ever consider that Zubaydah may have lied under interrogation to avoid more torture? That his intel was faulty, at best?
CHENEY: What does it matter?
HOLDER: It matters because you were torturing this guy, and I want answers!
CHENEY: You want answers?
HOLDER: I think I’m entitled.
CHENEY [getting angry]: You want answers??
HOLDER: I want the truth!
CHENEY: You can’t handle the truth!
JACK NICHOLSON: Snap!
CHENEY pounds his fist on the ledge. His face is red.
CHENEY: You can’t handle the truth, because deep down, in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that wall. You need me on that wall… Well, maybe not me, but someone else that I hire to stand on the wall. You need him. And I have neither the time, nor the inclination, to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom my guy provides, and then questions the manner in which he provides it.
HOLDER holds up a copy of 24 on DVD.
HOLDER: Mr. Cheney, did you, or did you not, approve of torture based on an episode of 24?
CHENEY: I did the job I was sent to do.
HOLDER [voice rising]: Did you, or did you not, approve of torture because you saw Jack Bauer do it?
CHENEY: Oh by the way, I don’t give a damn what you’re entitled to. I forgot to say that.
HOLDER: Jack Bauer —
CHENEY: You’re goddamn right I did!
The crowd gasps. Justice John Roberts faints. Jack Nicholson gives a standing ovation.
HOLDER: Oh, shit.