Dick Cheney says that the ends justify the means. That is what Caligula said; what Hitler said; what Stalin said. Indeed it is what all tyrants have said. It works for them because it sets them above the law they pretend to serve, and/or the God they pretend to love.
The mentality of a man such as Cheney spreads through a culture like plague. This is particularly true when it is sent forth into the Gestalt via the bullhorn of televised media and then regurgitated in the brothel of what was once the United States Congress.
Bit by bit the malevolent symptoms of the plague including, but not limited to, cruelty, violence, abuse and revenge become acceptable. Thus it should surprise no one when a society that will engage in torture will not recoil from killing its own people – especially the vulnerable.
A word, however, to those who think they are safe. Should the definition of scapegoat expand in the blink of an eye – as is the arbitrary and capricious nature of such things – from skin color to eye color, hair color or shoe size; well, good luck with all that.