The First Draft: Now he’s talking!

May 11, 2009

CHENEY/Dan Quayle played golf in Arizona. Al Gore taught journalism in New York. But Dick Cheney is breaking with the tradition that former vice presidents quietly leave Washington and the public eye when they exit the White House. Even Cheney’s ex-boss, George W. Bush, has refrained from criticizing the Obama administration, saying the new team deserves his silence. But Cheney was positively gabby on a Sunday talk show.

While many in official Washington were recovering from Saturday evening’s White House Correspondents Association dinner — where President Barack Obama got off some memorable one-liners and comedian Wanda Sykes took aim at radio talk jock Rush Limbaugh, among others — Cheney gave a lengthy interview to “Face the Nation” on CBS television. The replay of clips from that chat were still reverberating on Monday’s morning shows on CNN, NBC and ABC.

On waterboarding terror suspects, which critics say doesn’t work in getting useful information — aside from it being torture — Cheney disagreed. “Khalid Shaikh Mohammed … an evil, evil man that’s been in our custody since March of ’03 … did not cooperate fully in terms of interrogations until after waterboarding. Once we went through that process, he produced vast quantities of invaluable information about Al Qaeda.”

Any regrets about his time in the White House? “No regrets. I think it was absolutely the right thing to do. I’m convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives.”

What about the detention center at Guantanamo, which Obama has said will be closed within a year? “We had to have a place, a facility, where we could capture these people and hold them until they were no longer a danger to the United States … we released hundreds already of the less threatening types. About 12 percent of them, nonetheless, went back onto the fight as terrorists. The group that’s left, the 245 or so, these are the worst of the worst.”

And what about Cheney’s Republican Party, now dealing with the defection of high-profile Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania? Should it move to the left to broaden its appeal to voters? “We are what we are. We’re Republicans … I think we win elections when we have good solid conservative principles to run upon and base our policies on those principles.”

If he had to choose between Rush Limbaugh and Colin Powell — the former Secretary of State and former head of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff — Cheney said he’d pick Limbaugh.

“Well, if I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh, I think. I think my take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn’t know he was still a Republican.”

Does any of this matter? After all, Cheney is no longer in government. You tell us: should Cheney continue to speak out or does he owe the Obama administration his silence in its early months?

Photo credit: REUTERS/Mitch Dumke (file photo of former Vice President Dick Cheney, October 15, 2008, Washington DC)


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Bill Clinton wasn’t quiet after he left the White House. So, why should a former vice president be quiet? There is no good reason. He is providing a valuable service and speaking the truth about the lives saved because of terrorists talking. Only the negative aspects are being reported as is typical of the media.

Oh sure, the naysayers are out to demonize the former administration. So go ahead, but be glad you are alive to criticize. For the time being, it is still a free country.

As for the false question about choosing Colin or Limbaugh. What a laugh. The media really loads the question to appear a negative. The majority of this country is still right of center. There were some wayward and lost souls who will find their way back once they realize the mistake they made helping elect a group of people who are working hard to take our freedoms away.

Conservative traditional values are what this nation was founded upon. To fall from this would only lead to our demise.

Posted by TC | Report as abusive

Other than shock value, I’m not quite sure why we should care what Citizen Cheney has to say anymore. I suspect some think he will reveal something about the former adminstration that we don’t already know or suspect. Not a chance of that happening.

Frankly, his comments are extremely predictable. He is becoming a political celebrity, equivalent to Paris or Lindsey. It would be best for the political discourse in the U.S. if we would ingnore the former VEEP and all the other out-of-power polarizers who are much more interested in regaining personal power than in helping the country in our current straits.

Posted by Dr Bob | Report as abusive

Dick Cheney speaks the truth. He has nothing to gain by being soft on anyone.

Politicians have to shape what they say to please people.
Dick Cheney is no longer a politician.

Everyone should say what they want. Political correctness be damned. After-all this is the U.S.A..

Posted by Matt Parfitt | Report as abusive

The dictatorship of Dick Cheney is over and that’s his only regret. His chickenhawk to the bone.
The only time he should be allowed to speak is at his war crimes trial at the Hauge.

Posted by Shago | Report as abusive

I didn’t realize Al Gore had gone sailing and kept his mouth shut after leaving office. He’s maintained a very public and outspoken profile, perhaps helping to set a pattern for Cheney’s higher visibility on the issues that are important to him. While the U.S, military has been one of the worst institutional polluters on the planet, nobody was wanting to prosecute Al Gore for his role in helping pollute the planet, but people are wanting to prosecute Cheney for policies he helped maintain. Given his position (not that I agree with it, but) I think he’s smart to be on the defensive early and often. It may help to keep him out of court at some time in the future. A self-defense of his policies in the public arena may help to keep him from needing a court defense later on. If he can make a convincing case that the information gleaned from waterboarding was crucial in allowing the provision of national security, they’ll have a hard time sentencing him to any actual punishment even if he might technically be “guilty.” It’ll also make it politically more difficult to bring any of these people to trial in the first place. I suspect he’s a fairly political animal, and as such probably understands that. I don’t agree with everything he’s done or advocated, but if I was him, I’d keep talking so as to make my case public enough keep it out of court.

Posted by Daniel Johnson | Report as abusive

Of course he would pick Limbaugh. Character, Leadership and Experience means nothing to these Extremists which are hiding in the Republican party. They only care about your loyalty to their ideology which boarders on fascism. The Republican Party needs to do something about these extremists or it may be the end of the Party.

During the Regan administration the CIA had a nickname for these extremists in the Republican Party. They called them “The Crazies.” Well we just went through 8 years of the Crazies in power and look what it has done to our country and the world.

Cheney is one of their staunch leaders. Both he and Carl Rove have stated publicly that their intention was to create a permanent Republican Administration. That is as close as you can get to a dictatorship as you can get in this country without a direct over through of the government. Couple that with the following definition and you should get a chill down your spine.

“a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.”

Very Scary!

Posted by B.Free | Report as abusive

It’s a silly question — With freedom of speech and expression in our Constitution, no one “owes” anyone anything, so Cheney “owes” nothing to the Obama Administration. Also, Cheney is an American and any American can speak his mind freely so long as his commentary does not incite violence against others. What anybody else thinks about Cheney’s commentary is irrelevant really. The best thing to do is just ignore him.

Posted by HS | Report as abusive

“Dick” Cheney should be in prison and he definitely should NOT be granted interviews by anyone, particularly the press. His mind is unstable.

Posted by BE Gurth | Report as abusive

If Dick Cheney is that concerned about the safety of our nation, why doesn’t he contact Obama directly instead of going on all of these news shows?

It seems to me that his comments are potentially making us less safe by giving our enemies the impression that we are a conflicted nation.

My opinion is that his motive may be to defend himself more than being concerned about defending the country.

Posted by Debra | Report as abusive

If Dick Cheney is that concerned about the safety of our nation, why doesn’t he contact Obama directly instead of going on all of these news shows?

It seems to me that his comments are potentially making us less safe by giving our enemies the impression that we are a conflicted nation.

My opinion is that his motive may be to defend himself more than being concerned about defending the country.

Posted by Debra | Report as abusive

What Dick Cheney says is not relevant and never was. He should shut up and retire from public life.

His political career has been a disaster.

Posted by Dennis | Report as abusive

He should be on trial as a war criminal, and if we were truly a nation of laws that would be the case.

Posted by hass | Report as abusive

The reason Republicans are being trampled is that they have gone silent. The reasons and truth behind the decisions made have not been voiced the way they should. People are listening to Dick Cheney so I say KEEP IT UP!

Posted by Mike | Report as abusive

I wonder if Dick Cheney realizes that everyone has figured out what “valuable information” he is referring to when he defends the use of torture. When Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was captured at the end of 2001 and sent to Egypt to be tortured, he made a false confession that Saddam Hussein had offered to train two al-Qaeda operatives in the use of chemical and biological weapons. Al-Libi later recanted his confession, but not until Secretary of State Colin Powell had used the story in February 2003 in an attempt to persuade the UN to support the invasion of Iraq.

Al-Libi’s story is disturbing enough as evidence of the utter contempt with which the Bush administration treated both the truth and the American public, but al-Libi was not the only prisoner tortured until he came up with false confessions about links between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda.

Abu Zubaydah made a number of false confessions about connections between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaeda, above and beyond one particular claim that was subsequently leaked by the administration: a patently ludicrous scenario in which Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were working with Saddam Hussein to destabilize the autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq.

The cases of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi and Abu Zubaydah should be raised every time that Dick Cheney opens his mouth to mention the “valuable information” that was extracted through his use of torture. He has apparently forgotten about the 4,287 American lives that have been lost because of him and his administration – not to mention the 318 other coalition troops, and tens of thousand Iraqis.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

As much as Hussein Obama is blaming Bush, Cheney certainly should be speaking up. BO needs to take the high road instead of whining about inheritance.

Posted by DaveTX | Report as abusive

I never thought much of Dick Cheney until I taped and watched a couple times of Mr. Cheney on Face The Nation, to make sure I heard correctly everything he said. He is absolutely right in his thinking and remarks on what has and is happening to our great America we once knew. All the bleeding hearts that does not agree and takes comments out of context without stating the full content with their head buried in the sand will find out that not protecting our borders, not prosecuting those in capture and believing almost everything from those that hate us will destroy us. Meanwhile our enemies and so called friends are all laughing at our ignorance of ‘being understanding and compassionate.’ Enemy is what it means ‘enemy’ and war is war. Mr. Dick Cheney for President!

Off the cuff:
You may not print my comments because I’m sure it will be offensive to you or even libelous. I don’t think what I wrote is..your choice of course.

Posted by FrannieB | Report as abusive

Thank God for Mr. Cheney. I agree completely with his comments.
None of us are happy as to the weak reasons given for going into Iraq.
But wasn’t that Mr. Powell up at the UN making the ”evidence” case?
Why no flak for his part?
He was in a supreme position to have spoken up for the truth, having
been head of military and the State.
We certainly need a clear new younger generation voice for the Conservatives.
What a vacuum.

Posted by billy d | Report as abusive

How about answering questions, especially from government authorities of the country he is supposedly defending?

Posted by Alexis de Tocqueville | Report as abusive

Cheney doesn’t owe Obama the time of day. I appreciate his candor. Articles like this renew my relief that he is removed from the levers of power.

Posted by Tom Burton | Report as abusive

Unlike Quale and Gore, who were not talked about or threatened legal action by the next administration, Cheney has partially been the focus of the Obama Administration and Congress. So “should Cheney continue to speak out?” Yes. He has a right to defend himself in the public against accusations laid against him.

As far as “breaking with tradition,” why didn’t you mention the public criticism of Jimmy Carter against George Bush? Carter broke tradition of former Presidents not speaking ill of current Presidents. You could say Cheney is just returning the favor of the criticism started by the opposition party.

Posted by U.S. Common Sense | Report as abusive

The freedom of speech should be guaranteed to every one, including mentally challenged.

Posted by Axel Schenger | Report as abusive

Dick who?

Posted by Patrick Day | Report as abusive

I disliked the Republicans before but now I HATE them like I would have the Nazis in Germany in the late 30s—Pure Evil, They have practically destroyed all that used to be good about this country. Greedy, hypocritical, vicious self-rightous MONSTERS!!!!

Posted by Debbie Curnes | Report as abusive

As a life long Democrat, I heartily approve Vice President Cheney speaking out loudly and often on behalf of his party and its principles. If there are any Republicans left who are opposed to torture, or who would prefer to associate with American heroes such as General Powell, rather than druggy draft dodgers like Rush Limbaugh, they might want to speak up too. Of course, most of them have already abandoned the GOP to the former VP and his few close associates.

Posted by Richard Herzog | Report as abusive

The former Vice President needs to speak out. The policies adopted after 9-11 saved lives. President Obama and his supporters have taken direct shots at the actions of the previous administration which should not go unchallenged.

Posted by Todd | Report as abusive

I say let the blithering idiot say everything he wants and more–he does more damage to the Republican party, and to any dreams of a big tent, with every utterance than any Democrat could. He manages to alienate everybody except the rabid, frothing dittoheads that inhabit Fox News and AM radio. Talk on, Dick! Hope to see you under indictment soon!

Posted by Malcolm McKinsey | Report as abusive

Thank Goodness he is speaking out!! Someone has too. The defense of our nation is the number one item our government is responsible for. Currently it seems our government is not as concerned to defend our nation against the real terrorists, but instead trying to hurt pure and patriotic American citizens. Hopefully he takes an aspirin a day and continues to speak up…that is what the USA is about..and it has never been a crime to do so…or is it?

Posted by m | Report as abusive

Cheney’s approval numbers: 18%
Limbaugh’s approval numbers: 26%
Powell’s approval numbers: 80% (Rasmussen), or, 54% (CBS/NY Times).

Either way you slice it, Colin Powell is more popular than Cheney and Limbaugh combined. Keep talking, Dick.

Posted by getplaning | Report as abusive

I see the far left wing of the Democratic party getting more and more dictatorial and intolerant as witnessed by their responses above and in other blogs. They now have complete dominance in Congress to push their socialistic, communistic agenda forward without opposition. But what they fail to realize is that they are concentrated in just a few states and that there is still a sizable number of people in the U.S.( say 46% and growing ) who believe that this country was founded on faith and Godly principals. And a lot of people who voted for Obama just wanted change, not a comrade of Chavez. Now to oppose Obama’s policies is to be labeled a traitor and an enemy of the state. Hugo Chavez signed a law in Venezuela that allows him to jail anyone who opposes him on grounds that they are “traitors”. Sound familiar? This country is going to slip apart with the Red states voting to leave the union. Obama was going to bring us together? Never under a communist flag.

Posted by MB | Report as abusive

“So go ahead, but be glad you are alive to criticize. For the time being, it is still a free country.” Sounds a little like channeling Ari Fleischer there when he told the press to watch what they say lest they help the terrorists win. Thing is, though, even saying something like that to the press is an indication the terrorists have already won since they made the government take away one of our First Amendment rights, the free press. “The majority of this country is still right of center”, results of the last two elections notwithstanding. “Nobody was wanting to prosecute Al Gore for his role in helping pollute the planet.” What exactly was Al Gore’s role in polluting the planet, and what Geneva protocol was violated by any such polluting? Was it a war crime to pollute? “If Dick Cheney is that concerned about the safety of our nation, why doesn’t he contact Obama directly instead of going on all of these news shows?” Good point but I’d go further: if Dick Cheney was so concerned about the safety of our country, why didn’t he run for president in 2008 like VPs normally do after their time in second place is up? What was he so afraid of? Perhaps a little close scrutiny of his record and beliefs? Or is he really only good at flapping his gums like his buddy Rush, both chickenhawks and draft dodgers who are very brave with other people’s lives? Good point, getplaning; I read that recently in the paper, that one of the primary reasons for all the waterboarding was to get “confessions” out of the 9/11 conspirators that there was in fact a connection between them and Iraq when in fact there was none, i.e. to justify after the fact that the reasons for going into Iraq were true when they were in fact false. “But wasn’t that Mr. Powell up at the UN making the ”evidence” case? Why no flak for his part? He was in a supreme position to have spoken up for the truth, having
been head of military and the State.” Well, at the time he was the Secretary of State, a position he held at the pleasure of the president, i.e. he was Bush’s mouthpiece at the UN doing Bush’s bidding; not spouting the party line would have been disloyal for him and been the end of his career in the GOP. I seem to recall he has since recanted his spouting up for Bush’s rush to war, so either way he’s now just a RINO to the True Believers.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Mr. Cheney certainly has the right, as we all do, to speak his mind on the pertinent issues of our time. Just because Mr. Cheney or, as I like to refer to him – Dick – is forthright enough to espouse his radically unAmerican views. I say unAmerican because he opposes the fundamental rights espoused by our Constitution.

Anyway, Dick should be allowed the freedom of speech that he would like to deny others. And we shouldn’t even put him on a secret terrorist watch list because he criticizes the President. Of course Dick and Bush did exactly that to democratic opponents, but I am a better person than he is, and refuse to lower my self to his level and be a Dick.

Posted by Lord Astral | Report as abusive

I think it doesn’t matter. in my line of work I hear Americans saying the most profoundly stupid things, especially republicans. the fact that any republican can stand anywhere and say anything remotely supportive of the past 8 years is a tribute to the human ability to change reality to support their ego.

Posted by jeremy | Report as abusive

By the By M

these people, especially Dick, CREATED the global situation that led to our security being compromised.
yet another example of doublethink from a conservative.

Posted by jeremy | Report as abusive

Come on people. After 9-11 Bush – Cheney administration had to do dirty jobs to protect YOU and me. We are now safe in U.S. And this is what they get from you? — It’s inhuman to interrogate a terrorist, but It’s the RIGHT to kill unborn child —- No wonder, wherever I go, people in the third world are laughing at us.

Posted by Thomas Tran | Report as abusive

To address the author’s questions: Does it matter? Not to me. Should he be allowed to speak? Of course he should and he owe’s nothing to Obama or “his” administration. To address these comments: Come on you guys. The federal government hasn’t really supported the Constitution as “rule of law” since it’s inception. This all goes far beyond the republicrats of our day. Americans have claimed for many years that we have been the beacon for freedom, liberty, and free will since we “declared” our freedom from England. To know and understand the definitions of these “rights” might serve us all well. Look them up if your not absolutely familiar with their meanings. While your looking things up add to the list Republic, Republican, Democracy, and Democrat. You may be surprised at what you find.

Posted by jason | Report as abusive

Yea, Al Gore quietly left the public eye. What is this guy smoking?

Posted by Tom Bowman | Report as abusive

send him to the Hague

Posted by Eloise | Report as abusive

is anyone taking notes debbie?liberals have problems remembering past comments,i wonder if you will be as strident with your hatred when inflation is out of control and unemployment at 14%.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Cheney is right to keep up the pressure by talking out. The whole truth will come out.

For instance, first Nancy Pelosi (in typical democratic finger wagging style) insisted she was never informed or a part of any meeting where waterboarding was discussed. Now she is saying she was mislead by the CIA and Bush administration…

Well, doesn’t that make her a liar? Either she did or did not attend meetings where waterboarding was discussed.

She has lost credibility and the democrats better watch their step. As people want to forget, there were a lot of democrats who said “to do what ever it takes” right after 9/11. Now for political reasons, they want to run and blame. It is just like the WMD argument in Iraq. Lots of democrats gave speeches on the floors of congress saying how dangerous Iraq and their WMDs were and that we needed to go in and take care of it. Now they want to run and blame.

Yeah, the most ethical congress ever (FYI Nancy Pelosi said that)….

Posted by TC | Report as abusive