Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 14, 2010

BUSH/CHENEY TOO LIBERAL FOR CHENEY.... I'm reluctant to make too much of Dick Cheney's latest musings -- the failed former vice president gets too much attention already -- but given the larger debate about national security and counter-terrorism policies, this seems like a relatively important development.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney says he disagreed with the Bush administration's release of prisoners from the Guantanamo Bay detention center and with the decision to subject terrorists to criminal courts.

Cheney says he opposed the Bush administration decision to charge shoe bomber Richard Reid in criminal court rather than declare him an enemy combatant and hold him in military custody.

Obama administration officials have responded to Republican-led criticism of their handling of terrorism suspects in part by pointing to similar actions by the administration of Republican President George W. Bush.

And it's a fairly compelling response. For every far-right Republican that tells the Obama administration, "I can't believe you're Mirandizing terrorist suspects, trying them in federal courts, imprisoning them on American soil, and closing Gitmo," the administration responds, "Bush/Cheney Mirandized terrorist suspects, tried them in federal courts, imprisoned them on American soil, and supported closing Gitmo ... and you never said a word."

So, today, Cheney said the only rational thing someone who wants to trash President Obama can say: he disagreed with his own administration.

Indeed, Cheney even acknowledged that his administration could have tried Richard Reid in a military court, but chose to go the civilian route.

That's not all. When confronted with a Bush-era Justice Department document praising civilian courts as an effective weapon against terror, Cheney acknowledged that some in the administration saw things this way. "We didn't all agree with that," Cheney said, acknowledging that there was a "major shootout" inside the administration over the merits of civilian trials.

This, again, is a clear acknowledgment that many Bushies endorsed the current Obama approach.

What an odd dynamic. The debate pits two groups -- one is led by President Obama, whose judgment has been endorsed by the military establishment, the intelligence establishment, policy experts, and is in keeping with the practices of all modern presidential administrations. The other group is led by Dick Cheney, neocons, congressional Republicans, Joe Lieberman, and a little too much of the media establishment.

But the bottom line remains the same: as far as Cheney is concerned, Bush and his team were too liberal when it came to national security. That's seems crazy, but that's his argument and he's sticking to it.

Steve Benen 2:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (29)

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God damn Dick Cheney's shit-filled soul to hell.

Posted by: neill on February 14, 2010 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

Thanks, libruhl medee-duh!

Waterboarding -- war crime deserving execution for everyone but Cheney!

Posted by: Dems lose huge in 2010 on February 14, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

...that's his argument and he's sticking to it.

It's not an argument. It's an emotional outburst using words that sound like policy.

He's speaking a different language, at a different frequency (and arguably to a different species).

There's no point in trying to make sense of it as an argument. And there is even less of a point trying to combat it on that basis.

For some reason, Democrats -- especially intellectual ones -- don't seem to understand this.

Posted by: bleh on February 14, 2010 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

Rachel Maddow absolutely SKEWERED Republican Congressman Aaron Schock on these issues during the roundtable on Meet the Press today.

Posted by: Joe Friday on February 14, 2010 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

The other bottom line on this is that trying terrorists in a regular court seems to have worked pretty well, while trying to try them in military tribunals has been plagued with problems.

Of course, that only counts if you let yourself be influenced by evidence.

Posted by: tamiasmin on February 14, 2010 at 3:44 PM | PERMALINK

"'We didn't all agree with that,' Cheney said, acknowledging that there was a 'major shootout' inside the administration over the merits of civilian trials."

Cheney is serial liar (e.g, torture worked), and as such, I'm skeptical that this "shootout" ever occurred. I could be mistaken, but as far as I can tell, he's lying to boost the false assertions of myth makers who are using any means necessary to bring this administration down.

Trying terrorists and terrorist-wannabes in civilian courts wasn't controversial among the political right during the Bush administration, and but for their hypocrisy, it shouldn't be any more controversial today.

Posted by: Chris on February 14, 2010 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

I don't believe that there was a big shootout between DICK and others at the time, I just think he's saying that after the fact so he can continue his sleazy attacks against everything that Obama does without looking like a complete liar.
I suppose he's fooling some people.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 14, 2010 at 3:58 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is supposedly an expert.

He is if you count the billions of dollars he has reaped for his buddies while waging perpetuawar.

I can't wait to see him on the airwaves after our next attack blabbing about how unsafe we are.

Get a grip folks. We have far more things to worry about than terrorist attacks. Fear stokes fear.

What we should be afraid of is 10% unemployment and sky-rocketing health-insurance premiums.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 14, 2010 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney being Cheney, we can at least be grateful that the "shoot out" was metaphorical rather than literal. Or so I hope. Was Harry Whittington involved in this dispute about where and how to try terrorism suspects? He is a lawyer, after all.

We shouldn't be too surprised that Cheney wanted to abolish even the slight vestigial remnants of Constitutional government and of the American judicial system in order to enhance his "unitary executive" system, aka dictatorship.

Posted by: T-Rex on February 14, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Of course, the general 'TeaParty' critique of the Bush43 administration is that it was 'too liberal'. They routinely compare GWBush & Friends to 'Nixon/Rockefeller' Republicans and themselves to 'Reagan' followers. This is the dynamic behind the whole 'RINO' and 'purity test' nonsense. Great news for the good guys!!! The assholes are marginalizing themselves; it's 1964 all over again.

Posted by: JohnMcC on February 14, 2010 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

cheney is remarkably consistent in at least one respect: i didn't believe a single thing he said back then, and i don't believe a single thing he says now.

Posted by: mellowjohn on February 14, 2010 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

Time for the Democrats to explore the opening chasm between Cheney and his old boss, chip away at it, and make sure it turns into a wide chasm within the Republican party. Easy. Fun. Good for the kiddies' and grandkiddies' futures.

Posted by: pw on February 14, 2010 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

Is there anything more Cheney-esque than blasting alleged terrorists and whoever is with them with a missile from a drone? Maybe they have the Miranda speech engraved on the missile so the target gets his constitutional rights that way?

Posted by: Dale on February 14, 2010 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is free to say whatever he wants, but I really can't understand why the network would give a forum to a man that was about as popular as O.J., who bullshited the American people about WMDs, to this day advocates torture, continues to spout the meme linking Sadam to nukes and ties to terrorists. If he's going to attempt to white wash history, I see absolutely no reason for the media volunteer an invitation to hold the bucket of paint for him. At this point, I am only interested in hearing what Vader has to say in a proper forum, a prosecutorial tribunal.

Posted by: sparrow on February 14, 2010 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

Of COURSE Bush/Cheney was too liberal. Think about it: at the end of his term, Bush had something like a 20% approval rating; the vast majority of Americans recognized his administration as an unmitigated disaster. It follows logically, then, that he was too liberal. Conservatism can never fail, it can only be failed.

Posted by: Daryl McCullough on February 14, 2010 at 4:56 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Bush was too liberal for Cheney; he did, after all, agree to leave office instead of staying and declaring a permanent emergency. I'm sure Cheney would have preferred that, since he is so fond of extra-Constitutional approaches.

Assuming the Dick is being truthful about his objections back when, the next question is, since the treatment of Richard Reid both upheld the Constitution and put him away, does Cheney think he might have been wrong, both then and now??

If Dick is being truthful, we have a perfect experiment. Dick said do it one way, because it would be bad to do it the other. Bush did it the other way. How do we think that went? I say, it looks pretty good. Cheney was wrong. Now he needs to shut the hell up.

Posted by: biggerbox on February 14, 2010 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

It is easy to see why Cheney would throw his own administration under the bus. The fact that Obama is doing exactly what the Bush administration did is simply too obvious to ignore. So, saying it was a mistake frees up Cheney from having to defend his own administration so he can go on the offensive against Cheney.

But that tactic has its downside. He can say that it was a mistake for Bush to try terrorists in court and give them rights. But then Cheney can't at the same time say that it was BUSH/CHENEY POLICIES THAT KEPT THIS NATION SAFE AND WITHOUT AN ATTACK FOR EIGHT YEARS. Either is administration was a success in fighting terrorists, or it was not, he can't have it both ways.

It is easy to

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 14, 2010 at 6:14 PM | PERMALINK

Not exactly a surprise that Cheney was for civilian courts before he was against them. After all, he was against invading Iraq before he was for it.

Posted by: J. Frank parnell on February 14, 2010 at 7:27 PM | PERMALINK

Either (h)is administration was a success in fighting terrorists, or it was not, he can't have it both ways. Ted Frier

If you are Dick Cheney you can have it both ways. Who is going to challenge you? The "liberal" media?

Posted by: Ron Byers on February 14, 2010 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

His daughter is reported to have claimed that if the first World Trade Center bombing culprits had been tried by military tribunals instead of a civilian court, then we would have gotten intelligence about 9/11. This falls down on two points. One is that we DID have intelligence about 9/11, but Cheney/Bush ignored it. The other is that it isn't very likely that the people involved in the first attempt in 1993 knew anything at all about an attempt in 2001 that hadn't even been thought of yet.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 14, 2010 at 7:41 PM | PERMALINK

And another comment on terrorism. A couple years ago there was a series of blasts on the London subway system and bus system. The Brits didn't pee in their pants. Indeed one man was shaving when a bomb went off in a bus in front of his apartment. He only said, "If they were trying to get me, they missed." and went on shaving. Another woman refused to leave her apartment in the same area when the police wanted to cordon off the whole block. If she could survive the German bombing of London, she wasn't going to run from a bunch of ragtag kids. In the park nearby the next day were a bunch of flowers and a sign that said, "London Pride." So even though some people were killed and things were destroyed, the terrorist attack was a failure.

Contrast that with the underwear bomber and the American response. We have the Cheney's and all the other chickenhawks and their underlings and supporters weeping, wailing, gnashing their teeth and wetting their pants even though nothing ever happened. So even though the attack didn't damage anything beyond some idiot's privates, the attack was a rousing success. It's all in how you react, like a man or like a scared little mouse.

Posted by: Texas Aggie on February 14, 2010 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Richard Cheney has almost never agreed with himself.

As for his framing in the counter terrorism effort, it's atrocious, yet far too prevalent and taken for granted, and as a country needs to be more strategically focused on?

Posted by: D.P. on February 14, 2010 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Cheney is a war criminal who is running for the 2012 GOP presidential nomination. Needless to say, he would beau ideal standard bearer for that party of swine- the picture perfect face of American fascism.

And the democratic party is spooked of the sonsofbitches. It's enough to make a person puke.

Posted by: JW on February 14, 2010 at 8:40 PM | PERMALINK

Curious. During the Cheney/Bush administration, PRESIDENT Cheney tried the Shoe Bomber in civilian court. Now that he is out of office, he disagrees with himself.

And here I thought it was the winners who wrote the history!

Posted by: DAY on February 14, 2010 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK

He'll take this tack until he needs another to criticize Obama's approach to law enforcement. Dick has gone round the bend a bit, methinks.

Posted by: rbe1 on February 15, 2010 at 4:53 AM | PERMALINK

"major shootout" inside the administration"

Cheney should have shot Bush in the face and got an apology from Bush for obstruction of Cheney policy.

Posted by: Dave on February 15, 2010 at 8:00 AM | PERMALINK

Dick Cheney is a dark, evil, sick old man with a highly selective memory. He relies on strange revisionist history to support his criticisms of the current administration. Cheney should be spending his final days in jail, not appearing as relevent on network television.

Posted by: Carol All on February 15, 2010 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Can someone please explain to me why the MSM thinks that a former VP whose administration allowed the worst terrorist attack on Amercian soil is an expert on compating terrorism? I watched Chris Matthews show yesterday and he feeds the same talking point. What happened to common sense, critical thinking and personal observation skills with our press?

Posted by: IrishJim on February 15, 2010 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

....This Comment Deliberately Left Blank.

...because I don't give a rat's ass what that horrible person has to say.

Posted by: cwolf on February 15, 2010 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK



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