Watching the Dick Cheney farewell tour of interviews is becoming downright surreal. He steadfastly refuses to admit that the Bush administration has ever done anything wrong. In fact, the closest he’s come to saying they’ve made a mistake is to argue that Bush should not have fired Rumsfeld because Rumsfeld was doing a great job. Seriously.
Cheney, speaking less than a month before he and President Bush leave the White House, was blunt and unapologetic about his central role in some of the most controversial issues of the past eight years, including the invasion of Iraq, warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens, and harsh interrogation tactics. Cheney also said he disagreed with Bush’s decision to remove embattled Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in 2006, saying that “the president doesn’t always take my advice.”
“I was a Rumsfeld man,” Cheney said. “I’d helped recruit him and I thought he did a good job for us.”
The word delusional certainly leaps to mind. But even worse is that he’s defending the administration’s appalling record by saying, in essence, “Hey, we weren’t so bad. If we’d wanted to, we could have nuked the whole world and no one could stop us.”
In discussing his views of broad executive power on national security issues, Cheney said Abraham Lincoln and Franklin D. Roosevelt “went far beyond anything we’ve done in a global war on terror,” and said that all U.S. presidents since 1973 have viewed the War Powers Act — which gave Congress the role of declaring war — as unconstitutional. He noted that the president is accompanied at all times by a military aide carrying the nuclear “football” allowing the launching of nuclear strikes.
“He could launch the kind of devastating attack the world has never seen,” Cheney said. “He doesn’t have to check with anybody. He doesn’t have to call the Congress; he doesn’t have to check with the courts. He has that authority because of the nature of the world we live in. It’s unfortunate, but I think we’re perfectly appropriate to take the steps we have.”
This is akin to a mafia thug saying, “Yeah, so we broke your legs. You got off lucky, we could have killed your whole family.”