White House responds to Cheney critique of torture probe
In a Sunday interview with Fox News, Dick Cheney derided the Justice Department decision to look into allegations of CIA prisoner abuse, shrugged off suggestions that he might cooperate with an investigation, and maintained that so-called enhanced interrogation techniques were successful in stopping terrorist attacks against the US.
"I just think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage, long term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say," Cheney said of the investigation.
The segment has been described by blogger Andrew Sullivan as a "teenager girl interviewing the Jonas Brothers." Still, Cheney's responses to the softball questioning had enough bite to reignite a media firestorm.
As we noted last week, a number of Bush administration officials have already publicly criticized the Justice Department probe. “I think the decision is disgusting,” Ari Fleischer, President George W. Bush’s first press secretary, told the Huffington Post. “It’s amazing to me that the people who kept us safe may now become the people our government prosecutes. There are plenty of real criminals out there – it would be nice if the Justice Department went after them."
Meanwhile, in a much-discussed statement, Cheney questioned President Barack Obama's national security credentials. “President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security,” Cheney said.
Now he's followed up with the Chris Wallace interview. It's a one-two punch, intended to cut into support for the President.
And the White House isn't taking the attack lying down. Today, White House Press Secretary Roberts Gibbs dismissed Cheney's remarks, calling them "the same song and dance we've heard since literally the first day of our administration.... I think the Vice President, if you watch some of his interview, clearly had his facts on a number of things wrong." (Video below.)
Gibbs also pointed to recent comments by John McCain, who has questioned the efficacy of techniques employed on Bush's watch. (McCain opposes enhanced interrogations, but has called the Justice probe a "mistake.") "[McCain] certainly doesn't agree with us on every issue as it relates to this, I understand that, but given his experience, I think [his comments] are tremendously illuminating," Gibbs said.
Then he took one final jab at the former Vice President.
"I'm not entirely sure Dick Cheney's predictions on foreign policy have borne a whole lot of fruit over the last eight years in a way that have been either positive, or to the best of my recollection, very correct," Gibbs said.
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