TAPPED is on vacation. But Adam Serwer reads the latest Dick Cheney interview in Politico — one wonders if Cheney insists on being called Mr. Wipe-Me-Down during those, um, sessions with Mike Allen — and has some things to say. I offer up this humble platform.
For the past year, POLITICO has treated Dick Cheney as a disinterested third party rather than a stakeholder, behaving as though the former Vice President doesn’t have specific political and personal interests in defending torture and criticizing the national security policies of the current administration (particularly given that some Bush admin policies, ike torture, were blatantly illegal). Today’s piece on Cheney’s response (practically unnecessary, every Republican has their Cheney impression down pat at this point) breaks new ground in how to divorce Cheney’s criticisms from all relevant context:
“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation—the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.”
Well once again, we’re back to Republicans criticizing Obama for not blowing enough hot air at Al Qaeda, as though Obama could prevent terrorism by hurting Osama bin Laden’s feelings. I liked Cheney’s criticism better when Peter King offered it several days ago. The man is slipping.
But what’s truly astonishing here is that Cheney’s criticism is delivered without acknowledging reports that it was the Bush administration that released the planners of the failed bombing into a Saudi rehabilitation program. In other words, Cheney’s crew may have released a bunch of “hard-core al Qaeda trained terrorists” who may have planned an attack on the United States, but this whole thing is Obama’s fault because he doesn’t call people names. That might kinda sorta be relevant to his criticisms of the President. Reading the POLITICO piece, you’d think Cheney was just like a security analyst at a think tank or something, not a culpable figure in the very act he’s criticizing.
A brief point about detainees: Hundreds have been released from Gitmo. The vast majority are not dangerous. People who want to close Gitmo aren’t saying “let the bad guys go”–they’re making the obvious point that you can’t simply Hoover up random people, pronounce them guilty, and then hold them forever just because. If the planners of the failed X-mas bombing were released, depending on whether or not they were radicalized prior to or during their time at Gitmo, it speaks to a need for a better review process untainted by coerced information. If the above story is true, it doesn’t speak well of the supposed infallibility of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques.”
Update: this post has been corrected to fix a first-graf typo.