Since President Obama released Bush-era Office of Legal Counsel memos detailing the authorization of the Bush administration’s torture program, Vice President Cheney has taken to the public airwaves on numerous occasions, not only attacking Obama’s security policies but vigorously defending what he perceives (wrongly) as the efficacy of torture. “I’m convinced, absolutely convinced, that we saved thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of lives,” Cheney said recently on CBS.
In response, many in the media have asked why Cheney — someone who had avoided the media at all costs during his eight years as vice president — would be airing his opinions in such a forceful and public way. Indeed, Cheney himself has answered this question, claiming he is speaking out because he believes that torture and other Bush administration anti-terror policies — many of which Obama is abandoning — were “exactly the right thing to do” and that “there isn’t anybody there on the other side to tell the truth.”
In turn, media figures have answered the question in much the same way. “I think he genuinely believes we are threatened now more because of what Obama is doing,” MSNBC’s Pat Buchanan has said. CNN’s David Gergen said, “I think Dick Cheney almost has a Churchillian view of this, and that is somebody has got to stand up and be the voice in the wilderness.” But while the narrative of Cheney’s motives focuses mainly on the righteous, it has all but ignored the selfish — that Cheney is trying to muddle the public debate with the goal of reducing public support for a criminal inquiry into the torture regime that he authorized.
L. CHENEY: I don’t think he planned to be doing this, you know, when they left office in January. But I think, as it became clear that President Obama was not only going to be stopping some of these policies, that he was going to be doing things like releasing the — the techniques themselves, so that the terrorists could now train to them, that he was suggesting that perhaps we would even be prosecuting former members of the Bush administration.
Does Liz Cheney also fear that her dad will be prosecuted for his role in the Bush administration’s torture program? Perhaps so. As Steve Benen has noted, “Liz Cheney has been all over the television news” as well, with “12 appearances, in nine and a half days, spanning four networks.”