On Saturday, the New York Times reported that former Vice President Dick Cheney gave “direct orders” to the CIA, compelling the agency to withhold “information about a secret counterterrorism program from Congress for eight years.” Despite news organizations’ efforts to contact him, Cheney has yet to comment on the revelation.
Following the revelation, congressional Democrats have called for an investigation into the hidden program, which the Wall Street Journal reports involved “an attempt to carry out a 2001 presidential authorization to capture or kill al Qaeda operatives.” But on the Washington Times’ America’s Morning News radio show today, Cheney’s daughter, Liz, lashed back at his critics:
CHENEY: There’s this big piece in the Wall Street Journal this morning that says that it was a number of different concepts for ways that we could capture or kill al Qaeda leaders in the days after 9/11. I am really surprised that the Democrats decide that that’s what they want to fight over. I mean, if they want to go to the American people and say that they disagree with the notion that we ought to be capturing and killing al Qaeda leaders, I think it’s just going to prove to the American people one more time why they can’t trust the Democrats with our national security.
Cheney claimed that complaints by Democrats that the program was concealed from Congress are surfacing only because they are “very worried about Speaker Pelosi” and the attacks on her over her claim that the CIA misled her about the Bush administration’s use of waterboarding. Listen here:
Of course, Cheney is dodging the issue of whether Bush and Cheney fulfilled their obligations under the National Security Act of 1947, which says that congressional intelligence committees must be “kept fully and currently informed of the intelligence activities of the United States, including any significant anticipated intelligence activity.”
Cheney also responded to news that Attorney General Holder is considering appointing a special prosecutor to investigate “the Bush administration’s brutal interrogation practices,” calling it “shameful.” She added that her father is “very angry” about the development:
CHENEY: His reaction to the story that we may well be prosecuting folks, I’m happy to talk about that. … You know, he is very angry, as you’ve heard him say publicly. You know the notion that this administration is going to come into office and they’re going to prosecute the brave men and women who carried out this program that kept America safe. It is, it is un-American. It’s something that hasn’t happened before in this country, in terms of somebody taking office and then starting to prosecute people who carried out policies that they disagreed with, you know, in the previous administration. He’s been very public about that.
Cheney says that Holder would be investigating people “who carried this program out according to the Department of Justice opinions,” but Newsweek reports that Holder is more concerned about “startling indications that some interrogators had gone far beyond what had been authorized in the legal opinions.”