Today on CBS’s Face the Nation, Vice President Cheney vigorously defended the Bush administration’s torture policies and his belief that by rejecting them, President Obama is raising “the risk to the American people of another attack.” Cheney said that the Bush administration’s interrogation policies will one day be viewed as “one of the great success stories of American intelligence.”
When host Bob Schieffer asked Cheney whether he would be willing to testify to Congress under oath, Cheney initially hedged, but then indicated that he would be willing to do so:
SCHIEFFER: Would you go back and talk to the Congress?
CHENEY: Certainly. I’ve made it very clear that I feel very strongly that what we did here was exactly the right thing to do. And if I don’t speak out, then where do we find ourselves, Bob? Then the critics have free run, and there isn’t anybody there on the other side to tell the truth. So it’s important — it’s important that we…
SCHIEFFER: Senator Leahy, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was on this broadcast recently. And I said, do you intend to ask the former vice president to come up? And he said if he will testify under oath. Would you be willing to testify under oath?
CHENEY: I’d have to see what the circumstances are and what kind of precedent we were setting. But certainly I wouldn’t be out here today if I didn’t feel comfortable talking about what we’re doing publicly.
This past week, Cheney tried to portray himself as a type of populist with a responsibility to defend powerless intelligence officials. “I went through the Iran-contra hearings and watched the way administration officials ran for cover and left the little guys out to dry. And I was bound and determined that wasn’t going to happen this time,” he said. Of course, the Bush officials actually implicated in approving torture — David Addington, Jay Bybee, and Alberto Gonzales — were hardly “little.”
Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer has also been a vocal defender of the Bush administration’s policies in recent days, saying, “I’ll be proud to testify if I get a subpoena. I’m proud of what we did to protect this country.”
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