Former vice president Dick Cheney has been popping up in the media lately to defend the Bush administration's "enhanced interrogation" techniques and other steps in the War on Terror.
On Sunday, Cheney suggested President Barack Obama owed George Bush an apology for criticism how the Bush administration had undertaken the battle against terrorism in the wake of a drone attack that killed American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlak:
Former Vice President Dick Cheney applauded the U.S. drone strike that killed American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki but added that President Obama now owed the Bush administration an apology for claiming they “overreacted to 9/11.”
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Cheney said Obama was inconsistent for criticizing the former administration’s approach to terrorism while also using “some of the same techniques the Bush administration did.”
“We developed the technique and the technology for it,” said Cheney of the drone strike that killed Awlaki.
Cheney took particular issue with the administration’s reluctance to describe the fight against al Qaeda as a “war” and Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo where he walked back from many Bush administration policies.
“The thing I'm waiting for is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for 'overreacting' to the events of 9/11,” said Cheney. “They, in effect, said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policies contrary to our ideals when we had enhanced interrogation techniques.”
As you can see in the clip above, Sen. John McCain, of all people, is standing up for Obama in this debate:
This was specifically authorized by Congress after 9/11 and it’s action that is taken against a declared enemy of the United States of America. I’m glad they did it. I’m glad that they will continue. In the case of, quote, enhanced interrogation, i.e., torture, there are Geneva Conventions, there are laws that prohibit it. And it is very obvious that one of the great recruitment tools that our enemy has is the fact that we tortured people, which is not in keeping with the standards of the treatment of prisoners which is a long held custom. And, by the way, we never got useful information as a result of torture, but we sure got a lot of angry citizens from around the world and deservedly so,
New York magazine's Jonathan Chait has an insightful take on Cheney's ongoing PR campaign:
That was the nub of Bush’s worldview. The war on terror was a war, something fought with massed military power. If you were criticizing Bush’s approach from the left, you were in favor of weakness and surrender. If you criticized it from the right, you were in favor of a new land invasion. The neoconservatives genuinely seemed to believe that the strategic options lay along a linear scale, from soft to tough. By this way of thinking, Obama was accusing them of acting too tough.
And so, since he has killed a great many terrorists, Obama is now “tough,” and has therefore adopted the Bush—Cheney approach. Cheney’s bizarre misapprehension about the current administration simply reflects his failure to even conceive of the possibility that the fight against Al Qaeda might be waged, not just less, but better.