As to the interview, the king of black and white left a soundbite to keep some pants moist for another few months:
WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?I'm not, although again it's easy to lose sight of the situation years later when the images of civilian office workers jumping off a 110 story tower have faded. There has to be some accountability at the top. That said, there also has to be discretion at the top. When the CEO says he's gonna look forward then takes off on vacation and allows subordinates to look back that doesn't tend to build confidence in the troops. Basic management school 101.
CHENEY: I am.
But the politics is secondary here. This ain't bean bag, and it ain't health care policy debate. It's protecting the country. Andy McCarthy mentions Obama's penchant for transnationalism and suggests he'll let the internationals do his indictment dirty work, a charge which is unfortunately viable based on actions to date, but one that is also loaded with so much domestic blowback it would be crazy to pursue as policy.
Of more importance is Maguire's question, asked by Chris Wallace in the interview--what we do with the next version of KSM? Cheney:
I think that if they were faced with the kind of situation we were faced with in the aftermath of 9/11, suddenly capturing people that may have knowledge about imminent attacks, and they're going to have to have meetings and decide who gets to ask what question and who's going to Mirandize the witness, I think it's silly. It makes no sense. It doesn't appear to be a serious move in terms of being able to deal with the nation's security.Hard to argue with that but one thing the HIG group seems to do is place interrogation responsibility on the POTUS, not subordinates, going towards the accountability thing. Of course the POTUS will not be doing the questioning (we hope). God forbid there comes another day where that bright line becomes a little fuzzier based on circumstances of the moment, the policy has to work. The Prez has a security detail, the peeps don't.
And while the HIG suggests more accountability it also consolidates a bit more power at the top as well, ironically a charge repeatedly leveled against Cheney, who operated with far less czar positions than the present day government.
Things occurred as expected today, as if parts of a play. Act one was Obama doing an about face on prosecutions, hiding behind his AG's coattails. Act two consisted of the former Vice President, referred to by a major news periodical as the "emporer" in Star Wars, popping out of his hole to whack his foes in defense of his former king's honor. Finally, act three features the court jester appearing to bash the bad emporer and defend his besmirched king, who's still in hiding.
Plays aside, here's another view: Cheney is as black and white as it gets. After 9/11 there was little room left for nuance anymore on the terrorist paradigm--they'd reached to a new plateau in the good bad thing. He probably figured the folks who slammed planes into the towers were certainly capable of releasing anthrax or setting off dirty--or even clean--nukes. In his support, go back and read about the man on Flight 175 talking to his dad on the phone who begins to realize they are going to kamakazi into a building, followed by the shrill scream of a woman passenger onboard as the phone goes dead. Seconds later the biggest piece of that man left would be a bone 6 inches long. That's fairly powerful stuff. Cheney was partly responsible for stopping more of those events.
So under that mindset a belly slap or water dunk wasn't enough to stop a technique that was at least gleaning some information, even if some of it was erroneous. Isn't some information better than no information? After all, some information can at least be tracked and corroborated. We know that some of these AQ captives were expecting no heavy interrogation due to 'values' and were prepared to give us erroneous information the normal way as well, after stalling.
In regards to KSM and Zubaydah, time was the key factor. The government thought another bigger attack might be coming and they obviously felt they needed to wheedle it out of the very men who knew about it--and fast. They did, and indeed it saved lives.
Cheney's mistake comes from not acknowledging those American values during his narrative. Expressing a bit more remorse over the necessity of having to do such harsh things might go over better in the court of public opinion--a court that has a very short memory.