Cheney triggered the flap in an interview Tuesday by radio broadcaster Scott Hennen of WDAY in Fargo, N.D. Hennen said callers had told him, "Please, let the vice president know that if it takes dunking a terrorist in water, we're all for it, if it saves lives."
"Would you agree a dunk in water is a no-brainer if it can save lives?" Hennen asked.
"Well, it's a no-brainer for me, but for a while there I was criticized as being the vice president for torture," Cheney said. "We don't torture. That's not what we're involved in."
Translation: We believe in torture, but we don't do it.
"I have said that the interrogation program for a selected number of detainees is very important ... I believe it has allowed us to prevent terrorist attacks against the United States. I did not talk about specific techniques and won't. I didn't say anything about waterboarding ... (the interviewer) didn't even use that phrase."
Spoken like a lawyer. What next? Quibbling about the meaning of "is"? (The cliché comes to mind, "When Clinton lied, nobody died.")
At his photo op, Bush said, "This country doesn't torture, we're not going to torture. We will interrogate people we pick up off the battlefield to determine whether or not they've got information that will be helpful to protect the country."
Snow, at a morning meeting with reporters, tried to brush off the controversy.
"You know as a matter of common sense that the vice president of the United States is not going to be talking about water boarding. Never would, never does, never will," Snow said. "You think Dick Cheney's going to slip up on something like this? No, come on."
Not a slip up. He knew what he was saying, clearly.
The White House refuses to list permitted techniques but said torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, mutilation or maiming and intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault among other techniques are prohibited.
The measure was in response to a US Supreme Court ruling in June that Bush had overstepped his powers and breached the Geneva Conventions by setting up special war crimes tribunals.
I marvel at how low these people have brought America.
"If he loses one house here, President Bush will enter the last two years very wounded," said David Gergen, a former White House adviser who served in the administrations of Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.
"He will have the capacity to say no to Democratic legislation, but he won't have the capacity to say yes to his own legislation," said Gergen, who teaches at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.
Democratic victories essentially could block Bush's remaining agenda and usher in a period of intense partisan bickering over nearly every measure to come before Congress.
As if there hasn't been intense partisan bickering since the Republicans took Congress in 1994. As if the Republicans didn't escalate that intense bickering to a new level by politicizing 9/11 and making support of the Bush Administrations military adventurism in Iraq a litmus test for patriotism itself. As if the Republicans haven't spent the last 12 years painting the Democrats with lying labels.
The Republicans broke bipartisan collegiality, and now they own the consequences.
Loss of either chamber also could subject his administration to endless congressional inquiries and investigations.
After the rubber-stamp Congress of the past six years, it's about time. If the Bush Administration had sought bi-partisan support of its agenda, maybe this would not be so imperative now.
"There's no question that the Republican coalition is stressed over the way Washington has been handling fiscal matters, the Foley affair, the
Iraq war," said GOP consultant Scott Reed. "All of these are coming together at the same time."
Note the spin here: Republican coalition ≠ Washington. Isn't that convenient. Never mind that the Republicans have called all the shots in Washington for six years now.
Bush, in his own get-out-the-vote appeal, told Republicans: "The consequences of not succeeding this fall are dire for our agenda for America."
A quagmire in Iraq. Torture. Record deficits screaming ever upward. Taliban on the rise in Afghanistan. Spying on Americans without warrants. Forced pregnancy and state-run breeding slavery laws. Attempting to block Plan B and the cervical cancer vaccine. Head-in-the-sand thinking on global warming. FEMA incompetence post-Katrina. Energy policies focused on the 20th century oil industry. No health insurance plan, corrupt education programs, Fortune50 pharmaceuticals-friendly Medicare drug benefits, removing bankruptcy protection for the poor and middle class, the K Street Project, tax cuts for silver-spoon heirs, attempts to gut Social Security (the one federal government program that actually turns a surplus every year), multi-billion-dollar sweetheart deals for Halliburton, leaking Valerie Plame's covert CIA status, Terri Schiavo, Mark Foley, Dennis Hastert, Tom Delay, Bob Ney, Mark Abramoff, Macaca Allen....
Yes, I am counting on "dire" consequences for the Republican agenda.
A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election-season debate over lobbyists' White House access.
While researching the access lobbyists and others had on the White House, The Washington Post asked in June for two years of White House visitor logs. The Secret Service refused to process the request, which government attorneys called "a fishing expedition into the most sensitive details of the vice presidency."
U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina said Wednesday that, by the end of next week, the Secret Service must produce the records or at least identity them and justify why they are being withheld.
The Secret Service can still try to withhold the records but, in a written ruling Thursday, Urbina questioned the agency's primary argument — that the logs are protected by Cheney's right to executive privilege.
Cheney has insisted that while he is working in the public's White House, taking taxpayer money, he can do pretty much what he wants in total secrecy, including have secret meetings with his corporate ruling class colleagues without having to even reveal who they are.
In other words, he wants to be like Vladimir Putin or Kim Jong Il -- the autarch who shall not be scrutinized.
The 537-page book describes tensions among senior officials from the very beginning of the administration. Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.
On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.
The main content of the book, however, focuses on the confusion and dissention within the Bush Administration regarding Iraq -- whether to attack, how to wage the war, how to characterize the resistance, how to win the war.
As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”
Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.
The question is when this president is going to accept responsibility for getting us into this war -- and responsibility for getting us out. "Stay the course" until he can pass off the problem to the next president is not a winning strategy.
"The notion somehow for eight months the Bush administration sat there and didn't do that is just flatly false - and I think the 9/11 commission understood that," Rice said during a wide-ranging meeting with Post editors and reporters.
This coming from the former National Security Advisor who pushed aside Richard Clarke, the in-house expert on al-Qaeda. This coming from the White House staffer who pretty much ignored the presidential briefing memo about Osama bin Laden's plans to strike within the U.S. This coming from a key player in the Bush Administration, which fought against even having a 9/11 Commission look into 9/11. They didn't want anyone looking into it.
"What we did in the eight months was at least as aggressive as what the Clinton administration did in the preceding years," Rice added.
She also whines about analyses by our own U.S. intelligence agencies that what the Bush Administration is doing is making things worse.
Transitioning to the global war on terror, an animated Rice questioned, "When are we going to stop blaming ourselves for the rise of terrorism?"
This is the perspective problem the entire Bush Administration seems to have: More concern about criticism of them, more concern about the political prospects of the GOP, more concern about spinning themselves into hero status, than any concern in actually doing something effective or at least making sure they're not just making things worse.
When, Condi? When you stop being a major cause of the rise of terrorism.
Asked about recently leaked internal U.S. intelligence estimates that claimed the Iraq war was fueling terrorist recruiting, Rice said: "Now that we're fighting back, of course they are fighting back, too."
"I find it just extraordinary that the argument is, all right, so they're using the fact they're being challenged in the Middle East and challenged in Iraq to recruit, therefore you've made the war on terrorism worse.
"It's as if we were in a good place on Sept. 11. Clearly, we weren't," she added.
Except, Condi, that the terrorists weren't even in Iraq until you and Bush invaded there. The terrorists were in Afghanistan.
Remember Afghanistan? That's the place where Osama has been, by many accounts, all this time. That's where al-Qaeda planned 9/11. That's where the Taliban government sheltered these terrorists.
We do not know what you have done, to prevent another 9/11.
You have failed us — then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.
You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.
And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.
And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture — which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.And there it is, sir:
Are yours the actions of a true American?
Here are some relevant videos via YouTube:
Clinton refuses to roll over for Chris Wallace on Fox
Olbermann on Clinton, and the Bush Administration's passing the buck