Sunday, August 30, 2009

The integer problem

Dick Cheney's interview on Fox News Sunday was fascinating. For one thing, confirming that we already knew -- that there was a crazy guy with huge influence on the President for eight years. And speaking of "eight years" --

CHENEY: ... I guess the other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly, Chris, is we had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from Al Qaeda. The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time? ...

WALLACE: If the prosecutor asks to speak to you, will you speak to him?

CHENEY: It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in. I've been very outspoken in my views on this matter. I've been very forthright publicly in talking about my involvement in these policies.

I'm very proud of what we did in terms of defending the nation for the last eight years successfully

Here's the thing. It's still not 8 years since 9/11. And it definitely wasn't 8 years since 9/11 when the Bush-Cheney presidency ended in January 2009. We've seen this problem before. The Bush-Cheney loyalists, and now clearly Cheney himself, assume that their term began on September 11, 2001. Because the nearly 8 months that they had prior to 9/11 would be the source of too much guilt if they ever actually thought about it. Or maybe they have, and the guilt has manifested itself as suppport for torture.

Speaking of which --

CHENEY: Chris, my sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks against the United States, and giving us the intelligence we needed to go find Al Qaeda, to find their camps, to find out how they were being financed. Those interrogations were involved in the arrest of nearly all the Al Qaeda members that we were able to bring to justice. I think they were directly responsible for the fact that for eight years, we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States.

It was good policy. It was properly carried out. It worked very, very well.

WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?


In other words, the law was completely absent in those interrogations. It's not clear that anything that could have happened would have been illegal, under Cheney's view of the "law".

Finally, we got an insight into Cheney's paranoia --

WALLACE: What do you miss?

CHENEY: Oh, I'm a junky, I guess, all those years. I spent more than 40 years in Washington, and enjoyed, obviously, the people I worked with, wrestling with some of the problems we had to wrestle with. I enjoyed having the CIA show up on my doorstep every morning, six days a week, with the latest intelligence.

He was a suit picking up the intelligence reports the way an ordinary person picks up the morning newspaper. It made him feel powerful. And, since these reports would by nature be filled with hints of plots, it made him crazy.

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