By Reid Wilson - 08/30/09 09:47 AM EDT
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday called Democrats soft on national defense while standing up for his administration's actions in the war on terrorism.
In a pre-recorded interview with Fox News' Chris Wallace from his home in Wyoming, Cheney blasted the Obama administration for Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate harsh interrogation techniques. Holder said he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate whether criminal acts were committed.
Instead of investigating those who carried out waterboarding and other tough tactics, Cheney said the Obama administration ought to pursue a different approach.
"We had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from al Qaeda," Cheney said. "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?'"
Cheney called the investigation politicized and warned of the implications of investigating a previous administration.
"I think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage long term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions without having to worry about what the next administration's going to say about it," he said."
Meanwhile, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) defended the president, saying the administration had no intention to make scapegoats of the CIA.
"Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I'm not surprised that he is upset about this," Kerry said on ABC's This Week.
But as he works on his memoirs, Cheney hinted he disagreed with his boss, President George W. Bush, several times. Though he would not detail those disagreements, insiders have told several media outlets that the once-close relationship was strained nearly to the breaking point over the case of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Cheney's former chief of staff who was convicted of lying to a prosecutor.
And Cheney, whose reputation as a hawk is well-known, also hinted he would have gone farther in working to undermine the possibility of a nuclear Iran. Though he would not say the United States has made a mistake in not exercising military power, Cheney said the military option should be on the table.
"I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues," Cheney said.
In looking back at the war in Iraq, Cheney said he was hopeful for the country, though he would not say it will survive as a democracy.
Speaking to Wallace on Friday, a day before the late Sen. Ted Kennedy was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Cheney had kind personal words for the late Bay State Democrat, but said their divergent ideologies made it rare that they would work together.
"Personally, I liked him. In terms of policy there was very little we agreed on," Cheney said of Kennedy. "There wasn't much we had to work together on."