There are times when even the “No Drama Obama” White House has to stand up and strike back. And when the president’s spokesperson struck back against words labeling a Justice Dept. investigation poor politics, it was the right time to stand up and speak out.
On Fox News Sunday, former Vice President Dick Cheney claimed the Obama administration’s decision to look into allegations of CIA abuses and questions about torture was “an outrageous political act.”
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs responded Aug. 30 by saying the vice president “clearly had his facts on a number of things wrong.” Mr. Gibbs added, “I’m not entirely sure that Dick Cheney’s predictions on foreign policy have borne a whole lot of fruit over the last eight years in a way that has been either positive or, to the best of my recollection, very correct.”
The Justice Dept. is probing the possibility that the Bush administration violated laws and abused prisoners in its war against terror. A special prosecutor has been appointed to look into how detainees were treated. Information declassified the week before Gibbs’ statement revealed one prisoner was threatened with a drill and another was told his children would be killed if further attacks hit the U.S. There was also a kind of mock execution conducted to make one detainee think someone in a nearby cell had been shot.
Mr. Cheney said Attorney General Eric Holder’s decision to investigate the charges was a “terrible precedent.” “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 is going to say,” Mr. Cheney said.
It is amazing that after eight years of one of the worst administrations in history, two wars, and squandering billions of dollars that Mr. Cheney would even mention “outrageous,” “political,” and “act” in the same sentence. It was his administration that told over 900-politically motivated lies in the lead up to the war on Iraq. It was his administration that had government lawyers craft memos to allow what reasonable people agree was torture of prisoners. His administration apparently targeted attorneys general who did not move quickly enough, or at all, against targets deemed harmful to Republican interests. It was his administration that came into office with a determination to remake the Middle East and itching for an excursion in Iraq long before their lies about connections between the attacks Sept. 11, 2001 on the World Trade Center and late strongman and former U.S.-backed dictator Saddam Hussein.
Between Mr. Cheney and former Bush advisor Karl Rove, it is hard to imagine any political or politically-connected figures who were more politically-driven and calculating. Though Tom Ridge is backing away from it now–the former Homeland Security secretary has a book out that shares his feelings about how the Bush administration officials wanted him to raise the terror alert prior to 2004 presidential election.
If you looked up the phrase “political opportunist” in a dictionary, you might just find Mr. Cheney’s picture next to it. It’s time for fear mongering and bullying–two favorite tactics from the Bush II era–to end. Someone needs to stand up and confront those who twist the truth to fit their purposes and journalists and Democrats have been much too timid. Manipulating the truth and pushing emotional buttons has brought this country to the brink of ruin and those responsible shouldn’t be allowed to rewrite history.