Olbermann: Time for ‘Dick’ Cheney to ‘Shove It’ & ‘Leave This Country’

Now that America has a liberal President, it is apparently no longer acceptable for a private citizen to express disagreement with the White House in Keith Olbermann’s world. On Thursday’s Countdown show, MSNBC host Olbermann delivered his latest "Special Comment" rant, this time calling for former Vice President Cheney to "leave this country," and made a suggestion that Cheney, who recently criticized President Obama’s plans for handling counterterrorism, should somehow be "made to desist" from such criticism. Olbermann: "You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist."

The Countdown host, who never showed any concern that his tirades against the Bush administration would "undermine" the war on terrorism, accused Cheney of "trying to sabotage" Obama’s "efforts against terrorism," and made a number of vulgar implications in attacking Cheney – including twice pronouncing the former Vice President’s first name with emphasis as if to call him by a vulgar word; saying that he would tell Cheney to "shove it"; and asking which "orifice" Cheney was pulling numbers from about the recidivism rate of former Guantanamo detainees.

As if the MSNBC host had a history of restraining himself when he disagreed with Cheney while the former Vice President was still in office, Olbermann teased Thursday’s show: "When he was in office, we kind of had to take this from him. He is in office no longer, so we don’t. He has caused far more terror in this country in the last seven years than any terrorist."

After several plugs, during which he claimed that "his [Cheney’s] policies contributed to the worst attack ever on American soil," and said he would tell Cheney to "shove it," Olbermann began his "Special Comment":

Flatly, it may be time for Mr. Cheney to leave this country. The partisanship, divisiveness, and naiviete to which he ascribed every single criticism of his and President Bush’s delusional policies of the last eight years have now roared forth in a destructive and uninformed diatribe from Mr. Cheney that can only serve to undermine the nation’s new President, undermine the nation’s effort to thwart terrorism and undermine the nation itself.

The MSNBC host soon read a quote from Cheney’s interview remarking that "When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry." Olbermann shot back: "More concern, Mr. Cheney? What delusion of grandeur makes you think you have the right to say anything like that?"

Audio of Cheney’s comments can be found here.

Olbermann’s suggestions that Cheney should be forced to "desist" from criticizing Barack Obama, that we "don’t have to take this from him" since he’s a private citizen now, or that Cheney does not have a "right" to make certain criticisms of Obama, are especially noteworthy because they contradict Olbermann’s history of making over-the-top claims that the Bush administration was attacking the right to express dissent.

On September 15, 2006, in one of his "Special Comment" diatribes, Olbermann took an awkwardly worded, off-the-cuff declaration by President Bush that it was "unacceptable to think" the actions of America could be compared to those of terrorists, and blew it out of proportion as if the comment were an attack on the right to think, and therefore a grave threat to democracy. The Countdown host called the President’s words "chilling": "'It's unacceptable to think.' Sounds like something straight out of George Orwell's 1984. Instead, it was something straight out of George Bush's mouth. ... And not only issuing those chilling words, 'It's unacceptable to think,' but doing so in answer to the call to conscience from his own former Secretary of State, Colin Powell."

For more details, go to the September 18, 2006, CyberAlert posting: "Olbermann Blasts 'Orwellian' Bush for 'Telling Us What to Think.'"

A few days later, on September 18, 2006, Olbermann again referred to Bush’s "unacceptable to think" comments, making the President’s statement out to be a threat to America’s freedom: "And when a President says thinking is unacceptable, even on one topic, even in the heat of the moment, even in the turning of a phrase extracted from its context, he takes us toward a new and fearful path, one heretofore the realm of science fiction authors and apocalyptic visionaries. That flash of lightning freezes at the distant horizon, and we can just make out a world in which authority can actually suggest it has become unacceptable to think."

For more details, go to the September 19, 2006, CyberAlert posting: "Olbermann: Bush Like Angry 3-Year-Old and Should Apologize."

Olbermann’s suggestion that Cheney be "made to desist" is also reminiscent of his November 1, 2006, "Special Comment" in which the Countdown host blamed President Bush for inspiring acts of "domestic terrorism" against critics, a la King Henry and Archbishop Thomas Becket, and made a comparison between Bush supporters attacking the President's opponents and the 1856 caning of anti-slavery Senator Charles Sumner by pro-slavery Congressman Preston Brooks. Olbermann, addressing Bush: "You instructed no one to mail the fake Anthrax [received by Olbermann], nor undermine the FBI's case, nor call for the execution of the editors of the New York Times, nor threaten to assassinate Stephanie Miller, nor beat up a man yelling at Senator George Allen, nor have the First Lady knife Michael J. Fox, nor tell John McCain to lie about John Kerry. No, you did not, sir. And the genius of the thing is the same as in King Henry's rhetorical question about Archbishop Thomas Becket: 'Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?' All you have to do, sir, is hand out enough new canes."

For more details, go to the November 1, 2006, CyberAlert posting: "Olbermann Links Bush to Caning of Sumner and to Domestic Terrorism."

Returning to the Thursday, February 5, show, the MSNBC host also alluded to his recently expressed theory that those former Guantanamo detainees who committed terrorist acts after their release may have been innocent when they were captured, but converted to terrorism because of mistreatment in captivity by the Bush administration. Olbermann: "Of course, Mr. Cheney, it is also possible, impossible, rather, to prove that any of those released detainees actually were terrorists before we captured them because you never presented any evidence against them, sir, and they were released."

For more details on Olbermann’s theory, presented on the January 26, 2009, Coundown show, that a former Guantanamo detainee was inspired to become an al-Qaeda leader because of mistreatment at Guantanamo, go to the January 27, 2009, CyberAlert posting "Olbermann: Gitmo Inspired Innocent Ex-Detainee to Go Terrorist."

Also of note, Olbermann at one point accused the Bush administration of treating Gitmo detainees with brutality similar to al-Qaeda or the Iranian government, mocking the Bush administration as "saving this nation from the terrorists by doing the terrorists’ work for them."

But his linking of Iran to brutality and terrorism is ironic because the Countdown host has in the past suggested that such accusations against Iran are only made up. On September 28, 2007, in his "Worst Person" segment, Olbermann mocked those who believed there to be brutality committed against Iranian citizens as he highlighted a photograph from a movie of a female character being partially buried alive before being stoned, which David Horowitz and other conservative activists had mistakenly believed was a photograph taken from an actual execution, as the MSNBC host labeled Horowitz as "Worst Person in the World."

Olbermann seemed to suggest that because the photograph was taken from a movie, similar atrocities do not actually happen in Iran, and attacked conservatives who try to expose human rights abuses in the repressive nation: "Let`s keep spending billions of dollars to stoke up religious hatred and send our kids to their deaths on the battlefield so we can prevent Dutch actresses from having to do scenes in which their characters are buried alive in a movie. Right-wing water carrier David, ‘I saw it in the movies, it must be real,’ Horowitz, today`s 'Worst Person in the World'!"

Olbermann notably has made an impression in the Iranian media, as Press TV – an Iranian-funded news channel – quoted from one of his Special Comments in February 2008 after the MSNBC host called President Bush a "liar" and a "fascist," and claimed that Bush was guilty of "terrorism." The online Press TV article quoting Olbermann’s attacks on Bush can be found here.

Back to the February 5 show, the Countdown host also blamed inaction by the Bush administration for the 9/11 attacks as he accused Cheney of not reading the now-famous Presidential Daily Briefing (PDB) from August 6, 2001, because he was too busy "stalking" Saddam Hussein, as if the former Iraqi dictator were a victim of the Bush administration. Referring to Ahmed Ressam, who was convicted of the Millennium bomb plot, Olbermann lambasted Cheney:

Oh, but he [Ressam] did cooperate long enough to tell his prosecutors who didn’t beat the hell out of him about al-Qaeda cells in this country. That was his info they stuck in the President’s Daily President’s Briefing August 6, 2001. That’s probably news to you since, obviously, you and Mr. Bush did not read it – stalking Saddam Hussein, as you were. Of course, none of that mattered to Mr. Cheney just as none of this matters to Mr. Cheney because, at heart, Mr. Cheney is not interested foremost in protecting this country. He is interested foremost in protecting Mr. Cheney and the business of being Dick Cheney, of rationalizing one’s own existence after one of the most reprehensible, myopic, unprincipled, and even un-American careers in the history of our government, depends on continuing to convince the gullible among us to live in abject fear and not with vigilance and common sense and principles.

But, as recounted in the April 12, 2004, CyberAlert, former Republican Governor James Thompson of Illinois, a member of the September 11th Commission, dismissed the PDB’s relevance to the 9/11 attacks in an interview on the April 10, 2004, CNN Saturday Night with anchor Carol Lin. Thompson contended that much of what was in the report "relates to things that were three years old," and pointed out that the "suspicious activity in New York with people surveilling federal buildings" turned out to be tourists from Yemen. Thompson saw the report as not having "anything to do with September 11."

For more details, see the April 12, 2004, CyberAlert posting: "Some Outlets Distort and Exaggerate Meaning of August 2001 Memo."

Returning to Thursday’s "Special Comment," as he invoked Oliver Cromwell’s fight against the English parliament – not British, as Olbermann incorrectly claimed, as Scotland and England did not join into the Kingdom of Great Britain until 1707 – that "attempted to govern after its term had expired," Olbermann concluded:

More than 400 years ago, when a British parliament attempted to govern after its term had expired, it was dispersed by the actions and the words of Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately," he told them, exactly as, Mr. Cheney, exactly as this nation now tells you. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! Good night and good luck.

Below is a complete transcript of Olbermann’s "Special Comment" from the Thursday, February 5, Countdown show on MSNBC, with critical portions in bold:

KEITH OLBERMANN, IN OPENING TEASER: And tonight, former Vice President Dick Cheney on the prospects of future terrorism here. When he was in office, we kind of had to take this from him. He is in office no longer, so we don’t. He has caused far more terror in this country in the last seven years than any terrorist. Tonight’s "Special Comment."

...

OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:14 P.M.: And when people dared to criticize the counterterrorism policies he and his President advocated, he branded them naive, Nazi appeasers, un-American, divisive, uninformed, words that can’t be repeated on TV, even though his policies contributed to the worst attack ever on American soil. Now, Dick Cheney with his own attack on America, blindly lashing out at a new administration’s counterterrorism policies, a new administration in only its seventeenth day. Tonight, a "Special Comment." We’ve heard enough from you – Dick. [SPOKEN WITH EMPHASIS ON "DICK"]

...

OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:15 P.M.: And he’s a private citizen now, so there is no reason for anybody to take the nonsense Dick Cheney hands out about counterterrorism without telling him where to shove it, which we will do tonight in a "Special Comment."

...

OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:29 P.M.: And he helped ruin the last eight years in this country. What kind of American is Dick Cheney to try to sabotage a new administration’s efforts against terrorism when that new administration is not yet three weeks old? Tonight, a "Special Comment."

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OLBERMANN, BEFORE COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:39 P.M.: Gone but refusing to be forgotten, Dick Cheney rationalizes his administration’s failures in counterterrorism by predicting mayhem if his policies of repression, brutality and lying are not continued by this President. My "Special Comment" tonight.

...

OLBERMANN, DURING COMMERCIAL BREAK AT 8:41 P.M.: Dick Cheney rightly attacked tonight by Democrats protesting his paranoia and his presumptuousness in attacking the Obama approach to counterterror just 17 days into a new administration when he and George Bush failed so utterly eight months into theirs. Tonight, a "Special Comment" on Mr. Cheney’s tone deaf comments.

...

OLBERMANN, AT 8:49 P.M.: Finally tonight, as promised, a "Special Comment" on former Vice President Cheney’s remarks about the prospects of future terrorist attacks in this country.

Flatly, it may be time for Mr. Cheney to leave this country. The partisanship, divisiveness, and naiviete to which he ascribed every single criticism of his and President Bush’s delusional policies of the last eight years have now roared forth in a destructive and uninformed diatribe from Mr. Cheney that can only serve to undermine the nation’s new President, undermine the nation’s effort to thwart terrorism and undermine the nation itself. Mr. Cheney’s remarks were posted yesterday at Politico.com. They are a reiteration of all the manias of his vice presidency. Only they now come without the authority of office.

They insist, he insists on the imminence of attack, of the maintenance of Gitmo, of the necessity of waterboarding, of the efficacy of torture.

Time does not stale nor custom wither your infinite variety, Mr. Cheney. You will say it and be wrong, and you will still say it anew. You will say it and undercut a President’s 17 days on the job, and you will still say it anew. You will say it and help terrorists and you will still say it anew.

"The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes."

The first glimmer in years of sanity in any of your remarks, sir. That’s not at all what the Obama administration appears to believe. It seems to be ready to use all avenues and all emotions, seeking love, respect, fear, diplomacy, shared experience, education, principle, and, yes, even rational thought. This President, unlike yours, Mr. Cheney, seems intent on living in the real world rather than trying to reshape an imaginary one by force.

"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry."

More concern, Mr. Cheney? What delusion of grandeur makes you think you have the right to say anything like that? Because a President or an ordinary American demands that we act as Americans and not as bullies, demands that we play by our rules, that we preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. You believe we have chosen the one and not the other. We can be Americans, or we can be what you call "safe," but not both.

"If it hadn’t been for what we did – with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth – then we would have been attacked again. Those policies we put in place, in my opinion, were absolutely crucial to getting us through the last seven-plus years without a major-casualty attack on the U.S."

Mr. Cheney, you’re lying. As the cloud of fear you deliberately fostered in this good-hearted and courageous nation finally begins to dissipate, the nonsense that you and Mr. Bush presented as evidence of that childish claim, as perverse example of wishful nightmare thinking has become apparent, and it should shame you. The major casualty attacks on the U.S. you think you stopped involved would-be hijackers who were under constant surveillance by at least two nations and had neither passports nor plane tickets. They involved feeble-minded braggarts, so clueless as to even the most obvious steps of organization that they believed they could enter Fort Dix in New Jersey disguised as pizza deliverymen, kill hordes of Americans, and get out alive, even though Fort Dix teems with soldiers who have an almost inexhaustible supply of weapons. They involved embittered ex-airport employees so uninformed about where they used to work that they thought dropping a match in a fuel supply line 30 miles away would cause the airport to explode.

These are the plots that, by your own proud, strutting, crazy admissions, were the ones you got us through. You and Mr. Bush, sir, you are the old men who cried wolf.

The Politico story continues: "Citing intelligence reports, Cheney said at least 61 of the inmates who were released from Guantanamo during the Bush administration – "that’s about 11 or 12 percent" – have "gone back into the business of being terrorists."

Mr. Cheney, you made this statistic up. Perhaps not you personally, but your people made this statistic up. As the new reality-based administration has discovered, there are not enough records of the detainees still at Gitmo to suggest that there is any reliable database on those who have been released. That McCarthy-esque number, sir, is also as fluid as the infamous Senator’s was.

As Professor Mark Denbeaux of Seton Hall University noted on this network last month:

"The government has given its 43rd attempt to describe the number of people who have left Guantanamo and returned to the battlefield. Forty-one times they have done it orally as they have this last time. And their numbers have changed from 20 to 12 to seven to more than five to two to a couple to a few – 25, 29, 12 to 24. Every time, the number has been different. In fact, every time they give a number, they don’t identify a date, a place, a time, a name or an incident to support their claim."

Mr. Cheney, which orifice are you pulling these numbers from? You know, in the movie, The Manchurian Candidate, the character based loosely on Joe McCarthy had trouble remembering all the different numbers. His Lady MacBeth-like wife pointed out to him that the reason she kept changing the number of purported communists in the State Department was so that people would no longer be asking, "Are there communists in the State Department?" but would begin only asking, "How many communists are there?" Eventually, she picked one number that her husband could remember – 57. She found it on the bottle of catsup on the room service tray.

Of course, Mr. Cheney, it is also possible, impossible, rather, to prove that any of those released detainees actually were terrorists before we captured them because you never presented any evidence against them, sir, and they were released. Which makes something else you said seem almost the product of a split personality:

"If you release the hard-core al-Qaeda terrorists that are held at Guantanamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass-casualty attacks. If you turn’em loose and they go kill more Americans, who’s responsible for that?"

Well, right now, that’d be you and Mr. Bush. You released those supposed repeat terrorists – all 61 of them – or 12. You. If Gitmo really worked so well and you really had the devils in the cage, why did you release them without trial, without any second effort at proving their guilt? You just released them. If you turn them loose and they go kill more Americans, who’s responsible for that – Dick? And six years and more since General Powell and Dr. Rice and all the rest played the trump card of terrorizing this nation, the mighty cream of mushroom cloud soup, you played it again – nuclear weapon, biological agent, deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands.

"I think there’s a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States."

The Bush system, as John Yu so aptly re-christened the other day, start the wrong war, detain the wrong people, employ the wrong methods, pursue the wrong leads, utilize the wrong emotions, beat’em up first, ask questions later. You know, just like al-Qaeda does, or Iran. Save this nation from the terrorists by doing the terrorists’ work for them, Mr. Cheney. To your credit, sir, you have added a new monster under a new bed to try to continue to foment a national policy of panic. It’s the terrorists on our streets ploy.

"Is that really a good idea to take hardened al-Qaeda terrorists who’ve already killed thousands of Americans and put’em in San Quentin or some other prison facility where they can spread their venom even more widely than it already is?"

As opposed to keeping them in an extra-legal facility mixed in with some unknown number of innocents mistaken for terrorists. Who’s likely to be more influenced by terrorist venom, Mr. Cheney, the characters from the TV series Oz? Or a bunch of guys who we’re holding in chains without trial and without even some token attempt at rehabilitation.

And, by the way, what about Ahmed Ressam, sir? Benny Norris, if you prefer? The Millennium bomber, caught at a ferry crossing from Canada to Washington state, in December 1999, on his way to go blow up Los Angeles International Airport. He had a car, a legit passport, nitroglycerine and timing devices.

And what did we do to him, Mr. Cheney? Did we send him to Gitmo or pre-Gitmo? As high a value terrorist as we’ve ever caught in this country, trained by Abu Zubaydah, days away from his target, and ready to go. We tried him in U.S. courts with U.S. lawyers. Part of the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and he got 22 years in U.S. prison. No torture, no gulag, no stories of him proselytizing fellow prisoners. Oh, but he did cooperate long enough to tell his prosecutors who didn’t beat the hell out of him about al-Qaeda cells in this country. That was his info they stuck in the President’s Daily President’s Briefing August 6, 2001. That’s probably news to you since, obviously, you and Mr. Bush did not read it – stalking Saddam Hussein, as you were. Of course, none of that mattered to Mr. Cheney just as none of this matters to Mr. Cheney because, at heart, Mr. Cheney is not interested foremost in protecting this country. He is interested foremost in protecting Mr. Cheney and the business of being Dick Cheney, of rationalizing one’s own existence after one of the most reprehensible, myopic, unprincipled, and even un-American careers in the history of our government, depends on continuing to convince the gullible among us to live in abject fear and not with vigilance and common sense and principles.

We, sir, will most completely assure our security not by maintaining the endless demoralizing, draining. life-denying blind fear and blind hatred, which you so thoroughly embody. We will most easily purchase our safety by repudiating the Bush system. We will reserve the violence for which you are so eager, sir, for any battlefield to which we truly must take and not for unconscionable wars which people like you goad and scare and lie us into. You, Mr. Cheney, you terrified more Americans than did any terrorist in the last seven years, and now it is time for you to desist, or to be made to desist. With damnable words like these, sir, you help no American, you protect no American, you serve no American. You only aid and abet those who would destroy this nation from within or without.

More than 400 years ago, when a British parliament attempted to govern after its term had expired, it was dispersed by the actions and the words of Oliver Cromwell: "You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately," he told them, exactly as, Mr. Cheney, exactly as this nation now tells you. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go! Good night and good luck.