Vice President to CNN’s Blitzer on Bush Blunders: Your Question Is ‘Hogwash’

Vice President Dick Cheney squared off with CNN host Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday in a contentious, multi-part "Situation Room" interview. Blitzer seemed to openly adopt the mantra and talking points of the Democratic Party. In fact, in a tease for the interview, Blitzer promised, "The Vice President takes on his critics, including me." Cheney, whose wife Lynne aggressively sparred the cable anchor back in November, told Blitzer that a question about administration blunders was "hogwash." Elaborating on a clip of Democratic Senator Jim Webb, the "Situation Room" host asked Cheney about Bush failures:

Wolf Blitzer: "And it’s not just Jim Webb. It’s some of your good Republican friends in the Senate and in the House are now seriously questioning your credibility because of the blunders, of the failures. Gordon Smith– Gordon Smith--"

Dick Cheney: "Wolf. Wolf. I simply don’t accept the premise of your question. I just think it’s hogwash."

Blitzer: "That what? That there were no blunders? The President himself says there were blunders."

Cheney: "Remember me– Remember with me what happened in Afghanistan. The United States was actively involved in Afghanistan in the ‘80s, supporting the effort against the Soviets. The Mujahideen prevailed and everybody walked away. And in Afghanistan with in relatively short order, the Taliban came to power. They created a safe haven for al Qaeda. Training camps were established where some 20,000 terrorists trained in the late ‘90s. And out of that– Out of Afghanistan, because we walked away and ignored it, we had the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the embassies in East Africa and 9/11 where the people trained and planned in Afghanistan for that attack and killed 3,000 Americans. That is what happens when we walk away from a situation like that in the Middle East."

A transcript of the tease and the segment, airing at 4:42 pm, follows:

4:31pm (tease)

Wolf Blitzer "The Vice President takes on his critics, including me."

4:43pm

Wolf Blitzer: "Let’s return now to my exclusive interview with the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney. We pick up with Iraq once again and the Democratic and Republican criticism of the administration’s war policy and plans for a U.S. troop build up. [Taped interview begins] Here is what Jim Webb, the Senator from Virginia said in his Democratic response last night."

Jim Webb: "The President took us into this war recklessly. We are now as a nation held hostage to the predictable, and predicted, disarray that has followed."

Blitzer: "And it’s not just Jim Webb. It’s some of your good Republican friends in the Senate and in the House are now seriously questioning your credibility because of the blunders, of the failures. Gordon Smith. Gordon Smith."

Dick Cheney: "Wolf. Wolf. I simply don’t accept the premise of your question. I just think it’s hogwash."

Blitzer: "That what? That there were no blunders? The President himself says there were blunders."

Cheney: "Remember me. Remember with me what happened in Afghanistan. The United States was actively involved in Afghanistan in the ‘80s, supporting the effort against the Soviets. The Mujahideen prevailed and everybody walked away. And in Afghanistan with in relatively short order, the Taliban came to power. They created a safe haven for al Qaeda. Training camps were established where some 20,000 terrorists trained in the late ‘90s. And out of that– Out of Afghanistan because we walked away and ignored it, we had the attack on the USS Cole, the attack on the embassies in East Africa and 9/11 where the people trained and planned in Afghanistan for that attack and killed 3,000 Americans. That is what happens when we walk away from a situation like that in the Middle East."

Blitzer: "But there were– But there were blunders--"

Cheney: "We might have been– We might have been able to do that before 9/11. But after 9/11, we learned that we have a vested interest in what happens on the ground in the Middle East. Now, if you are going to walk away from Iraq today and say, ‘Well, gee, it's too tough, We can't complete the task, we just are going to quit,’ you'll create exactly that same kind of situation again. Now, the critics have not suggested a policy. They haven't put anything in place. All they want to do, all they’ve recommended is to redeploy or withdraw our forces. The fact is, we can complete the task in Iraq. We're going to do it. We've got Petraeus, General Petraeus taking over. It is a good strategy. It will work. But we have to have the stomach to finish the task."

Blitzer: "What if the Senate pass a resolution saying this is not a good idea. Will that stop you?"

Cheney: "It won't stop us and it would be, I think, detrimental from the standpoint of the troops. As General Petraeus said yesterday, he was asked by Joe Lieberman, among others, in his testimony about this notion that somehow the Senate could vote overwhelmingly for him, send him on his new assignment and then pass a resolution at the same time and say but we don't agree with the mission you've been given."

Blitzer: "So, you're moving forward no matter what the Congress does."

Cheney: "We are moving forward. We are moving forward. The Congress has control over the purse strings. They have the right, obviously, if they want, to cut off funding. But in terms of this effort, the President's made his decision, we've consulted extensively with them. We'll continue to consult with the Congress. The fact of the matter is, we need to get the job done. I think General Petraeus can do it, I think our troops can do it, and I think it's far too soon for the talking heads on television to conclude that it's impossible to do; it's not going to work, it can't possibly succeed."

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org