How Low Can We Go? Cheney Attacked By Both Imus And Alter This Morning

Monday, on "Imus in the Morning" guest Jonathan Alter of Newsweek magazine claimed Vice President Cheney has a "toxic combination of arrogance and incompetence," leading Mr. Imus to compare the Vice President to...the BTK killer.

Alter continued his ongoing diatribe against the administration, implying that the administration is un-American for wanting defined rules of interrogation for terror suspects, rather than a broad statement banning anything that "offends the decency of mankind" that is open to broad interpretation and could lead to interrogators later being accused of war crimes. Alter framed the debate as a debate between "heroic" figures like Senators John McCain, John Warner, and Lindsey Graham who want to limit interrogation tactics to our "American values," and the "chicken hawks" in the administration who allegedly favor torture.

In describing the Vice President, Jonathan Alter asserted:

"Everybody knows somebody like Cheney in their office or come in to contact with some point in their life. Some guy who looks really competent, he sounds really competent, sounds full of gravitas, sounds like he knows exactly what your company should be doing with its strategic plan, and then you find out when you work with him every day that he's reckless and incompetent and manages to have kind of this toxic combination of arrogance and incompetence. And, we all know somebody like that."

To which Imus made the comparison:

"Yeah, he's a BTK killer. You know, he’s a guy going around, tidying up your yard and delivering the mail, or whatever the hell he was doing, well you find out later he was chopping people up and putting them in the cars or the fridge or whatever. That's a good analogy, right?"

Following this, Imus turned the attention to the treatment of terrors suspects in US custody:

"Do you understand this torture debate? What's that about?"

Alter opined that the debate is about America and the American way of life:

"Well I think it's about John McCain and the others said, it’s about fundamental American values, it’s whether we believe in the American way or not. And I think it's. I was thinking it was heroic that McCain and Warner and Graham have stood up this way, but really it was just the American thing to do…"

Alter continued, and brought up the "chicken hawk issue" and noting he doesn’t see how the administration can win the debate:

"George Allen, on the other side, didn't serve. So this old sort of Chicken hawk issue, that we have, you know, going back 25 years at least in this country, where those who didn't serve in Vietnam were often much more hawkish than those who did. We now see it dividing the Republican Party. It used to be something that you’d see these Democrats, like Bob Kerrey who had served, where the issue would come up. And now within the Republican Party you have a difference of experience that is coming in to form our politics, I think is not going to work out for this president, and I don't see how he ends up winning this debate."

Alter is not the only "Newsweek" employee complaining about the administration’s stand on interrogation. On Sunday’s McLaughlin group, Eleanor Clift accused the administration of lobbying for torture and asserted that they need lessons in American government:

"The people who know war and understand war are on the right side on this. And frankly if we're gonna go mano a mano between President Bush and John McCain, this is John McCain’s to win, just as he did on the torture amendment earlier this year. I can't believe a vice-president and a president that rarely go to Capitol Hill and they go up there to lobby on behalf of torture. We live in a land of democracy, and they need some reminding."

It would seem "Newsweek" is consistent in its disdain for the administration, but is denying interrogators set parameters for questioning terrorism suspects really in the national interest?