Cheney is unapologetic in memoir

Former vice president Dick Cheney Former vice president Dick Cheney
By Karen DeYoung and Scott Wilson
Washington Post / August 29, 2011

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WASHINGTON - Former vice president Dick Cheney provides an unapologetic defense of President George W. Bush’s administration in his memoir to be released tomorrow, including explanations of his own decisions about contested national security and domestic policies that often come at the expense of former Cabinet members and colleagues.

Those include the justification to invade Iraq in 2003, a judgment he blames on CIA failures.

Although he praises Bush for his leadership and many of his decisions, Cheney says he warned the president that nominating then-White House counsel Harriet E. Miers to the Supreme Court would be “a tough sell.’’ Bush eventually withdrew Miers amid questions about her qualifications.

“The president later said he was sorry he had put his friend through such a meat grinder,’’ Cheney writes in “In My Time,’’ a copy of which was obtained by The Washington Post.

Cheney’s “personal and political memoir,’’ as he describes it, confirms the central role he played in the eight tumultuous years of the previous administration. He notes that “from the transition onward, there were media stories that I was somehow in charge,’’ echoing accounts of his time in office that portray him as one of the nation’s most powerful vice presidents.

“They weren’t true,’’ Cheney adds. “And stepping out too publicly would only have fed them.’’

But at times, he belies that claim with details that suggest Bush relied on his opinion.

For example, Cheney writes that he received his daily intelligence briefing at 6:30 a.m., then attended the president’s briefing a few hours later.

“If I was traveling or at an undisclosed location, the president would often be briefed in the White House Situation Room, so I could join by secure videoconference,’’ Cheney writes.

The memoir unfolds largely chronologically, although it is dominated by the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and Cheney’s role in the construction of the intelligence and national security framework to manage the aftermath.

Cheney sheds little new light on the development of some of the more controversial national security policies, and he echoes his previous criticism of President Obama’s effort to end harsh interrogation tactics and close the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Cheney defends the use of such interrogation methods on suspected terrorists, practices human rights groups and other nations have called torture, and the National Security Agency’s former program of eavesdropping on communications from the United States.

“The Terrorist Surveillance Program is, in my opinion, one of the most important success stories in the history of American intelligence,’’ he writes. “If I had to do it all over again, I would, in a heartbeat.’’

Although he offers sympathy for the “difficult’’ task of intelligence agencies, Cheney lays the blame squarely on them for the administration’s claims about weapons in Iraq, writing that “the intelligence that Saddam had stockpiles of WMD was wrong.’’

Although they served amiably together in the administration of George H. W. Bush and jointly managed the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Cheney’s relationship with Colin L. Powell, who was secretary of state, quickly disintegrated under George W. Bush. Powell faults Cheney for much of what he thinks went wrong, and Cheney returns the favor. top stories on Twitter

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