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Dick Cheney slams Obama on torture. Is the ex-VP becoming the new Jimmy Carter?

There used to be an axiom in presidential history: Don't slam your successor, at least in public.

OK, so former President Carter has been the exception that proves the rule. The Georgia peanut farmer made a habit of criticizing both Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush while they were in office.

And it's true that Al Gore, the Clinton vice president many supporters believe won the 2000 election, regularly attacked the Bush administration for its climate change and terrorism policies, winning a 2007 Nobel Peace Prize along the way.

Still, it seems unlikely that the Nobel Committee, known for its liberal proclivities, would award anything to Dick Cheney, known in some quarters as the Darth Vader of American politics.

So what's the former vice president up to?

First, back in March, Cheney criticized President Obama for ending military trials for suspected terrorists, working to close the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and ordering CIA interrogators to abide by the U.S. Army Field Manual's regulations for treatment of detainees -- no more waterboarding.

Cheney's comment: Americans are less safe.

Then, this week, after the Obama administration released legal documents showing how the Bush White House made the case for torture, Cheney hit the Fox TV circuit again, arguing that the interrogation methods were "enormously valuable" in thwarting terrorist attacks.

Maybe the former vice president is just trying to protect his legacy as the father of the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies.

Or maybe former President George W. Bush authorized Cheney's avalanche of criticism to shield his own reputation as the commander in chief who took us to war in Iraq.

Either way, it's of note that with Democrats running the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives, Cheney -- a 68-year-old former vice president with a long resume of top Republican political jobs from Gerald R. Ford's White House chief of staff to President George H.W. Bush's Pentagon secretary -- would emerge as the Republicans' primary public face.

-- Johanna Neuman

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Comments () | Archives (7)

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obviously maneuvering for the party leadership. Not exactly what I was hoping for, but that's a major step forward from rush limbaugh.

I have always been less safe with Dick Cheney.

Cheney is justified in challenging Obama on this. If you are going to open up sensitive documents to the public on the interrogation process, threaten to prosecute the attorneys who created the documents and bad mouth the prior administration you have to expect to be challenged.

Simply opening up the documents for display was the height of arrogance. We are at war and these actions relate to the prosecution of that war. Releasing the document sonly served Obamas interests. He could simply have kept them closed and told us what his position on interrogation was.

The minute he opened the door Cheney or someone else has to beg the question of what fruit did the interrogations bear. You can't call them useless and then not expect someoene to challenge that.

Obama's new euphemism for terrorist: " Friends that we haven't met yet!"

We are much less safe in light of the new administrations stance on the war on terror. I'll still refer to it as such. I would much rather have a darth vader on my side than only on the bad guys side. If it were President Clinton or Obama who followed these practices to begin with we would not be having this discussion. Bush hatred continues even with him out of the White House. The GH-4 Effect

What troubles me more than Dick Cheney is Sean Hannity. Is he conducting an interview or leading a witness? His questions are more like criticisms than genuine queries.

Americans are less safe today! Gee, and whose fault is that?

Maybe if the Dark Prince cared more about justice and avenging 9-11 in Afghanistan instead of big fat war profits and contracts for Haliburton in Iraq we wouldn't have Bush legacy we have!

If the Liar(Bush), the Witch(Rice) and the Warmonger (The Dark Prince) were convincing liars as Clinton was, the Iraq War would have been our Allies Quagmire years ago.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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