No More Air Time for the Cheneys

In what ABC is touting as a “rare” Sunday appearance, former Vice President Cheney will sit down for an interview on “This Week” this coming Sunday. Sunday must be the only day Mr. Cheney hasn’t been on television recently. Just how rare are his forays into the media? So rare that John Stewart ran a segment last May pointing out that, “In the last few months, former Howard Hughes-like Vice President Richard Cheney had been on television so much you’d think he was promoting a new sitcom.” And Greg Sargent has noted that Republican elected leaders are increasingly frustrated that the former Vice President has stolen the spotlight away from them. That Mr. Cheney has decided to break from tradition and seek the limelight after his time in the Old Executive Office Building came to an end wouldn’t be such a problem if we didn’t already know what he was going to say. On Sunday, you can expect to hear: That Bush Administration policies, including the use of torture abusive interrogation techniques, made America safer; That legal and effective approaches to counterterrorism, including the decision to try Khalid Sheik Mohammed in the tried-and-true federal courts, and to interrogate the Christmas bomber non-coercively are somehow radical. Sadly, his misinformation is having a measurable impact on the debate around these issues. As TPM has pointed out, the hysteria around the decision to read Miranda rights to the Christmas bomber only took hold after Mr. Cheney and Tom Ridge took to the microphones to claim that this had been a mistake. Of course, we now know that Abdulmutallab has been cooperating and offering actionable intelligence due to (and not in spite of) his treatment in the criminal justice system. But I’m not holding my breath expecting that we’ll hear an admission of error from Mr. Cheney on Sunday. In fact, spreading panic seems to be the new family business. Mr. Cheney’s daughter, Liz Cheney, has gotten into the act, spearheading a well-funded effort to fear monger on these issues while defending the legacy of her father. The real question is: why aren’t we hearing more from people with real credentials on this? National security experts, experienced interrogators, and former prosecutors have all supported policies that promote the rule of law as the hallmark of effective counterterrorism strategy. Why aren’t we hearing more from them and less from the Cheneys? Could it be that reasoned, sane voices don’t make for good TV ratings? If you agree that the Cheneys have gotten enough air time, join us on Facebook here.

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Published on February 12, 2010

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