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Dick Cheney and Joe Biden converge

The stories today are about the veep brawl on the Sunday talks shows, but actually, I was more struck by the convergence of views and tone.

Former Vice President Cheney dispensed with the attack-dog snarl of recent months and praised President Obama’s decisions on Afghanistan -- and, for good measure, appeared to endorse a revision of the “don’t’ ask, don’t tell” policy for gays in the military. A hawkish Biden, meanwhile, came out swinging against the jihadists, claiming that “there has never been as much emphasis and resources brought against al-Qaeda.”

The headline writers found enough fodder for the dueling vice presidents theme, focusing on the disagreement about whether terrorist suspects such should be tried in civilian courts or treated as “enemy combatants” and interrogated and tried by the military. The video clips chosen by RealClearPolitics were: “Cheney: Obama administration is ‘dead wrong’ on terror,” and “Biden: Cheney is trying to ‘rewrite’ history.”

But even here, the actual disagreement is fuzzier: Cheney conceded Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” that the Bush administration had handled shoe bomber Richard Reid and scores of other terrorist suspects in civilian courts; and Biden on NBC’s “Meet the Press” retreated from the administration’s earlier plan to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court in New York and indicated that he might be tried by a military commission, as Cheney wants.

Treating national security as a continuing street-fight is wrong on two counts: It trivializes how complicated and difficult these problems are, a point that the de-fanged Cheney made well. And it understates the degree of consensus that has actually emerged on counter-terrorism policy. As Biden suggested, the last four years of the Bush administration mostly form a continuum with the Obama policies.

Let’s be honest: As much as it galls partisans on both sides, the fact is that Obama has adopted pretty much the same policies as his predecessor: He is following the timetable Bush negotiated for withdrawal from Iraq; he has surged troops in Afghanistan, he is fighting a proxy war in Yemen, and he has unleashed a veritable blitz of Hellfire missiles on al-Qaeda and Taliban sanctuaries in Pakistan.

Cheney lauded the stepped up Predator attacks, too. So we have both sides endorsing what is, in effect, a campaign of targeted assassination, albeit from 10,000 feet. Let’s remember that political consensus when questions arise, a few years hence, about the moral and legal propriety of this tactic.

By David Ignatius  | February 15, 2010; 11:39 AM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Comments

Mr. Ignatius hints at the equivalant of a moral wince concerning the propriety of using un-manned drones firing hellfire missles at KNOWN bad guys. He even alludes to far-off legal consequences.

Perhaps.

Or perhaps these remote-controlled missle attacks, while benefitting from actionable intelligence, is what will finally defeat our enemy.

A well-trained sniper on a modern battlefield is a terrible weapon to unleash. He sees you, you don't see him. The shot that kills you, you never hear.

The demoralizing nature of having one of your comrades DROP suddenly, dead before he hits the ground, causes others to reconsider their future.

Same thing with the airborne sniper, the Predator UAV.

If you're a bad guy, you NEVER know that there is missle with your name on it until it's close enough to read.

Posted by: joecairo | February 15, 2010 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Did Dick and Joe have a "beer summit" Sunday morning before their interviews?

Posted by: SoCal | February 15, 2010 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Ignatius says:

" So we have both sides endorsing what is, in effect, a campaign of targeted assassination, albeit from 10,000 feet.

Let’s remember that political consensus when questions arise, a few years hence, about the moral and legal propriety of this tactic"
________


As if those "questions" haven't been in play for years. It is a continuation of the illegal wars on civilians of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Collateral damage is murder, plain and simple. "Regrettable" slaughter should not be tolerated anywhere by anyone.

Posted by: forestbloggod | February 15, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

What I most object to in the position of Cheney and his followers, is the promotion of the position that we, in the US destroy ourselves, our legal and our political system, that we ignore history and legal precedents built over hundreds of years in this nation, and thousands in England, France, and our predecessors.

That instead we move step by step toward a system in the direction of martial law, and abrogation of fundamental constitutional rights and liberties, all justified, by PR for an adversary that we have done more to promote, than that adversary, ever had the ability to do itself.

Posted by: btmsp | February 15, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Would someone with a thorough knowledge of the Constitution be able to cite those clauses/amendments etc which allow the President to declare himself the judge, the jury and the executioner?
Wasn't the primary raison d'etre of the Constitution to separate these very powers?
And as the attendant innocent civilian deaths continue to increase, how long would we assuage our moral conscience with that hideous term "collateral damage?"

Posted by: Dibah | February 15, 2010 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Cheney, go home and count your money. The Illuminati have compensated you well for your allegiance to Satan.

Posted by: Aurellano | February 15, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Ignatius's focus on the partial convergence of Cheney's and Biden's views is well-taken. But there is an unfortunate derision implied in this statement: "Let’s remember that political consensus when questions arise, a few years hence, about the moral and legal propriety of this tactic." Questions that have been raised about the wholesale endorsement of torture as a general policy simply cannot be equated to any potential questions about the strategic use of drone missiles as a legitimate tactic of warfare.

Posted by: berniecasey | February 15, 2010 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The real story about the interview was Jonathan Karl. How about an actual TV journalist asking intelligent questions with great follow up? Karl was able to get Cheney to admit that there really is no difference in policy between Buah and Obama yet the media today is just covering a very narrow view of this interview. But this is typical...Karl was refreshing, especially in a media that seems nothing more than enablers...like the polticians which equals a lot of nothing on all fronts.

Posted by: gdiv | February 15, 2010 3:28 PM | Report abuse

I agree that much of the Obama's policies are a continuation of the stupidities which Bush started with on glaring and laudable exception: NO MORE TORTURE!!!!...Cheney confirmed that he would still include waterboarding to encourage prisoners to talk....so he confirms that he is a war criminal along with Bush.....so there is a difference David and a very big one...

Posted by: JerryOlek | February 15, 2010 3:55 PM | Report abuse

One has to wonder what Cheney is really thinking, or what his true motives are. Does he realize that his discourse is exactly what he and others in the Bush admin called anti-american? There is a poll on what you believe his thinking is at CHENEY TERRORISM POLL http://bit.ly/bFb5N3

Posted by: dhough2 | February 15, 2010 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Fundamentally, Dick Cheney goes on television to defend Dick Cheney, not to promote the policies of the Bush administration.

Enhanced interrogation techniques he defends because he sponsored or even demanded them during Bush's first term. They were discontinued after the damage they had done to America's standing in the world (and its ability to discourage terrorism against us in Arab countries) had become clear, but that wasn't Cheney's decision so he won't defend it. Cheney objected to disbarment of government attorneys who gave the Bush administration the legal opinions he demanded of them because they were following his instructions. On Iraq and Afghanistan, Cheney endorses policies that he would have pursued (or would like to think he would have pursued) if he had had the influence in Bush's second term than he did in the first. Even on gays in the military, Cheney only takes the position he does because of a family connection.

The odd thing is, Cheney is still the closest thing the Republican Party has to a spokesman on foreign and national security affairs. Yet every time he speaks on the subject, it's never about the GOP or even about the country. In the end, it's always about Dick Cheney.

Posted by: jbritt3 | February 15, 2010 4:42 PM | Report abuse

Once you crossed the threshold of justifying crimes against humanity like torture it becomes easier and easier to do so. Suddenly indefensible and Un-American crimes like indefinite detention and targeted assignation become credible because leaders say Americans will die if we don't use them. The masses follow fearing for their lives. What the masses fail to realize is that we become the enemy we claim to fight when we use these tools.

If you care about your families safety then worry less about terrorists, which we all stand united against, and more about torture, indefinite detention, and targeted assassination. Quicker than the blink of an eye they can be turned against us because we’re already passed the threshold.

Posted by: joejoe2000 | February 15, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Yesterday, after years of media portrayal as a gaffe-prone, gaffe-machine and incessant lampooning by online humor magazine The Onion (to hilarious effect), Vice President Joe Biden struck back.

This Sunday’s political talk show circuit revolved around the debate between Biden and his predecessor Dick Cheney. Their discussion spanned three networks, focusing mostly upon the Iraq War and national security policy.

“He’s not entitled to rewrite history. He’s not entitled to his own facts,” Biden said of Cheney before declaring him to be “factually, substantively, wrong on the major criticisms he is asserting.”

As to what his predecessor’s motivations might be for obscuring the truth, Biden correctly concluded that, “He is either misinformed or misinforming.”

It’s refreshing to see a Democrat, especially one as high-profile as the Vice President, finally come out swinging in the fight against Republican propaganda. In doing so, Joe Biden also struck a forceful blow against those who seek to characterize him as bumbling and incompetent. Above all, he bolstered my belief that our current administration will soon make good on its promise of change.

Read more @ http://armchairfirebrand.wordpress.com/

Posted by: ArmchairFirebrand | February 15, 2010 5:25 PM | Report abuse

This was merely "an exchange of views". Now a real brawl would take place in a steel cage and be on pay-per-view.

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 15, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Dibah wrote: Would someone with a thorough knowledge of the Constitution be able to cite those clauses/amendments etc which allow the President to declare himself the judge, the jury and the executioner?
Wasn't the primary raison d'etre of the Constitution to separate these very powers?
And as the attendant innocent civilian deaths continue to increase, how long would we assuage our moral conscience with that hideous term "collateral damage?"
----------------------------------
Di – I’m no expert but I’ll give it my best shot. This is really a question for Mr. Rove, or former VP Cheney, as I understand he defended this interpretation when he was in power.

In a time of war, the Executive Branch (aka the President) is in charge – the Legislative Branch ( Congress) can pass whatever laws it wants, but when the President signs, and adds a “signing statement”, no matter how convoluted, that’s just as binding. Note – this is “in time of war” – Congress would have to approve war powers for the President like they did for the “War on Terror”. The “War on Poverty” and “The War on Drugs” aren’t acceptable.

Yeah, I don’t buy it either, but Cheney and Rove got Congress to go along with this for almost 8 years. It’s why I will NEVER vote for a Republican and incumbent politician again.

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 15, 2010 6:13 PM | Report abuse

Dibah wrote: Would someone with a thorough knowledge of the Constitution be able to cite those clauses/amendments etc which allow the President to declare himself the judge, the jury and the executioner?
Wasn't the primary raison d'etre of the Constitution to separate these very powers?
And as the attendant innocent civilian deaths continue to increase, how long would we assuage our moral conscience with that hideous term "collateral damage?"
----------------------------------
Di – I forgot to mention – The US would have to be in a state of perpetual war (Afghanistan, Iraq, and maybe Iran) or theoretically after the war is over, the President would have to return to his constitutionally mandated powers (including those pesky checks and balances), and could not rule as a virtual dictator, immune to criticism or restraint.

Instead, he and his buddies would have to be accountable to the American People for their actions.

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 15, 2010 6:24 PM | Report abuse

What I most object to in the position of Cheney and his followers, is the promotion of the position that we, in the US destroy ourselves, our legal and our political system, that we ignore history and legal precedents built over hundreds of years in this nation, and thousands in England, France, and our predecessors.

Posted by: btmsp | February 15, 2010 2:02 PM
===========================================
It never ceases to amaze me that allegedly educated persons can write such doggerel.

The biological imperative of every government is first self preservation. Everything else emanates from that imperative. Its the top of Maslow's pyramid.

For every nation you cited as proof I can cite thousands of examples where rights, liberties, and the individual were suborned to the survival of the government.

Every one of those nations you listed has deep and dark secrets they would rather you did not know.

To paraphrase the movie MIB the one thing that keeps it all working for the government is that you do not know about it.

Posted by: krankyman | February 15, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Apparently, the American people are incapable of remembering anything, at all, beyond a 24 hour time span. We are treated as if we have NO knowledge, remembrance, or comprehension of what has taken place EVER, in our whole history.
Journalists report to us only what is going on in the immediate moment, according to THEIR lights, and have NO responsibility to bring ANY historical facts to bear on their "reporting".
Therefore, they "report" to us what is going on in their own minds at any special moment.
AND, guess what? We ALL believe it!!! Something's wrong here, people.

Posted by: cms1 | February 15, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, I am a bit retarded...How are the programs set up...does Mr. Cheney call and ask to be on and then VP Biden has to jump to it...It is a money making deal for the media...so how does it "happen."

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | February 15, 2010 7:24 PM | Report abuse

If Mr. Cheney was the President...then, Mr. Bush should be the one invited to go head to head with Mr. Biden....? what am I missing...yes, another Retard here.

Posted by: judithclaire1939 | February 15, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Shadowmagician you're right you're no expert. Not even close. You should not tread where you are out of your depth.

Posted by: BlackCamel | February 15, 2010 8:41 PM | Report abuse

BlackCamel wrote: Shadowmagician you're right you're no expert. Not even close. You should not tread where you are out of your depth!
---------------------------------
Camel - Your're quick with the insults, I gotta give you that.

Do you have anything INTELLIGENT to add to these comments, perhaps ANSWERING Dibahs' question, or are you just blowing smoke?

Posted by: shadowmagician | February 15, 2010 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Au contraire, treating national security as a continuing street-fight is both healthy and necessary in a democracy, especially ours.

Practically anything can be viewed through the lenses of national security - especially our futile foreign wars and the wave of terrorism spreading globally.

Our CIA taught the mujahideen taught how to fight the Russians and they turned it against us after the Gulf War over defending Saudi Arabia on their holy soil.

As long as the Iranians and Iraqis were at each other's throat, they were to too busy to build their own nukes. Bush II used 9-11 as an excuse to take Saddam out for attempting to assassinate his daddy. This completely destroyed the regional balance.

The Afghan operation should have been shut down in 2003. It serves no legitimate purpose to occupy this barbaric, mountainous, snake pit. We need to debate national security day and night, 24-7, until we realize how stupid we have been.

Posted by: alance | February 15, 2010 10:21 PM | Report abuse

I differ with comment about Constitution. It establishes who our leadership is, and their relationship to each other in judicial, executive, and legislative branches of government. After that, whole document establishes what the "government cannot do to us, the citizens". Folks from other countries are not part of that (whether legally or illegally in this country). They are given certain protections. Normally Congress declares war, but just as it was in 1930s, that declaration is hard to achieve, since congress gives up certain powers to the Executive Branch. As for war, I challenge all of you to state a time when there was no major war was being fought on this planet. In war, the object is to win. Countries have signed agreements of how war is fought, but the fundamentalists have never complied with that, starting centuries ago, and breaking out in atrocities through the years. Do any of you see comparison of "kamikaze" in WWII and the "jihadist bomber" of now? Same people who hindered Pres. Bush #41, who counseled Clinton, then hindered Bush #43, and are still in our Congress and Media. So I enjoy their departure now, and only wish some more would leave soon. November will see more departing, unless they stay in Washington as lobbyists. Security, Intelligence, and War is more successful if not fought on front pages of papers or television. I served 26 years, am retired, 80 years old, and unaffiliated voter. I plan for my vote to help some to depart.

Posted by: Frank25 | February 15, 2010 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Do you know how many suspected terrorist that have been taken into custody have been mirandized?

All of them. Since 2001, every one of them.

Posted by: NotFooledTX | February 16, 2010 9:54 AM | Report abuse

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