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Cheney Lashes Out at Obama For Investigating CIA Interrogations

Former Vice President Dick Cheney has resumed his attacks on the Obama administration, this time lashing out at the Justice Department's decision to investigate the CIA's interrogation of terrorist suspects. He said the second guessing of the Bush administration "offends the hell out of me, frankly."

Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Cheney said the decision was politically motivated and could threaten national security:

"I just think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage long-term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say."

Attorney General Eric Holder announced last week that he was conducting a preliminary review into the actions of certain CIA interrogators who might have exceeded the techniques approved by the Bush administration's Justice Department.

(Read more about the investigation on Investigation into Alleged Torture by CIA Reignites Controversy)

Cheney would not say whether he would cooperate with the probe if asked. "It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in."

The former VP repeated his contention that the harsh interrogation techniques saved American lives. In addition to waterboarding, a 2004 report from the CIA inspector general that was partly declassified last week said those techniques also included mock executions, guns, and power drills to threaten suspects.

Some say those actions violated U.S. laws on torture. But Cheney said prosecutors in the Bush administration's Justice Department reviewed the report, and decided no charges should be filed.

On Fox, moderator Chris Wallace asked Cheney: "So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?"

Cheney's reponse?: "I am."

But a current senior Justice Department official responded to the Los Angeles Times on condition of anonymity: "It is remarkable that someone who has read the full classified CIA [inspector general's] report would say that everything in that report was OK."

Cheney says the Bush people deserve thanks from Obama, not an investigation. "The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, 'How did you do it?' " Cheney said. "Instead, they're out there now threatening to disbar the lawyers who gave us the legal opinions."

But that is not how Eric Holder sees it. In ordering the investigation, he seemed to go against President Obama, who said he would not investigate the CIA. But an Obama administration official said the president had never pledged to absolve all CIA officers of any potential wrongdoing -- just those who followed the law. "Nothing has changed," said the official, who requested anonymity.

So who is right here? Cheney says these agents did what they had to do to protect the country, and should not be punished for it. But the Justice Department says if you break the law -- regardless of your motivation -- you have to face the music.

Is anyone above the law?


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