Here are the tough and penetrating questions asked by Chris Wallace of a man whose critics accuse of war crimes, and whose administration presided over the death of over a hundred prisoners in interrogation, who authorized torture techniques once trade-marked by the Khmer Rouge:
Why are you so concerned about the idea of one administration reviewing, investigating the actions of another one?
The attorney general says this is a preliminary review, not a criminal investigation. It is just about CIA officers who went beyond their legal authorization. Why don't you think it's going to stop there?
The inspector general's report which was just released from 2004 details some specific interrogations -- mock executions, one of the detainees threatened with a handgun and with an electric drill, waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times. First of all, did you know that was going on?
So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?
President Obama has also decided to move interrogations from the CIA to the FBI that's under the supervision of the National Security Council, and the FBI will have to act within the boundaries of the Army Field Manual.
What do you think that does for the nation's security? And will we now have the tools if we catch another high-value target?
Republicans have made the charge before, do you think Democrats are soft on National Security?
Do you think that it was a mistake, while you were in power, while your administration was in power, not to go after the nuclear infrastructure of Iran?
Was it a mistake for Bill Clinton, with the blessing of the Administration, to go to North Korea to bring back those two reporters?
Now look: there are softball interviews; and then there are interviews like this. It cannot be described as journalism in any fashion. Even as propaganda, which is its point, it doesn't work - because it's far too cloying and supportive of Cheney to be convincing to anyone outside the true-believers. When it comes to Cheney, one of the most incompetent vice-presidents in the country's history, with a record of two grotesquely botched wars, war crimes and a crippling debt, Chris Wallace sounds like a teenage girl interviewing the Jonas Brothers.
My two favorite moments:
CHENEY: I am going to -- if I address that, I will address it in my book, Chris.
WALLACE: It is going to be a hell of a book.
CHENEY: It is going to be a great book.
And then the apology for asking the questions Cheney wanted asked:
WALLACE: Well, we want to thank you for talking with us and including in your private life putting up with an interview from the likes of me.
CHENEY: It's all right. I enjoy your show, Chris.
WALLACE: Thank you very much, and all the best sir.
When future historians ask how the United States came not only to practice torture but to celebrate it and treat torturers as heroes, a special place in hell among the journalists who embraced and justified it should be reserved for Chris Wallace.