Here's his own time-line on the torture memos:
"The first thing you do is ask, what's legal?" he said. "What do the lawyers say is possible? I made the decision, within the law, to get information so I can say to myself, 'I've done what it takes to do my duty to protect the American people.'"
I can imagine a scenario in which the president essentially directed the vice-president to go as far as he wanted within the law. And with Yoo, Bybee and Bradbury, Cheney was able to dictate what the "law" was and get Bush to sign off. Cheney clearly made a decision to use torture almost immediately after 9/11. He all but told us in the "dark side" interview. The law was not a boundary to be respected; it was a problem to be overcome. And, of course, the torturing had started before the first legal memo was fixed.