Former Vice President Dick Cheney is a complicated man. Long viewed by anti-war liberals as the man behind the curtain of George W. Bush's foreign policy, he now finds himself aligned with liberal defenders of the U.S. government's massively expanded drone strike program, under which the President, in total secrecy, dispatches unmanned aircraft to drop bombs on terrorist subjects hiding in foreign countries. In fact, in an interview with CBS that aired this morning, Cheney said that the drone program is the only portion of Obama's foreign policy that he agrees with — indeed, that he thinks it's a "good policy." (He otherwise argued that Obama is trying to gut the Pentagon and reduce the influence of the United States abroad.)
Cheney's narrow endorsement of drones, flanked by a much broader condemnation of Obama's foreign strategy, is of a piece with his stance toward terrorism — and the Bush administration's continued influence on how the U.S. combats it. In 2010, for example, Cheney criticized Obama's willingness to prosecute underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in the U.S. justice system. "[Obama] seems to think that if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won't be at war," he said, joining criticism from Republicans that, according to a New York Times report published in May on the administration's "kill list" drone procedures, helped prompt the White House to take another look at how it legally defines a militant.
To be sure, drone strikes don't enjoy universal assent among Obama's supporters, some of whom have highlighted Cheney's impact on the President's war policy. Here's how MSNBC host Chris Hayes criticized the oft-repeated mantra that drones exist to take human troops out of harm's way on his show Sunday:
This narrow choice between big violence and smaller violence shows ... how much George W. Bush’s advisers continue to set the terms of our thinking years after they’d been dispatched from office. Because that argument presupposes that we are at war and must continue to be at war until an ill-defined enemy is vanquished.
Watch the rest of Hayes's monologue below: