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So far the summer has been mild in the Washington, D.C., area. But for former Vice President Dick Cheney the temperature is well over 100 degrees. He is sweating profusely, and it is becoming increasingly clear why.
Cheney has broken openly with former President George W. Bush on one issue of transcendent importance - to Cheney. For whatever reason, Bush decided not to hand out blanket pardons before they both rode off into the sunset.
Cheney has complained bitterly that his former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby should have been pardoned, rather than simply having his jail sentence "commuted."
Cheney told the press that Bush left Libby "sort of hanging in the wind" by refusing to issue Libby a pardon before Bush left office. Libby had been convicted of perjury, obstruction of justice, and lying to federal agents investigating the leak of a former CIA operations officer's identity.
"I believe firmly that Scooter was unjustly accused and prosecuted and deserved a pardon, and the President disagreed with that," Cheney said. He would disclose no details of his efforts to lobby Bush on Libby's behalf, saying they would be "best left to history."
It is getting close to history time. You do not need to be a cracker-jack analyst to understand that Cheney is feeling betrayed - that he is thinking not of Libby, but of himself, and fearing that, if our system of justice works, he could be in for some serious, uncommuted jail time.
His situation has grown pathetic. Aside from the man himself, it has fallen almost solely to faithful daughter Liz to defend her dad and to start a political backfire to keep him out of prison. She is to be admired for her faithfulness. In the process, though, she has unwittingly given much away.
Liz on the Offensive
On Washington Times' "America's Morning News" radio program Monday, Liz acted again as designated hitter, responding to the recent New York Times report that her father had given "direct orders" to the CIA to withhold "information about a secret counterterrorism program for eight years."
Not for the first time, Liz Cheney disclosed what has her father so worried and agitated. She said he is "very angry" over recent press reports that Attorney General Eric Holder may be about to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate "the Bush administration's brutal interrogation practices."
She branded this "shameful" - worse still, "un-American." Not the interrogation practices, mind you, but the notion that her father should be held to account for them.
Typically, Ms. Cheney did well in sticking closely to her talking points, arguing that the issue is "somebody taking office and then starting to prosecute people who carried out policies that they disagreed with, you know, in the previous administration."
As if unprecedented decisions to torture, in violation of international law and the War Crimes Act of 1996, can be accurately described as "policies" over which there can be honest disagreement. This is about crimes, not "policies."
Pulling out all the stops, Ms. Cheney worried aloud over what this does to "morale at the CIA," where the practitioners of what Bush called "an alternative set of procedures" for interrogation believed they were acting with the blessing of the Justice Department. (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity addressed that bromide frontally on April 29, 2009, in a Memorandum to our new President.)
Liz Cheney went on to argue that this could in the future inhibit CIA functionaries from various actions, out of fear of criminal liability. (To me, that sounds like a distinct plus.)