Published June 03, 2009
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," June 1 to 2, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Tonight, former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz, go "On the Record" for their very first interview together ever. What does the former VP now say about gay marriage, the CIA and interrogation methods? Does he think the president is soft? Vice President Cheney tells you what he admires about President Obama and doesn't, and he has some tips for the president's trip to Cairo, where we will all be heading tomorrow.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Vice President, nice to see you. Liz, of course, always nice to see you.
LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY'S DAUGHTER: Thank you. Great to be here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Mr. Vice President, I've heard you quoted as saying that the toughest boss you ever had was former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, but I heard -- I understand you've got a rougher one now, your daughter.
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My daughter. She -- she is. She's not nearly as respectful as Don used to be. (LAUGHTER)
VAN SUSTEREN: Wait. And what is she -- the two of you are working on your memoirs?
D. CHENEY: Well, yes. I want to do a book that covers the 40 years I've been in Washington, and I have the great good fortune to have Liz with me on it. And she's the honcho. She's driving the train, getting everything organized, getting all my papers rounded up, and so forth. So it's great fun, and it's especially fun to get to do it with Liz.
VAN SUSTEREN: Are you bossing him around, Liz?
L. CHENEY: No, I don't boss him around.
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, that's what we hear. We hear you're in charge of this, that you're the organizer.
L. CHENEY: It is -- it's a huge labor of love and it's a tremendous honor and -- you know, to be able to spend this much time with my dad -- I'll cry if you look at me -- to spend this much time with my dad, you know, talking about his life and talking about, you know, his 40 years in Washington. It's just very, very special, so I feel really privileged to be able to do it.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you do? Do you go up to the archives and dig through documents? I mean, how is this actually done? Because a lot of it I assume is classified, and we'll get to the classified documents in a second. But how do you get access to a lot of the information?
L. CHENEY: Well, a lot of what we've covered so far has been the pre- vice presidency, and there's just a tremendous record of oral history that he's done before, you know, sitting and talking with him about what it was like to grow up in Wyoming and what it was like to come to Washington in 1968. I mean, so a lot of the work so far has been sort of before the Bush years. A lot of the book -- I don't -- do you want to talk about the book?
D. CHENEY: Yes, I would. (LAUGHTER)
A lot of it -- I've been around so long, Greta, that a lot of the early years' classified stuff has lapsed. It's no longer classified. So you can go back to the Ford administration, for example, and a lot of those documents that might not have been available immediately after the administration are available now.
And the -- I guess the thing I think is important, there have been five Republican administrations since the Eisenhower years. I've worked in four of them and worked closely with a fifth, the Reagan administration, as part of the congressional leadership in the House.
These are -- it's a range of times and issues on everything from Watergate to Iran-contra to Desert Storm to 9/11, a series of issues that I think are an important part of American history.
VAN SUSTEREN: One of the things -- you just mentioned classified documents. Of course, that's got to go to the issue everyone's been talking about. You want some documents declassified having to do with waterboarding and the president -- the current president has the authority to do so and he has not declassified them. Is that where we are?
D. CHENEY: Yes. But the way I would describe them is they have to do with the detainee program, the interrogation program, not just waterboarding. It's the interrogation program that we used for high-value detainees.
And there were two reports done that summarize what we learned from that program, and they are -- I think they provide a balanced view. The president's already released the legal opinions that allowed us to do them. I think he ought to also release the results and show what, in fact, we accomplished as a result of that.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the reason, as I understand it -- and I think, Liz, you were on with us the other night about it -- is that what they're saying is that they're subject to a collateral request, a Freedom of Information Act litigation, and that's the impediment, right?
D. CHENEY: That's the claim by the agency. The fact is, the president's the ultimate authority on classification and declassification. He can declassify those things at the stroke of a pen. It's totally within his prerogative to do so, and he, in fact, had to do that when he released the legal memos earlier. I'm sure those were subject to the same kind of limitation, that they were a part of ongoing litigation. But he could with the stroke of a pen declassify what I'm asking for tonight.
VAN SUSTEREN: And the down side of him doing that, from his perspective, is what?
D. CHENEY: I don't know. I obviously haven't talked to him about it. I think it would be valuable information to have out there as part of the ongoing debate and dialogue about interrogation techniques. I think it would add a lot. And I think sooner or later, it will come out. I don't know why they're so reluctant to produce them.
VAN SUSTEREN: At least they'll answer the question in this particular "He said, she said" that's been going on about this, right? It must be hard for you to -- you know, you love your father and you hear the dispute and the people critical. (INAUDIBLE) he's got great fans. He's got critics, as well. Tough for you?
L. CHENEY: Well, I think you never like to see somebody you love being criticized. And certainly, some of the portrait and the picture out there have been as, you know, not the dad that I know and love.
But I'm also -- I just really feel very proud of him and very proud of the fact that he is, you know, standing up now. That's sort of what he's done his whole career, to sort of stand up and stand for what's right and to say, Wait a minute, you know, it's not right to mischaracterize the policies of the last eight years. It's not right to reveal only half the picture to the American people. It's certainly not right to really libel the brave men and women who conducted this program and the lawyers who provided the legal framework for the program.
So you know, I think that you never like to see somebody criticized, but you know, I just -- I feel very proud of, you know, being able to stand up with him and learn from him.
VAN SUSTEREN: One of the discussions, Mr. Vice President, today at the lunch you talked about is whether there was a tie between Saddam Hussein and 9/11 and that George Tenet said there was, the former director of the CIA.
On his watch, an awful lot of things happened, you know, even during the Clinton administration, when he was director of the CIA, as well. What happened? Was he -- I mean, why so much bad information? We had 9/11 happen under his watch. We had the embassies in Africa that got bombed under his watch. An awful lot of things happened under his watch.
D. CHENEY: Correct, but on the question of whether or not Iraq was involved in 9/11, there was never any evidence to prove that. There was some reporting early on, for example, that Mohammed Atta had met with a senior Iraqi intelligence official. But that was never borne out.
And George -- George (INAUDIBLE) he brought that information forward as it became available. And in fairness to George, it would be important to say he did say and did testify that there was an ongoing relationship between al Qaeda and Iraq, but no proof that Iraq was involved in 9/11.
VAN SUSTEREN: So what happened to our CIA? I mean, if you sort of -- like, if you go back and sort of pull the strings, so to speak, to see what was going on, is that there were an awful lot of events that have happened in the last even 10 years or so -- I'm just -- I picked that arbitrary -- in which our intelligence was just wrong, or we failed to block something, you know, we failed at the embassies. I use that as an example. But, you know...
D. CHENEY: Well, I think it's important to understand what intelligence is all about. We want perfection. We want to have absolute accuracy. We want to believe in what we're told. And the intelligence business is more an art form than a science. In World War II, blew Pearl Harbor. Didn't pick up on it. Six months later, master stroke when our guys intercepted and broke the Japanese navy code and led directly to the victory at Midway.
Our recent history is similar to that. You know, for example, they misread Saddam Hussein's intent when he invaded Kuwait in 1990. They underestimated the extent of the Iraqi program to try to acquire nuclear capability back in '90 and '91. They missed 9/11. On the other hand, they've done a magnificent job as part of the effort to keep the United States safe these last seven-and-a-half years.
VAN SUSTEREN: Which I guess is why we go back to the documents because, I mean -- I guess, maybe I'm reading this from the outside, and why -- you know, the documents, if we declassified more, maybe we could have a -- you know, a greater understanding of the situation because we only are on the outside.
D. CHENEY: Well, and the reason we've maintained secrets is because we want to preserve especially our methods, our capabilities. But the fact is that the intelligence community has had some enormous successes in the last few years. You usually don't hear about the successes. What you hear about are the train wrecks, the things that didn't work out quite right.
But I think what they did on the terrorist surveillance program has been magnificent. I think what they've done on the interrogation program of high-value detainees -- I think both of those were great successes and are very much the reason why we were able to avoid a major attack against the United States since 9/11.
VAN SUSTEREN: Transparency -- the new administration says that that's going to be their mission. How do you rate them so far?
D. CHENEY: Well, they're falling a little short. You know, if you believe in transparency, why not release these memos?
VAN SUSTEREN: And transparency?
L. CHENEY: Well, yes. I mean, I think transparency's important, but I think that, you know, the media has an important role to play here because I think that hypocrisy is something the American people really can smell. And when an administration wants to take credit for being transparent but then only releases half the story, I think that the news media really has an obligation to ask why that is and to keep the pressure on and to make sure they get answers that the American people deserve about why we aren't getting the full story.
VAN SUSTEREN: Coming up: What does former Vice President Cheney say today about gay marriage? What advice does he have for President Obama for his big speech this Thursday in Egypt? And does he think President Obama is soft?
And later: Congratulations! Yes -- yes, you now own 60 percent of GM. So who'll be running your company, people who've sold cars and know how to sell cars, or people who work on Wall Street? You're the boss. What do you want? The CFO of GM is in the hot seat tonight. You're going to hear from him.
VAN SUSTEREN: More of our interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama is going to Egypt and he's going to speak to Muslims in the world. What's your thought about him doing this?
D. CHENEY: It's an important subject, and I think a lot will depend upon what he says and how he says it. And there's a bit of a temptation, I think, on the part of people who haven't dealt with that part of the world on a regular basis to think that the key is, you know, being super-nice or apologetic. My experience in that part of the world is that it's a question of respect. And what they admire most, for example, in American officials are people who stand tall for what they believe in but also are very direct, keep their word and not apologetic.
Now, I always remember the story that we were told in 1990 when we were getting ready to deploy U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia because Saddam had invaded Kuwait. I had a Saudi tell me that, We hope you don't do what President Carter did. I said, What's that? He said, Well, we asked for a show of support and strength from the Americans, and they sent a squadron of F-15s. But when they were halfway here, they announced they were unarmed.
You know, that's not the right way to approach that kind of a problem, but that's sends a signal of weakness instead of strength. And so it's important to understand, I think, that part of the world. And I'm sure he's had good advice. I hope he's had good advice as he crafted his remarks and decided what message it is he wants to leave with his hosts.
VAN SUSTEREN: Do you think he's soft?
D. CHENEY: I don't -- I can't say that. I think -- I do think he's still, you know, still learning. He was a state senator and then he was a U.S. senator for a few months, and then he ran for president. It's a tough, tough job, and he's had plenty put on his platter to begin with, a very difficult economic situation, North Korea's testing nukes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I mean, there are plenty of problems that he's got to address, and he doesn't get a breathing spell here to address them. He needs to have good people around him and do everything he can to succeed.
I want to wish him well when he gets it right, but every administration has problems, and I'm sure they will, too.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you admire him about?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think it's a big deal that we've got the first African-American in history as President of the United States. I think he ran an impressive campaign. I didn't agree with a lot of what he said. I don't agree with a lot of what he says today. I obviously disagree on his counter-terrorism strategy, and so forth.
But I -- you know, I think all Americans want to see him succeed as president, and hopefully, he will -- as he encounters some of the practical difficulties of governing, of serving as president, he'll have to make some adjustments to his policies and his strategy that take into account that reality, and I hope he will.
VAN SUSTEREN: What do you admire President Obama for?
L. CHENEY: I think that he is somebody who loves the country. And I think that he also has, you know, it looks like, two terrific kids and a nice family. And I hope that when he goes to the Middle East -- if we can go back to the Middle East speech for just a minute -- I hope he'll talk about democracy and I hope he'll also talk about women's rights.
I think that one of the great things that we've seen over the course of the last several years in the Middle East is both an expansion of democracy and expansion of the empowerment of women. You know, you just had the first four women elected to the Kuwaiti parliament within the last few weeks. And I think it's very important that America stand up particularly for equal rights for women all around the globe. And so I certainly hope that when President Obama is in Cairo, he won't forget those two important messages.
VAN SUSTEREN: You bring up sort of the social issues, and of course, today, I couldn't help but notice you were asked the question about -- of gay marriage, and you said that it wasn't -- that you weren't in favor, at least -- as I understand your answer, in favor of federal statute, but it should be state by state by state. Did that mean you're in favor of gay marriage within state by state?
D. CHENEY: Well, if that's what the people of the state want to do, that's fine by me. I mean, I don't, I ...
VAN SUSTEREN: How would you vote on it?
D. CHENEY: I made the announcement at the outset that I believe equal rights means equal rights for everybody and that people ought to be able to enter into any kind of relationship they want, but that the states ought to retain the ability to regulate and determine what's marriage and what the legal status of those unions are. It should not be a federal issue.
VAN SUSTEREN: President Obama is in favor of civil unions, not in favor of gay marriage. Are you saying you're in favor -- if you were, you know, hitting the button in the voting booth, that you would be for your state having gay marriage, or would be you be ...
D. CHENEY: Well, I look at it, obviously, in personal terms. And my daughter, Mary, is in a -- you know, I think a very commendable relationship with somebody she's known for a long time, and I'm strongly supportive of that.
VAN SUSTEREN: But that is not all. We are going to have more with former Vice President Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney tomorrow night, so tune in tomorrow night, as well.
Interview with Dick and Liz Cheney, Part 2, June 2, 2009
MARTHA MACCALLUM, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Now for part two of Greta's interview with former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz. This is the first that the father and daughter have ever given an interview together. Take a look.
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you talk to President Bush 43 at all?
DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do.
VAN SUSTEREN: Like, how often? Do, like, you just call up and say, How're you doing?
D. CHENEY: Oh, every couple of weeks, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: And...
LIZ CHENEY, DICK CHENEY'S DAUGHTER: He e-mails him.
VAN SUSTEREN: He does? You e-mail?
D. CHENEY: I e-mail, yes.
VAN SUSTEREN: You never e-mailed before?
D. CHENEY: I never e-mailed before. I'm learning.
VAN SUSTEREN: So anyway, are you getting any rest now that your lives have changed so much?
D. CHENEY: Some. I got to go fishing last weekend in Wyoming, which I love doing.
VAN SUSTEREN: Get anything?
D. CHENEY: And I'll get a lot more. Yes, we had a good day. So it'll be -- you know, life's a little more orderly. But it's not the first time we've gone through this. I mean, this is the fourth time I've left government for the private sector. So it's -- so as Lynn said the other day, though, she said, This is the first time not only did you lose your job, you lost the house. You lost the airplane, you know? So she had...
VAN SUSTEREN: Lost everything.
D. CHENEY: ... a long list of things that have changed.
VAN SUSTEREN: But it really didn't -- it's amazing, though, like, you're going 100 miles an hour, and then all of a sudden, one day, it's almost stopped and you do a complete transition in your lives. I mean, how vastly different. I mean, we just heard President Bush 43 just speaking the other night with President Clinton, and your lives certainly change quickly.
D. CHENEY: That's true, but it's a -- it's not new. We've done it before when I left the Ford administration and went home to Wyoming and ran for Congress, left the Defense Department and became a private businessman, and so forth, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: What's it like having him -- he's around the house more, I guess, for your mother?
L. CHENEY: Well, it's great. And my kids -- their school bus goes by their house some afternoons, so the grandkids can get off the bus and spend the afternoon with them. And you know, it's just -- it's nice having my mom and dad back again, so we're enjoying it, getting back together as a family.
VAN SUSTEREN: And I'll bet you're glad not to have that Gitmo problem that the president has on his plate.
D. CHENEY: Well, we wrestled with Gitmo through most of the administrations I've been part of, so...
VAN SUSTEREN: Well, he said that he's going to close it.
D. CHENEY: He did, and I think that's a mistake. I think you need to have Guantanamo Bay, and if you didn't, you'd have to invent it. You've got to have some place to hold bad actors. The only other option, really, is to kill them. Or you can bring them to the States and put them through our normal criminal system. But lots of times, that won't work because the reason you know of their activities is through intelligence sources and methods. And unless you want to blow your capabilities in terms of how you track these folks, you can't very well have a public trial that discusses those kinds of issues. So it's a unique set of problems, but they are resolved by keeping Guantanamo open.
And I think that, in the end, even -- if you look at the president's speech the other night, when he talked about, what, three or four different categories of people here, there'll be a significant number that you can't try because the information you have on them, for example, comes from intelligence sources.
You can't release because they're a danger to the community. They'll go right back into the jihad-based business, if you let them. And so you've got to hold them in some capacity, and you'll end up having Guantanamo or something like Guantanamo. Maybe you ought to go down there and rename the facility, you know, hang a new plaque over it. But you need Guantanamo under these conditions.
VAN SUSTEREN: It's really a complicated job, isn't it. It looks so different from the outside, but when you think of all the tough decisions that come across your plate, and I mean, it's not an easy job to be president or vice president, is it.
D. CHENEY: They're all tough. By the time they get to that level, the easy ones have been resolved by somebody else. And the -- that's what, you know, he gets paid the big bucks for, gets to live in that big house.
And you know, they're all volunteers. And the only one I know who didn't really volunteer to be president was Jerry Ford. And after he'd been there a while, he wanted to continue being president, so -- it's a -- it is a tough job. We depend a great deal on the men or women who fill that slot, and it is legitimately the most difficult job in the nation.
VAN SUSTEREN: On last question is on GM. We've spent an awful lot of money since last fall on GM to only have them end up in bankruptcy. Going back to last fall, would you have let them go into -- or would you have pushed them into bankruptcy, do you think then, I mean, now that we've spent billions, or did you think that it was sort of a good idea to do what we've been doing?
D. CHENEY: Well, I thought that, eventually, the right outcome was going to be bankruptcy. They had to go through such a dramatic restructuring to have any chance of survival that they had to be able to renegotiate labor contracts, and so forth. And the president decided that he did not want to be the one who pulled the plug just before he left office.
VAN SUSTEREN: Why?
D. CHENEY: Well, I think he felt, you know, these are big issues and he wouldn't be there through the process of managing it, but in effect, would have sort of pulled the plug on GM and that was one of the first crises the new administration would have to deal with. So he put together a package that tided GM over until the new administration had a chance to look at it, decide what they wanted to do.
VAN SUSTEREN: But it's cost us billions to get -- I mean, you know...
D. CHENEY: It has.
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean...
D. CHENEY: And now the government...
VAN SUSTEREN: I mean, and we've now spent billions.
D. CHENEY: And now the government owns a big chunk of General Motors. That bothers me. I don't like having government own those kinds of major financial enterprises. I think it's -- it does damage to our long-term economic prospects when we get government involved in making those kinds of decisions.
The private sector then I think will be very different, function differently, if it's full of government-owned enterprises, than would otherwise be the case.
L. CHENEY: It also sets up, though, you know, an interesting debate and discussion for the American people going forward. And I think that as you see this administration, you know, moving the government towards playing a much larger role in our economy and in society, you know, you're going to see, I think, you know, many of those people who describe themselves today as independent voters, for example, taking another look at this administration, at the way they voted this time around, you know, realizing, I think, that they don't really want the government controlling vast segments of our economy. They don't want to pay higher taxes. I think it will, you know, put us in what is probably a healthy situation in terms of the debate about the role of the private sector going forward here.
VAN SUSTEREN: Think we're going to see a lot of Liz Cheney in the next couple years?
L. CHENEY: He is going to see a lot of me! (LAUGHTER)
D. CHENEY: I'll see a lot of her, yes. (LAUGHTER)
VAN SUSTEREN: No, but I mean, the way it sounded, it sounds like she's getting involved in a lot of things.
D. CHENEY: Well, I would -- you know, I'm, of course, a proud father, but I'd love to see her run for office some day. I think she's got a lot to offer. And it's been a great career for me. And if she has the interest, and I think she does, then I would like to see her to embark upon a career in politics.
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