Bill O'Reilly and Liz Cheney Debate Iraq War

'Factor' host and former vice president's daughter go head-to-head


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," September 15, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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BILL O'REILLY, HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: As you may know, former Vice President Dick Cheney has written a new book with his daughter Liz, entitled "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir." We have invited Mr. Cheney on the program but he has declined thus far, but his daughter is a different story. So Ms. Cheney is the co-author of the book, but your other co-author, I don't see -- he's not here.

LIZ CHENEY, CO-AUTHOR, "IN MY TIME": Am I chopped liver?

O'REILLY: No, no. We absolutely love you as a guest. But I have never talked to your father, the former vice president. I don't believe he likes me very much, and, you know, I'm a little perplexed.

CHENEY: He could be saving the best for last but I think the fact that I was able to find time in my schedule to appear ought to be something you should be grateful for.

O'REILLY: I am very grateful and you know that. All right. There are two big deficits from the Bush-Cheney administration. The first deficit is the economy that went down the drain at the end. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were taken by surprise because of all the subprime mortgages. My question to your father: Why didn't you know about that?

CHENEY: You know, I think actually they spent a lot of time and they made efforts during the Bush administration to reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and those efforts were blocked by most of the Democrats in Congress. But we did come to a point that was clearly an economic crisis.

O'REILLY: But I still don't understand, and I asked President Bush this himself when I talked to him about his book, why there wasn't a louder cry from the Bush White House, including your father, about the danger of selling these subprime mortgages all over the place?

CHENEY: I think clearly the crisis was deeper than anybody anticipated or could have imagined.

O'REILLY: All right. So they just didn't know how bad it was. That's the fair answer.

CHENEY: No, and they took steps, but the steps were really important so that the economy didn't fall off of a cliff.

O'REILLY: OK. The second one is the Iraq war. You know that I'm a supporter or I was a supporter of that.

CHENEY: I actually didn't know that.

O'REILLY: Well, it's true. I mean, I'm on the record of supporting the enhanced interrogations, the Patriot Act, Guantanamo Bay and, you know, consistently across the line. But there's a historical record and the historical record is that Americans were not aware of the big threat that Al Qaeda was posing.

CHENEY: The record is actually on Al Qaeda that before 9/11, we treated it like a law enforcement problem.

O'REILLY: Yes. And Clinton did and Bush did, and we got wacked.

CHENEY: And I think that is the key difference is that the president and the vice president, Bush and Cheney, understood after 9/11, this is war. And we're at war. We have to do whatever it takes to keep the nation safe.

O'REILLY: All right. Three days before the Iraq war was launched, here's what Vice President Cheney said on "Meet the Press."


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think things have gotten so bad inside Iraq from the standpoint of the Iraqi people. My belief is we will in fact be greeted as liberators.


O'REILLY: OK. Obviously, that didn't happen. And I would love to know…

CHENEY: It actually did happen. We were greeted as liberators and then we saw a massive, bloody, dangerous insurgency begin. And it wasn't frankly until we were able in 2006 with the surge to adopt a counter-insurgency strategy that we were able to frankly turn things around.

O'REILLY: OK. But here's why you're wrong. We weren't greeted as liberators. We were greeted in a way that was tentative.

CHENEY: It's not true.

O'REILLY: Yes, it is.

CHENEY: No, it's not. Bill…

O'REILLY: You saw the statue came down, and you know how many people were out there? Do you know how many people were out there when the statue of Saddam Hussein came down? Do you know how many?

CHENEY: Do you know how many, Bill?

O'REILLY: Yes, I do. A couple of hundred, not thousands. Baghdad is a city of millions. A couple of hundred.


O'REILLY: And then right after the statue came down, the armories were looted and the terrorists went in and they took all of Saddam Hussein's arms, OK?

CHENEY: Look, I know how much…

O'REILLY: Because our government wasn't expecting that.

CHENEY: I know how much you care about no spin.

O'REILLY: Right.

CHENEY: And I think it's really important here. Saddam was an incredibly repressive dictator.

O'REILLY: No doubt.

CHENEY: The Iraqi people were glad to see him go. Saddam had in place -- there were elements from his regime that stayed in place. There were elements from Al Qaeda, elements from Iran who were there who were ready, who launched a very bloody insurgency.

O'REILLY: Correct. And it was not anticipated by us. That insurgency…

CHENEY: I think it was not anticipated by everyone. I think that's true.

O'REILLY: It was not anticipated.

CHENEY: But it's -- when we removed Saddam Hussein, we made sure that there wasn't going to be somebody in place who we knew had ties to terror, who we knew knew how to make weapons of mass destruction, who we knew had used them before, who we knew was supporting terrorists. We also, by the way, as soon as Saddam was gone got a phone call from Muammar Gaddafi who didn't want to be next, who gave up his nuclear weapons.

O'REILLY: There were good things that happened. No doubt.

CHENEY: I think that the notion that we now have in the heart of the Middle East a democracy that is not supporting terrorists. It's not perfect. But it is a huge accomplishment of the Bush Administration that we liberated all those people and the people in Afghanistan. And I think it's just flat wrong for you to call it a deficit.

O'REILLY: OK. And I disagree in the sense that it could have been done in a different way. I would have -- the same result.

CHENEY: Which way? Would you have gone and talked to Saddam and said, "Hey, you ought to think of like packing it in?"

O'REILLY: No, I would have gone the Bush the Elder way, the president's father, and I would have strangled them with a blockade. I would have no-fly zoned it as they would have done and then when the drones were developed…

CHENEY: Bill, you have to look at the reports that were done by the Iraq Survey Group, for example. It was clear when we come came into office in 2000 that Saddam was a threat. He had between the time of the first Bush Administration and this Bush Administration completely ignored 16 U.N. Security Council resolutions…

O'REILLY: There's no doubt about it.

CHENEY: …that the sanctions regime was crumbling. So it's just not accurate to say he was in a box. We could have strangled him. And after 9/11, we couldn't run the risk -- that somebody like Saddam was going to share technology about WMD with the enemy.

O'REILLY: I don't expect you and your father to agree with me, OK? But the blood and treasure of the United States spent in Iraq has now come back to our country in a very negative way.

CHENEY: We need more time, and I feel confident that I could convince you of the rightness of my position.

O'REILLY: I thank you for coming in Ms. Cheney. We appreciate it.

CHENEY: Thank you. Good to be here.

O'REILLY: And we are still hoping the vice president will reconsider. It will be fun to have him on the program, or at least it would be fun for us.

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