Cheney Emerges as Defender-in-Chief for Bush Years, Says He Won't 'Roll Over'

Dick Cheney said Tuesday that he's not going to "roll over" while Democrats accuse the Bush administration of breaking the law with its anti-terror policies.

The former vice president defended his decision to stay in the public eye during an interview Tuesday on FOX News, his latest appearance in a media blitz since leaving office.

Cheney, who has taken heat for remaining so vocal, told FOX News that the Obama administration is "dismantling" the national security policies that kept the country safe since the Sept. 11 attacks. He said he continues to speak out to combat the mounting criticism of Bush-era interrogation policies and weigh in on what he called the "outrageous" debate over whether to punish the officials involved with designing those policies.

"I don't think we should just roll over when the new administration ... accuses us of committing torture, which we did not, or somehow violating the law, which we did not," Cheney said. "I think you need to stand up and respond to that, and that's what I've done."

The former vice president has over the past several weeks suddenly has become aggressively outspoken in defending the Bush administration and criticizing Obama's policies despite President Bush's decision to lay low during the transition to post-White House life.

Cheney's comments Tuesday to FOX News were just the latest in a string of appearances in which he has accused the new administration of putting the country at a greater risk of terrorist attack by rolling back policies from the Bush administration.

With his prominence, Cheney has effectively switched places with former President George W. Bush, who quietly left behind his eight tumultuous years in office and returned to Texas, moving into a new home in Dallas. Bush said in March that he would not spend his post-White House days criticizing President Obama, and he declared at an event in Canada that Obama "deserves my silence."

Cheney, on the other hand, is emerging as the face and voice of the administration following two terms in which he influenced policy from behind the scenes and away from the cameras.

On Tuesday, he dismissed what he called "the notion that I should remain silent while they go public."

"The bottom line is we successfully defended the nation for seven and a half years against a follow-on attack to 9/11. That was a remarkable achievement," he told FOX News. "I think that we are stripping ourselves of some of the capabilities that we used in order to block, if you will, or disrupt activities by Al Qaeda that would have led to additional attacks."

But in staying visible, Cheney has been drawing fire from critics who say he just can't let go.

"I've been struck in watching the former president and the former vice president take markedly different views to their lives post ... administration. I think many have," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday, when asked about an interview Cheney gave Sunday. Gibbs accused the Republican Party of "essentially going forward by looking backward."

Cheney made headlines Sunday by claiming Bush-era intelligence operations -- including enhanced interrogation techniques -- potentially saved "hundreds of thousands of lives."

In a wide-ranging interview on CBS' "Face the Nation," Cheney cited such benefits to national security and said he has "no regrets" about the administration's actions.

He also accused former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who endorsed Barack Obama for president, of abandoning the Republican Party, and he continued to call on the Obama administration to release classified memos that he says show the valuable, life-saving information gleaned through using controversial interrogation tactics like waterboarding.

Gibbs suggested Tuesday that the administration was reviewing Cheney's memo request. "I'm trying to find out where all that lays and, hopefully, can clear that up in the next few hours," he said in mid-afternoon.

Cheney first made that call on FOX News in April, when the debate over the interrogation tactics was heating up. He spoke after the Obama administration made public a string of memos detailing the justification for tough interrogation tactics and argued that the administration should release additional documents so as to have an "honest debate."

In response, Democrats have taken to mocking Cheney.

"Why is he still here?" the Democratic National Committee asked in a fundraising e-mail sent out last month. The pitch asked contributors to donate enough money so the party could buy Cheney a $202, "one-way" bus ticket to Jackson, Wyo.

"Given how polarizing and unpopular he is, I'd think Eric Cantor, John Boehner and Michael Steele would want to chip in to send Cheney out of town," DNC spokesman Hari Sevugan said in an e-mail to, suggesting Cheney is hurting Republican party leaders by solidifying the GOP as the "party of the past."

"Can't we send Dick Cheney back to Wyoming?" liberal Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson wrote Tuesday.

Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said Cheney's prominent presence is hurting the GOP by hindering young, fresh voices from taking the reins and redefining the party.

But he said there's no edict that says former officials must remain silent, and Cheney has the right to defend himself.

"At his age and position, he has no further ambitions and he has a lifetime of experience in American politics ... So why not?" Sabato said. "Cheney's not one to sit there and be pummeled. He's going to respond. You punch him. He's going to punch back."

Cheney's daughter, Liz, told FOX News on Tuesday that her father is merely speaking out against Obama administration actions, such as opening up former Bush officials to potential prosecution, that she called "inexplicable and inexcusable." She said she's not surprised by her father's willingness to stick his neck out on these issues.

"He feels so strongly about the importance of defending the nation and the importance of the policies that they've put in place, and feels so strongly about making sure that there's a full debate before the American people about these polices," she said.

Though a few other Bush officials have drifted in and out of the limelight since Jan. 20, Cheney suggested Sunday that he feels he is the most able spokesman to defend the policies that are under attack by Democrats in Washington.

"If I don't speak out, then where do we find ourselves?" Cheney said. "Then the critics have free run, and there isn't anybody there on the other side to tell the truth. So it's important."

Asked whether Bush had approved of her father's on-air campaign to defend the administration, Liz Cheney said: "One of the nice things about my dad being out of office is that he doesn't need sign-off."'s Judson Berger contributed to this report.