Cheney: Tells Fox’s Tony Snow that Sen. Russ Feingold’s call for Bush censure should be treated with ``contempt.’'

SHARE Cheney: Tells Fox’s Tony Snow that Sen. Russ Feingold’s call for Bush censure should be treated with ``contempt.’'

The White House did not want Democrats to dominate the news cycle talking about national security.

Vice President Cheney gave a telephone interview to Fox’s Tony Snow where they talked about, among other items, the censure call made by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisc.)

Feingold did not find many Democrats joining him in his censure bid.

Cheney suggested the Republicans may want to call Feingold’s bluff.

Said Cheney: “ I, for one, am inclined to think that the best way to treat it is with a certain amount of contempt. My guess is that if it were to come to a vote, and that were the issue, then, in fact, a vast majority of Democrats would vote against it. I think they’d be embarrassed to have to even consider it.”



Office of the Vice President


For Immediate Release March 29, 2006



11:45 A.M. EST

Q Welcome back. Joining me now the Vice President of the United

States, Dick Cheney. Mr. Vice President, thanks for joining us.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Hello, Tony. It’s good to talk to you.

Q So the Democrats now have a plan. They call it Real Security:

The Democratic Plan to Protect America and Restore Our Leadership in the

World. As far as I can tell, there is nothing in here that actually

talks about attacking the bad guys. But let’s talk about some of the

things that at least have been mentioned in recent days and weeks by

Democrats — number one, the idea of strategic withdrawal from Iraq in

order to “strengthen our position in the region.”

My question to you is, is there any difference in your mind between

strategic withdrawal and retreat?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, and, frankly, that would be exactly what

Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda types have been predicting and betting

on all along — it’s the idea that if they kill enough Americans, they

can force us to change our policy. It would be a strategic retreat. It

makes no sense at all to turn Iraq over to the terrorists. We can

succeed in Iraq. We can complete the mission. We are making progress

day by day. It’s tough, hard work, but it’s very important that we

prevail there, just as we’re prevailing in Afghanistan.

Q You mentioned bin Laden who likes to talk about strong horse

versus weak horse. He has predicted that the United States would become

a weak horse. Are you saying that the Democrats, rather than as they

have promised to do, to capture bin Laden, that they’d be giving in to

him instead?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t think there’s any question about that

if you were to withdraw from Iraq. The al Qaeda presence there is

significant. Mr. Zarqawi, the top terrorist in Iraq, is the head of al

Qaeda in Iraq. He’s pledged loyalty to Osama bin Laden; that if we were

to withdraw from Iraq, I think the danger would be, obviously, that

you’d turn the country over to the worst possible elements, and it would

become a safe haven for terrorists. It makes no sense at all, and it’s

totally unnecessary.

Q I’ve talked to a number of people who have been in Iraq. The

same stories keep coming back, which is that Iraqis increasingly are

taking responsibility for military and police actions. Do you think

it’s conceivable or even likely that by the end of this year, there will

be fewer American troops on the ground in Iraq?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that’s a possibility, but we’ve

been very firm, Tony, in refusing to put a timetable on it. We talk

about it in terms of conditions on the ground. Obviously, there are a

number of things happening that should result in that kind of outcome

down the road. One is the progress that’s being made on the political

front as the Iraqis put together a government under their new

constitution, and they’re working on that very hard, day in and day out;

and the other is the progress that’s being made training Iraqi security

forces and getting them into the fight.

They’re now taking more and more responsibility for their own

security. And those two developments are key ultimately to our being

able to turn the situation over to them.

Q Today’s release by Democrats contains a lot of second-guessing

about what led up to the war and the early execution of it, including

the notion that it was based on faulty security. Recently a number of

documents that had been retrieved from Iraq have been translated, and

what we’re starting to get is a picture of Saddam Hussein actively

involved in training terrorists, and even talking about weapons of mass

destruction. Is it possible that we actually underestimated Saddam’s

involvement in the international terror network?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, some of us didn’t. I think there are —

there’s been a debate, obviously, and we’ve got a lot of folks who don’t

believe that there was any kind of a relationship there between al Qaeda

and Saddam Hussein. I think the record is abundantly clear that Saddam

Hussein was, in fact, a prime sponsor of terror. This is the guy who

was making $25,000 payments to the families of suicide bombers. This is

the guy who provided a safe haven for Abu Nidal. The track record there

is very clear.

George Tenet, Director of the CIA, went before the Senate Intel

Committee at one point and said there was a relationship between Iraq

and the al Qaeda that went back to the early ’90s. So I think what

we’ll find as we get a chance to go through and analyze these documents

— there’s some 50,000 boxes of them that are now being made available

here over the next few months — that we’ll see a pretty complete

picture that Saddam Hussein did, in fact, deal with some pretty

nefarious characters out there. And he was legitimately labeled by our

State Department as a state sponsor of terror.

Q Including Osama bin Laden?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, we don’t know the full scale of it there

yet, and I don’t want to make a hard and fast prediction here. But

there is reporting, obviously, that we’ve seen over the years that there

was some kind of a relationship there between the Iraqis and Osama bin


Q I want to be clear because I’ve heard you say this, and I’ve

heard the President say it, but I want you to say it for my listeners,

which is that the White House has never argued that Saddam was directly

involved in September 11th, correct?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s correct. We had one report early on

from another intelligence service that suggested that the lead hijacker,

Mohamed Atta, had met with Iraqi intelligence officials in Prague,

Czechoslovakia. And that reporting waxed and waned where the degree of

confidence in it, and so forth, has been pretty well knocked down now at

this stage, that that meeting ever took place. So we’ve never made the

case, or argued the case that somehow Osama bin Laden [sic] was directly

involved in 9/11. That evidence has never been forthcoming. But there

— that’s a separate proposition from the question of whether or not

there was some kind of a relationship between the Iraqi government,

Iraqi intelligence services and the al Qaeda organization.

Q Democrats also argue that they’re going to improve

intelligence gathering, at the same time they have opposed the National

Security Agency’s previous program of trying to conduct surveillance on

electronic communications from al Qaeda — known al Qaeda operatives,

whether they’re abroad or in the United States, and people within the

United States. If that program had not been in place, would Americans

have died?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s my opinion, Tony. I think, in fact,

the terrorist surveillance program has been very helpful in disrupting

attacks planned by the al Qaeda organization. I think it has, in fact,

saved lives.

The thing I’m intrigued by — they talk about wanting to improve

intelligence — one of their more prominent senators, Russ Feingold, has

introduced a resolution of censure, trying to censure the President

because he authorized this particular program. It’s a great program.

It’s very important to the safety and security of the United States. I

believe it has saved lives, and it ought to be supported, not


Q Would you like to see Senate leaders go ahead and call Senator

Feingold’s bluff by bringing his censure resolution to the floor for a


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, they’ve got to decide how they’re going

to handle that themselves. I, for one, am inclined to think that the

best way to treat it is with a certain amount of contempt. My guess is

that if it were to come to a vote, and that were the issue, then, in

fact, a vast majority of Democrats would vote against it. I think

they’d be embarrassed to have to even consider it.

Q The other thing — one of the other striking things of the

Democratic plan is that they would get bin Laden. Do you think they

know how to do it?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think one of the difficulties we’ve

got is that a number of the prominent folks on the other side — and I

don’t question their patriotism or their loyalty — but I do think many

of them what I call a pre-9/11 mind set. They’ve got a tendency to look

at the terrorist attacks, for example, in terms of law enforcement and

only law enforcement. We saw it back in the ’90s where we had a series

of attacks against the U.S. or against our interests overseas, and no

effective response except in a few cases we were able to arrest

individuals and prosecute them; fired off a few cruise missiles once at

a training camp in Afghanistan.

But it was only after 9/11, and the President’s determination to

very aggressively go after these guys, to go after the terrorists, to go

shut down their training camps, to go after states that sponsor terror,

like Afghanistan. It was only that aggressive posture, as well as the

homeland security measures we took here at home that I think have

protected the U.S. from another attack.

We can’t guarantee there won’t be another one, obviously, but we’ve

gone over four years now. And I think it’s been because we’ve been

fighting them on their turf instead of having to fight them here on the

streets of our own cities. I don’t think —

Q But you don’t seriously think they’ve got a secret plan for

getting bin Laden?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I don’t. And I don’t believe that — if you

look at John Kerry, who was their candidate in the last election, or Ted

Kennedy, I don’t think they believe that the aggressive kind of posture

we’ve been pursuing is the right one. I happen to disagree with them.

I think being aggressive and using all of the means at our command to go

after the terrorists on their own turf is crucial.

Q Okay. A couple of things, I think a couple of minutes ago —

I want to make sure — you said Osama bin Laden wasn’t involved in 9/11

planning. You meant Saddam Hussein, correct? That Saddam Hussein was

not involved in September 11th?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Correct. Yes, sir.

Q Okay.

THE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Thanks for straightening that out. I didn’t

realize I’d done that. (Laughter.)

Q Yes. Well, otherwise we’d have a whole lot more stories to

deal with.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Oh, yes. All right. Well, I appreciate it.

Q Some radioactive stuff got across the border the other day.

We were doing a test, and it turned out that somebody faked some

paperwork. Are you confident that we are going to be able to put

together security measures that make it impossible — or make it at

least unlikely that somebody is going to be able to bring into this

country the stuff necessary to create either a dirty bomb or a nuclear


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re spending a lot of time on that,

and I think we’re getting better at it all the time. These kinds of

tests, I’m sure, were embarrassing for some folks. On the other hand,

it’s the way you really pulse the system and find your weak spots. And

in this particular case, I’m told, and had a conversation with somebody

about it just this morning, that we were able to detect the material

coming across. What broke down was the people bringing it across had

some phony documents that were not detected.

Q Exactly.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: And so that leads us down another avenue in

terms of having to improve our overall systems. But I think that

running those kinds of tests is important. I think, clearly, they

uncovered a problem here and the problem is now being addressed.

Q What do you make of proposals to put up a wall between the

United States and Mexico? For it or against it?

VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Well, I’m not sure it’s the best way to

proceed. I think there are parts of the border down there where a fence

or a wall of some kind makes sense, and they’ve done some around San

Diego, for example, that have worked well. It depends. In an urban

setting, lots of times, that’s the only effective way to be able to

control the border. There are other places — out in the wide open

spaces — that border is hundreds and hundreds of miles long — where

you’re better off using modern technology — unmanned aerial vehicles,

for example, with night vision capability that lets you patrol large

areas and — remotely and direct your assets and your resources more

effectively. So really it depends on the circumstances what the right

answer is.

Q Mr. Vice President, got a half a minute, the last question —

do you think Democrats are playing with fire in this? Do you think this

attempt to come up with a security strategy is going to backfire on


THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it is, because if you look at —

let me just give you one example. They talk about improving our

security, and yet, Harry Reid went out and bragged about killing the

Patriot Act. Fortunately, they didn’t get it killed. We were able to

beat them on it. But their behavior has been totally inconsistent with

what they’re now promising they’re going to do.

Q All right, Mr. Vice President.

(Sound bite is played.)

Q Thanks for joining us.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right. Good to talk to you.

The Latest
As bad as the Broncos are, they have two things the Bears don’t: One of the shrewdest coaches in the game in Sean Payton and a nine-time Pro Bowl quarterback in Russell Wilson.
What does it say about the state of the nation when a president, with decades of experience in politics, feels compelled to make speech after speech reminding us that we all have a stake in protecting the American experiment?
The Red Line extension will provide Chicago’s South Side with the high-frequency, accessible and affordable rapid transit service people deserve.
Senior Nasir McKenzie had his second straight 200-yard game on Friday as the No. 11 Huskies beat No. 19 Prospect 28-3.