Cheney: Bush's actions legal if not impeached

Andrew McLemore
Published: Sunday January 4, 2009

If you don't get punished, you didn't go anything wrong, right?

That's the message Vice President Dick Cheney gave in an interview with CBS' Bob Schieffer on Sunday, suggesting that a president's actions are legal if those actions didn't result in his impeachment.

Asked by Schieffer if he believed that anything the president does in time of war is legal, Cheney said there is "historic precedent of taking action that you wouldn't take in peacetime."

Cheney referenced Abraham Lincoln as an example of another president who "suspended the writ of habeus corpus" during a war, prompting this exchange:


SCHIEFFER: But nobody thinks that was legal.

CHENEY: Well, no. It certainly was in the sense he wasn't impeached. And it was a wartime measure that he took that I think history says today, yeah, that was probably a good thing to do.


The vice president spent much of the interview defending eight years of the Bush administration's policies, including its surveillance and interrogation programs.

When Schieffer asked if the Bush administration had gone "too far" in its surveillance program, Cheney said no.

"I don’t believe we violated anybody’s civil liberties," he said.

Cheney also urged President-elect Barack Obama to continue the Bush administration’s interrogation policies.

"I would hope [Obama] would avoid doing what others have done in the past, which is letting the campaign rhetoric guide his judgment in this absolutely crucial area," Cheney said. "We were very careful, we did everything by the book, and in fact we produced very significant results."

This video is from CBS' Face the Nation, broadcast Jan. 4, 2008.

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