"Face the Nation" transcript: September 18, 2011
SCHIEFFER: Have you talked to the president since you published the book?
CHENEY: I talked to him when I sent him an early version of it, an early copy couple of weeks ago before it came out, but I haven't talked to him since.
SCHIEFFER: You haven't talked to him since?
SCHIEFFER: How do you judge your relationship with the president right now? And I say that because Barton Gellman, who wrote a biography on you, "Angler," said your book shows mutual disillusionment that developed between you and President Bush. Is that accurate?
CHENEY: No, I don't think it is. I didn't think Gellman's original book was all that accurate either. I believe it's called "Angler," which is my Secret Service code name. He got that part right. I think the book is, well, it's what I experienced what I saw, what I believed. It covers my entire life, especially the 40 years I spent in Washington, and I had a lot of fun doing it. It was meant as a historical perspective. I wanted to put down from my perspective the record of a lot of the events I engaged in, going all the way back to the Nixon administration, the Ford administration, both Bush administrations, my time in Congress. And that was my objective.
SCHIEFFER: You were though clearly disappointed, and said so in the book, with the president's refusal to pardon your friend and your top aide Scooter Libby, who had been charged with obstruction of justice and perjury growing out of this whole controversy with Valerie Plame and all of that.
And here's what you said: "George Bush made courageous decisions as president, and to this day I wish that pardoning Scooter Libby had been one of them." Is that a way of saying that he didn't have the courage to pardon...?
CHENEY: No, it's a way of saying... It means exactly what it said. The fact is, I argued strenuously on Scooter's behalf. I really thought he got a bum deal, that he should not have been indicted. We had this whole hoo-hah about who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the press. It was Rich Armitage, the deputy Secretary of State. Nothing ever happened to Rich. Instead they spent two and a half years and finally got to the point where they could try to indict Scooter, but I thought he deserved a pardon. Now in fairness to the president, the president heard me out on that subject on a number of occasions. He let me speak my peace. In the end he made the decision - that's his prerogative. He's President of the United States. The last time we talked about it was the last lunch we had in January of '09.
And I've got to give the president credit. There were a number of occasions where we disagreed. That's not surprising, I've disagreed with every president I've ever worked for. He was good about letting me have my say, and then he'd make his decision.
SCHIEFFER: But to say that you wish he had the courage to do this - isn't that a really harsh way to put it? I mean, maybe he thought he had the courage to do what he thought was right.
CHENEY: I'm sure he did. I had strong feelings about the subject. I really, well I make the case in the book. That's the only time I've ever said anything about the case or written about it is in that book. I held my fire throughout all of those months of investigations and trials and so forth. What we found out after the fact was that Rich Armitage was the source of leak. Not Scooter Libby, not anybody on my staff. All of my staff had been drug before the grand jury and had to hire lawyers and go through that process, while the guys over at State knew what happened and never said anything about it to anybody.
SCHIEFFER: One of the people who in the administration who reacted pretty strongly to some of your allegations was Colin Powell, because you had suggested in the book it's probably a good thing that he left, that he didn't go into the second term ... he also said basically you overshot the runway with some of your allegations, and that you took a lot of cheap shots. But he said a few other things and I want to play you just a little sound bite of one thing he said because I want to get your reaction to it:
Video Clip from "Face the Nation," 8.29.11::
COLIN POWELL: "He says that I went out of my way not to present my positions to the President but to take them outside of the administration. That's nonsense. The President knows and I had told him what I thought about every issue of the day. Mister Cheney may forget that I'm the one who said to President Bush 'If you break it, you own it, and you've got to understand that if we have to go to war in Iraq, we've to be prepared for the whole war, not just the first phase.' And Mister Cheney and many of his colleagues were not prepared for what happened after the fall of Baghdad.
SCHIEFFER: And that, that's what I want to ask you about. This idea - you don't write much about what happened after the fall of Baghdad, because a lot of people in the administration were thinking this was going to be a walk in the park and it turned out to be anything but. Do you think in retrospect you could have done something different or some things could have been done better than they were?
CHENEY: Well, I think, first of all, in terms of what I chose to write - I had enough material, Bob, for four or five books. Forty years in this town, you pick up a lot of material. And, but I was doing one book, I wanted to keep it under 600 pages, which is the guidance that I'd received from the experts.
And with respect to General Powell, I had the impression in terms of the comments he made that he hadn't read the book at the time that he made the comments. It had just come out. I don't think he had access to a copy. But I said some very good things about General Powell, in his role as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. We worked together in the Pentagon through Desert Storm and so forth. I selected him to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So I think that was a good relationship, it worked well. Then fast forward to the time when I'm Vice President and he's Secretary of State, it didn't work as well. And that's basically what I reported on in the book.
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