Cheney: Bush's review of my book "appropriate"

This former Vice President and businessman managed to flunk out of Yale University not once, but twice. Former President George W. Bush (Yale '68) said jokingly at the school's commencement ceremony in 2001: "A Yale degree is worth a lot, as I often remind [Cheney]. So now we know -- if you graduate from Yale, you become president. If you drop out, you get to be vice president."
UPDATED at 2:43 p.m. ET

Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday dismissed a lack of praise from his former boss, President George W. Bush, for his memoir that is critical of many ex-colleagues who worked with both of them.

The former president has said he is glad that members of his "family" are writing about their experiences working for the Bush administration, and offered that "objective historians" would make their own conclusions about what happened in the eight years he was in power.

"Well, I thought (that comment) was appropriate under the circumstances," Cheney told host Bob Schieffer in an interview on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"I said some very nice things about President Bush because I thought he was an effective president. I thought he was very good in terms of making very bold, very tough decisions. And so I was satisfied with the response," Cheney said.

The former vice president said he has not spoken to Mr. Bush since "In My Time" was released in late August, though the two did speak just prior, when Cheney provided an advance copy to the former president.

Cheney also defended his belief that his former aide Scooter Libby should have been pardoned by Mr. Bush.

"I argued strenuously on Scooter's behalf. I really thought he got bum deal that he should not have been indicted," Cheney told Schieffer, though he declined to repeat his allegation from the book that Mr. Bush did not have the "courage" to pardon Libby. Libby, who was Cheney's chief of staff, was convicted in 2007 of lying and obstructing a leak investigation into the outing of CIA spy Valerie Plame in 2003.

Cheney also shot back at former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who said Cheney "overshot the runway" with his criticism of Powell in the book.

In the book, Cheney asserts that Powell, during his tenure as Secretary of State, declined to fully present his positions to Mr. Bush.

Powell disputes that, noting in an August 28 appearance on "Face the Nation" that "Mr. Cheney may forget that I'm the one who said to President Bush, 'If you break it you own it,'" referencing the administration's imminent invasion of Iraq.

Cheney said he did not believe Powell had read the book when he made those comments to Schieffer last month.

The book "had just come out, I don't think he had access to a copy. But I said some very good things about General Powell, and his role as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," during the administration of President George H.W. Bush.

"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," Mr. Cheney said Sunday.

Cheney was defense secretary in 1989 when then-President George H.W. Bush chose Powell to be the nation's highest ranking military officer. The Pentagon boss generally makes a recommendation for the post, but the commander-in-chief has final say.

A long-time aide to Powell has accused Cheney of attacking his former colleagues as a defensive posture because the former vice president is afraid of being prosecuted as a war criminal.

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as chief of staff to Powell when he was Secretary of State during the first term of President George W. Bush, said Cheney has changed into an unrecognizable figure since his time at the Pentagon two decades ago.

"He's developed an angst and almost a protective cover, and now he fears being tried as a war criminal," Wilkerson told ABC News last month, "because that's the way someone who's decided he's not going to be prosecuted acts: boldly, let's get out in front of everybody, let's act like we are not concerned and so forth, when in fact they are covering up their own fear that somebody will 'Pinochet' him."

Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet was arrested for war crimes years after relinquishing power.

  • Corbett Daly On Twitter» Deputy Politics Editor Corbett B. Daly is based in Washington. He has worked at Reuters, Thomson Financial News and CBS MarketWatch.