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Cheney: Israel Did Not Seek U.S. Clearance For Ground Attack

"I don't believe we violated anybody's civil liberties," Vice president Dick Cheney said on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, after host Bob Schieffer asked if the Bush administration had gone "too far" in surveillance.

Cheney said that the administration's surveillance program had been a success that "provided crucial intelligence for us. It's one of the main reasons we've been successful in defending the country against further attacks."

"This was all done in accordance with the president's constitutional authority under article two of the Constitution as commander in chief," he added.

"Do you believe the president, in time of war, that anything he does is legal?" Schieffer asked.

"I can't say that anything he does is legal," Cheney said. "I think we do and we have historic precedent of taking action which you wouldn't take in peacetime but that you will take sometimes in wartime in order to do the basic job that you sign up to when you take the oath of office – to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic."

"If you hark back in our history and look at Abraham Lincoln," Cheney continued, "who suspended the writ of Habeus Corups in the middle of the Civil War…"

"But nobody thinks that that was legal," Schieffer interjected.

"No – well, it certainly was in the sense he wasn't impeached," Cheney said. "And it was a wartime measure that he took that I think history says today yeah, that was probably a good thing to do."

Cheney said that Israeli did not seek approval from the U.S. before embarking in a ground invasion into Gaza.

"They didn't seek clearance or approval from us, certainly," he said.

"I think it's important to remember who the enemy is here. The enemy is not the Palestinians, from the perspective of the Israelis – it's Hamas," Cheney continued, when asked if the ground attack was a mistake. "…You've got a U.N. member state being attacked by a terrorist organization. And to go after that terrorist organization, I think they probably decided that an air campaign wasn't enough, that they had to go in on the ground if they were going to take down the sites from which the rockets had been launched against Israel."

Cheney called his comments "informed speculation."

"If there's to be a cease fire, you can't simply go back to the status quo anti, what it was a few weeks ago," he said. "Where you had a ceasfire recognized by one side but not adhered to by the other. It's got to be a sustainable, durable propsoiton, and Hamas has to stop rocketing Israel. And I don't think you can have a viable cease fire until their prepared to do that."

Schieffer asked Cheney if the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq had been handled badly.

"The original campaign was masterfully done," Cheney said. "…I think the thing that we underestimated, at least I underestimated, was the damage that had been done to the Iraqi population by all those years of Saddam's rule. So that there weren't any Iraqis early on who were willing to stand up and take responsibility for their own affairs. Anybody who had that kind of get up and go in earlier years had had their head chopped off. And I think we underestimated the damage that had been done during those years of Saddam's rule."

Cheney also urged the Obama administration 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 face we produced very significant results."

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