4697423On CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, Vice President Dick Cheney told host Bob Schieffer that the Bush administration did not go "too far" in its surveillance program.
"I think what we did was one of the great success stories of the intelligence business in the last century," Cheney said. "I think what the National Security Agency did under General Mike Hayden, working with the CIA, at the direction of the president, was masterfully done. I think it provided crucial intelligence for us."
"It's one of the main reasons we've been successful in defending the country against further attacks," he continued. "And I don't believe we violated anybody's civil liberties."
"This was all done in accordance with the president's constitutional authority, under Article II of the Constitution, as commander in chief, with the resolution that was passed by the Congress immediately after 9/11," the vice president said. "And subsequently, we have gotten the legislative authority, signed up to last year, when we passed and modify the FISA statute."
"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 Habeas Corpus 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."
"There have been other examples, Lyndon -- or FDR, in World War II, when he provided for internment camps for Japanese-American citizens," Cheney said. "Most people now look back and say that was wrong. But what we did was modest by those comparisons. "
"And I would also emphasize that what we did, we did with the support and involvement, for example, of the Justice Department," Cheney added.
"We worked -- stayed close to the Office of Legal Counsel," he said. "We followed the guidance we got, which is what you're supposed to do and where you're supposed to do it. There have subsequently been some controversies that -- the Supreme Court's made some decisions that didn't agree with what we did at the time. But what we did was authorized by the legal authorities that were to be the source of that kind of advice."