Sunday on Face the Nation: Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney

Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney

This Sunday's Guests are former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President Bill Clinton.

Dick Cheney promised that "heads would be exploding all over Washington" in reaction to his new memoir, "In My Time," and from the response, if heads aren't exploding, they are certainly turning. Starting with his day on September 11, 2001, to telling the story of his birth in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1941, Cheney tells his life's story in the book and doesn't shy away from some of the more contentious issues that defined his most well known role, that of vice president under President George W. Bush.

In the book, Cheney tells the story of trying not to be Bush's running mate. "I was so serious about talking him out of picking me that my family was confident I would come back from the meeting having taking myself off the list," he wrote about a July 15, 2000 meeting in Austin.

But once Cheney was picked, the response to the 9/11 attacks, particularly the war in Iraq remains the issue that Cheney may be most remembered for. "We needed to go after the terrorists where they lived, rooting them out before they could attack. And we needed to hold those who gave them sanctuary and support responsible," he wrote. Turning to the threat posed by Iraq, Cheney says there was "a steady drumbeat of intelligence warnings about the threat posed by Saddam."

"One of the first intelligence reports that George Bush and I received in late 2000 before we were sworn in was a far-ranging assessment of Iraq's activities concerning weapons of mass destruction. Although the report itself remains classified, the title does not. It was called Iraq: Steadily Pursuing WMD Capabilities," he wrote.

Cheney defended the administration's handling of the claim that Iraq was seeking uranium from Niger and the aftermath of an op-ed written by former ambassador Joe Wilson about his trip to the African country saying the claim was false. "After the op-ed appeared, there was a debate inside the White House, and at least one discussion in the Oval Office, about whether we should apologize for the inclusion of "the sixteen words" in the president's State of the Union speech....An apology would only fan the flames, and why apologize when the British had, in fact, reported that Iraq had sought a significant amount of uranium in Africa? The sixteen words were true," wrote Cheney, emphasizing the last phrase in the book.

Much of the head turning, or exploding, though has come from Cheney's recollection of events involving other top Bush administration officials.

"Getting a new secretary of state was a top priority," Cheney said about Colin Powell. "I was particularly disappointed in the way he handled policy differences. Time and again I heard that he was opposed to the war in Iraq. Indeed, I continue to hear it today. But never once in any meeting did I hear him voice objection. It was as though he thought the proper way to express his views was by criticizing administration policy to people outside the government," added the former Vice President.

On Face the Nation last month, Powell called those comments "cheap shots" after telling Bob Schieffer that Cheney's own description of the book as being "explosive" was more apt for a gossip column or a supermarket tabloid, not a memoir from a former vice president. "I mean, several one he-- he tosses at me, you know, he takes a great credit for my resignation in 2004. Well, President Bush and I had always agreed that I would leave at the end of 2004. After the election, I stayed on three more months because I-- I wanted to and because there were conferences that I wanted to attend and because Doctor Rice hadn't been confirmed. So it's no news there. 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," added Powell.

But Powell was not alone. Cheney also gave his recollection of an incident with then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, about the administration's apology for the uranium claim.

"Rice realized sometime later that she made a major mistake by issuing a public apology. She came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right. Unfortunately, the damage was done," wrote Cheney. Rice disputes this ever happened. "It certainly doesn't sound like me, now, does it?" Rice told Reuters. "I would never--I don't remember coming to the vice president tearfully about anything in the entire eight years that I knew him," she added.

The reaction to Cheney's book, his relationship with President Bush and his feelings on the current field of Republican presidential contenders will be among the topics discussed as the former vice president sits down with Bob Schieffer Sunday.

This weekend, Bob will also talk to former President Bill Clinton in advance of next weeks' Clinton Global Initiative meeting in New York. The yearly meeting will feature several heads-of-state, fortune 500 CEOs and as usual, the current President, Barack Obama. One of the main focuses of the conference will be jobs and the world economy. What would Clinton do to create jobs? what advice he has for the current Democrat in the Oval Office? Are two questions likely to be at the top of Bob's list for the former President.

Foreign policy, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration, politics, the economy, and the last two decades of American history, will be among the issues this weekend and former Vice President Dick Cheney and former President Bill Clinton sit down with Bob Schieffer to Face the Nation.

  • Robert Hendin On Twitter»

    Robert Hendin is senior producer for "Face the Nation" and a CBS News senior political producer.