Monday, January 15, 2007

Chris Wallace Interviews Vice President Cheney (1-14-07)

White House Photo

Here are some excerpts of a 1-14-07 FOX NEWS interview with the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney.

The Vice President discussed how the terrorists hope to break our will.

He responded to an article in the The New York Times about domestic intelligence gathering by the Pentagon and CIA.

Chris Wallace mentioned that the Vice President's former Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, goes on trial this week.

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Polls change day by day, week by week. I think the vast majority of Americans want the right outcome in Iraq. The challenge for us is to be able to provide that. But you cannot simply stick your finger into the wind and say, gee, public opinion is against, we better quit. That is part and parcel of the underlying fundamental strategy that our adversaries believe afflicts the United States. They are convinced that the current debate in the Congress, that the election campaign last fall, all of that is evidence that they're right when they say the United States doesn't have the stomach for the fight in this long war against terror. They believe it. They look at past evidence of it and Lebanon in '83 and Somalia in '93, Vietnam before that. They're convinced that the United States will, in fact, pack it in and go home if they just kill enough of us. They can't beat us in the stand-up fight but they think they can break our will. And if we have a President who looks at the polls and sees the polls going south and concludes, oh, my goodness, we have to quit, all it will do is validate the al Qaeda view of the world. It's exactly the wrong thing to do. This President does not make policy based on public opinion polls. He should not. It's absolutely essential here that we get it right...

Q There's a report in The New York Times today that's been confirmed by administration officials the Pentagon and CIA have been obtaining financial records about hundreds of Americans suspected of involvement in either terrorism or espionage. Why involve the CIA and the Pentagon in domestic intelligence gathering?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, remember what these issues are. This is the question, as I understand it, of national security letters that allow us to collect financial information, for example, on suspected -- on people we have reason to suspect. The Defense Department gets involved because we've got hundreds of bases inside the United States that are potential terrorist targets. We've got hundreds of thousands of people, innocent Americans --

Q Why not let the FBI do that, sir?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: They can do a certain amount of it and they do. But the Department of Defense has a legitimate authority in this area. This is an authority that goes back three or four decades. It was reaffirmed in the Patriot Act that was renewed here about a year or so ago. It's a perfectly legitimate activity. There's nothing wrong with it or illegal. It doesn't violate people's civil rights. And if an institution that receives one of these national security letters disagrees with it, they're free to go to court to try to stop its execution. So there's -- this is a dramatic story, but I think it's important for people to understand here this is a legitimate security effort that's been underway for a long time and it does not represent a new departure from the standpoint of our efforts to protect ourselves against terrorist attack.

Q Your former Chief of Staff, Scooter Libby, goes on trial this coming week on charges of obstruction of justice and perjury. As I mentioned to Mrs. Cheney when she was here a few weeks ago, I happened to notice that you invited Mr. Libby to your Christmas party, which you also invited me to. Given his legal troubles, why?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Why what?

Q Why invite him to your party?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: He's a friend. He's a good man. He is one of the finest individuals I've ever known. And I did invite him to the Christmas party. The last two years he's been at our Christmas party. And before that, he was working for me.

Q Was he honest?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I believe he's one of the more honest men I know. He's a good man. And I obviously appreciate very much his service on my staff over the years and have very high regard for him and his family.

Q Libby's lawyers say they're going to call you as a witness, and we've had presidential scholars covering it. It appears it may be the first time ever that a sitting Vice President has testified in a criminal trial. Will you participate in a videotaped deposition or will you go into court and raise your right hand?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Chris, I'm not going to get into the trial. That's a matter that's before us. I have indicated from the very beginning my wholehearted cooperation with the investigation and with whatever legal proceedings emerge out of that, and this will all unfold here in the very near future.

Q Do you have any problem going into open court, sir?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm going to leave it where it's at. I'm not going to comment on the trial itself.

Q Now that it turns out that Libby wasn't the one who first leaked the name of Valerie Plame, what do you think of the one that he's the only one who's being prosecuted in this case?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I have strong views on the subject, but I'm not going to talk about it.

Q Let me ask you, because your wife, when she was on, and let's put it up on the screen, said, "It's bizarre and does not reflect well on our judicial system."

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to talk about it.

Q Do you agree with your wife?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: I'm not going to talk about it, Chris. I have strong feelings on the subject. I am likely to be a witness in this trial. It would be inappropriate for me at this point, shortly before the trial begins, to enter into a public dialogue with you about my views on --

Q But there's nothing that you have heard, nothing that you have read that shakes your confidence in Scooter Libby's integrity?

THE VICE PRESIDENT: That's correct.

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