Cheney vs. Cheney

One of Dick Cheney's big arguments against US attorney general Eric Holder's CIA-interrogation probe is that the Justice Department has already closed the book on interrogation practices at the agency. Here's how Cheney put it in yesterday's Fox News Sunday interview:

[Holder's investigation] is based upon the inspector general's report that was sent to the Justice Department five years ago, was completely reviewed by the Justice Department in years past.

They made decisions about whether or not there was any prosecutable offense there. They found one. It did not involve CIA personnel, it involved contract personnel. That individual was sentenced and is doing time. The matter's been dealt with the way you would expect it to be dealt with by professionals.

Got that? The CIA investigated. Then Justice examined that investigation and found only one prosecutable offense. Case closed.

Problem is, later in the interview, Cheney fatally undercuts his own contention that the aforementioned Justice review has value. He does this by scoffing at the notion that Holder--and therefore the Justice Department--has any independence from the Obama Administration:

We had the president of the United States, President Obama, tell us a few months ago there wouldn't be any investigation like this, that there would not be any look back at CIA personnel who were carrying out the policies of the prior administration. Now they get a little heat from the left wing of the Democratic Party, and they're reversing course on that.

The president is the chief law enforcement officer in the administration. He's now saying, well, this isn't anything that he's got anything to do with. He's up on vacation on Martha's Vineyard and his attorney general is going back and doing something that the president said some months ago he wouldn't do.

Of course, there's no indication that Obama believes he's his own chief law-enforcement officer. It's an unusual interpretation.

What's important here, though, is that Cheney holds this belief. Since he does, we can infer that--during the previous administration-- George W. Bush (who isn't a lawyer, btw) was told by Cheney that he, not Alberto Gonzalez, was his own top law-enforcment official. We can also infer that Cheney shared this interpretation with Gonzalez and other Justice staffers.

So why, exactly, does Cheney now think he can cast the Bush DOJ's review of possible CIA abuse as some sort of disinterested, apolitical, and therefore definitive act?

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