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Vice President Cheney and Liz Cheney on the Dangers Facing America

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: We'd like to welcome back -- and we have 'em both at the same time today. This is a first, Vice President Cheney and Liz Cheney both joining us at the same time. Welcome to both of you. Welcome back to the program.

LIZ CHENEY: Well, thank you, Rush.

DICK CHENEY: How you doing, Rush?

LIZ CHENEY: Great to be on with you.

RUSH: You bet. Now, you guys have formed a group, a think tank. I want to know what it is. It's called the Alliance for a Strong America. I can pretty much guess why you've decided to do this now, but I want you to tell me why you're doing it, if there was one particular tipping point or issue that made you finally throw down the gauntlet and say you just had to do this.

DICK CHENEY: Well, I think one of the things that stimulated our thinking, Rush, and sort of brought it to a head -- we've been thinking a lot of this for some time -- is Liz and I took a trip to the Middle East a couple months ago and visited with a lot of friends out there, people I dealt with 25 years ago during Desert Storm. And we came away from that experience thoroughly depressed at the perception they have of the United States, in particular of the Obama administration. Lack of trust, lack of confidence in our leadership or our willingness to keep our commitments. Just a decided diminution of the ability of the United States to influence events in a key part of the world, for all kinds of reasons.

RUSH: They volunteered this, or did you interview them?

DICK CHENEY: I think it'd be fair to say they volunteered it. These are people I've known a long time and that I've kept up with over the years, and they all agreed to see us in advance. Liz worked that part of the world extensively when she was at the State Department and previous administrations, and you just came away with this sense of weakness, of lack of trust and confidence in the US; that the role that we historically have played as sort of the leading nation in terms of maintaining the peace and stability in the world was gone.

LIZ CHENEY: I think also, Rush, we were very much focused on this notion that we've clearly had presidents before in our history who've made bad choices and bad decisions, who've had disastrous policies in some instances. But what's happening now is different because you've got really for the first time in our history a president who seems to be choosing to take us down that path.

Charles Krauthammer's talked about, you know, the fact that the president has chosen decline, and you look around the world. You know, whether you're talking about what's happening today in Iraq, what's happening today in the Middle East -- the threat from Al-Qaeda is a very serious, significant, strategic, growing threat to the security of the nation -- and we felt like it was time to do more than just talk about the danger of this president's policies.

But really to begin to form an organization that could become a center of gravity, that people could join who believe in a strong nation, who believe in returning America to a role of preeminence and power in the world and who know that we cannot afford to continue down this path the president's put us on where he basically tells lies to the nation about the threat we face, minimizes it -- and his policies, in the meantime, are making it much, much worse.

RUSH: Well, I was happy to hear Dr. Krauthammer suggest that Obama is managing a decline. I've been worried about this for three or four years, and I'm gonna go a step further. I don't think he's managing a decline, 'cause I think the natural tendency of the United States economy -- for example, like an airplane. The natural tendency is to grow. You have to sit on this economy if you want to suppress it.

The natural tendency of the American people is to expand, to grow, to improve themselves and everybody around them. Same thing with foreign policy. Some of this stuff doesn't seem like it's part of a natural decline. My fear is that this goes far beyond managing and is, in fact, purposeful because of a distorted view of this country that the president and people like him have about this country.

Being unjust and immoral and, "We have no business, we're colonialists, we're imperialists!" We fight now kidnapped girls in Nigeria with hashtags and we want people to take us seriously? You know, some of this stuff is just beyond belief. So it's good that you're doing this, but what is the practical application of your group? Who's gonna join? What are you gonna do?

LIZ CHENEY: Well, there's a number of different things. First of all, it's clear to us that we've got the problem that you're laying out, which is absolutely right. I think the president's actions are very intentional. He wants to take America down a notch. He doesn't believe in American exceptionalism. So what we're doing initially is we're gonna be a place where people can come to get ammunition, frankly, to make the arguments.

To be able to say, "Wait a second, this is why American power matters." We want to be a place that can help to buck people up, to lay out the policy discussions, to lay out this side of the policy debate, so that people's voices can be heard. People can sign up on our website, which is StrongerAmerica.com, in order to get information about all the important national security issues of the day.

We also are very focused on what's happening in our own party, and you've got a concerning isolationist trend, and we want to fight back against that as well. So we're gonna be a group that is about educating people, about advocating for the right policies. We hope to be able to turn some of these bad policies around in the next two years, and then we're gonna be focused on 2016 and helping to make sure that we get a nominee in our party who understands the importance of restoring American strength and power around the world.

RUSH: That is an interesting observation you just made about the rising isolationist tendencies in the Republican Party. The Republican Party has almost become dormant in this area and in some areas as well as economically, domestically. Do you all have any thoughts on why our how this happened, when it began, and what it is that's fueling this... this... It looks like fear to me. I don't know how you would characterize it, but --

DICK CHENEY: As I look at it, Rush, I'm very concerned about it. Part of it, I think, is sort of a natural result after the years since 9/11, when we have to put in place some very tough policies in order to keep the country safe from another mass-casualty attack, long involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The key to being able to sustain that kind of effort over time in part is leadership. And you need a president who will stand up and explain why it's necessary for us to continue to be on guard and to work at all of these various efforts in terms of keeping the nation safe. And, of course, you're not gonna get that out of Barack Obama. What you get from him is somebody...

Well, I remember when they first went into office. One of the first things they announced was they were gonna investigate and potentially prosecute the personnel at the CIA who had been running our counterterrorism program for us and our enhanced-interrogation techniques. I really think part of the problem is that you've got a president who doesn't share the consensus that both parties have had to some extent in the past, certainly since World War II, that the US has to be strong militarily.

It has to operate as a leader of the free world, in effect. We've had different levels of commitment to that, obviously. Some have been better than others. But I don't think Barack Obama believes any of that. I think he's got a whole different perception about the world and our role in it, and without strong leadership at the top we end up in a situation where, in fact, he's taken us backwards, as you say.

RUSH: Well, it's not just foreign policy and geopolitics. It's also economics. When you withdraw from the world, when the United States withdraws from the world... You remember back in the Desert Storm days all the catcalls about "blood for oil." Well, one of the responsibilities going into Kuwait was to maintain the free flow of oil at market prices, an economic issue. Only the US can do that. The more we withdraw from the world and become isolationists like some in the Republican Party are doing, the greater the economic damage. Not just to us, the rest of the world as well. This seems to be forgotten or missed by a lot of people as well.

LIZ CHENEY: It does, and I think that the other piece of it that people miss is there's a tendency sometimes to hear people say, "Well, look, we've got enough economic challenges here at home. We need to just come home and focus on those," and that completely ignores the threat to the economy and the potential devastation to the economy of another terrorist attack.

The idea that you've now got this group, ISIS, that is basically creating Al-Qaedistan -- they're creating a terrorist safe haven that will basically be a country of its own; they don't respect the borders now -- from which they can train people, from which they can provide safe haven, from which they can provide attacks. It's the wealthiest terrorist organization that's ever existed. They now control more territory than any terrorist organization ever has. It is a very significant and serious threat to our freedoms, to our security, and to our economy.

RUSH: It's very possible that had Obama had his way in Syria that this same group would have been running it. He was blaming Bashar Assad for whatever transgressions are being made and drew this red line, and had he succeeded in getting Assad out of power, guess who would be in power? This same group, ISIS, in Syria! I just can't believe he's unaware of that, that he is just naive and ignorant. It's gotta be more than that. Anyway, can you guys hang on? I gotta take a quick break.

DICK CHENEY: Sure.

LIZ CHENEY: Absolutely.

RUSH: We'll come back and we'll continue. We have Dick Cheney, Vice President Cheney and his daughter, Liz, with us.

And we will be right back.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Welcome back, folks, and we are joined today by Vice President Cheney and Liz Cheney, both of them on the phone. Mr. Vice President, I have a question. This personally bothers me. The last three years -- and maybe you could say the whole second term of the Bush administration -- the Democrat Party and willing accomplices in the media every day did their best to secure negative opinion about our involvement in Iraq, tried to saddle the country with defeat, called General Petraeus a liar before he'd even testified. I mean, you remember it. And not once did any of you in the Bush administration respond to any of it. You just kept your heads down and kept trying to execute the policy and secure victory, came up with the surge, and it proved successful.

But for four years the body count, every potential negative was just hammered at the American people to the point that they began to think the whole thing was illegitimate, not worth it, and a waste of time. Now we move forward to just the past couple of months and it's all falling apart. President Bush has not said a word. And I know he thinks that it sullies the office to do so. But does it frustrate you at all that there hasn't been any -- as Obama trashes what you did -- I mean, he's the one who decimated the military, not Al-Qaeda. He claims he decimated Al-Qaeda. They're not decimated. He didn't cause them to run to the hills and disband. It's outrageous and never once has there been any push-back on any of this now for multiple number of years.

DICK CHENEY: Well, the president, obviously, has made his own decision with respect to how much he wants to get involved. That's his call. I don't mean to be critical of it. He basically decided to follow the same path his dad had with respect to the Clinton administration. I'm not bound by those limits, Rush. I don't accept it. I do want to get out there and mix it up, and that's part of the reason what we're operating with here. And I think there's sort of a natural tendency there, obviously. We've got critics on the other side. We had Harry Reid, I can remember, announcing at the very beginning of the surge into Iraq -- this would have been in early '07 -- taking the Senate floor to announce that it was a failure, complete defeat, wasn't gonna work. Well, obviously he didn't know what he was talking about. There's a lot to overcome there if you, in fact, are gonna push, well, things like the programs that I was closely associated with, enhanced interrogation and so forth. So you've gotta get out there and be honest and forthright with the American people --

RUSH: Well, they were trying to -- (crosstalk)

DICK CHENEY: -- but lots of times you're also dealing in classified areas, and you can't really talk about --

RUSH: Right.

DICK CHENEY: -- the success stories that came from some of those programs.

RUSH: Well, Harry Reid and the like, it's exactly what I'm talking about. All they were doing was trying to push public opinion down --

DICK CHENEY: Right.

RUSH: -- and poison the minds of the American people. Now that this has happened, now that Iraq -- I mean, it is outrageous to anybody that has paid any attention to this, it is outrageous what is happening. I mean, you talk to people that have families members and troops that were there, who are watching this, they're asking themselves why, what did we risk everything for? And then to add insult to injury, you got people trying to say that you are responsible for this, I mean, you and the Bush administration, because there was never any legitimate reason to go in there in the first place. And the people make that allegation I think willfully ignore what the justification for going in was. But how do you react to that criticism, that this is ultimately your responsibility or fault?

DICK CHENEY: Well, I think the point that needs to be made, Rush, we got the current dustup over Iraq. The problem's much bigger than just Iraq. One of the things that was a major concern in the aftermath of 9/11, especially when we got involved with Iraq, was the possibility of a follow-on terrorist attack with something far deadlier than airline tickets and box cutters, and that concern is even greater today. We've just had, for example, a major attack on the Karachi airport by the Taliban inside Pakistan. Why worry about that? Well, Pakistan has somewhere between 50 and a hundred nuclear weapons.

The point at which the terrorists get their hands on that kind of deadly technology, you know, may not be very far away, and it's more important than ever that we be actively and aggressively engaged over there in these kinds of issues. Those were our same concerns we had when we went into Iraq, because we had a guy with a track record of producing and using weapons of mass destruction, he had ties to terror, and we anticipated that that was where there was most likely to be a link-up between the two.

Now, once we got rid of Saddam Hussein, we had Moammar Khadafy come forward and surrender his nuclear materials. We have all of those. We also then shut down the black market operation that had supplied Khadafy, and it also helped the Iraqis and the North Koreans with their weapons of mass destruction program. So the problem actually, that basic, fundamental principle or theme runs all the way through from when went into Iraq to what we're having to deal with now in the Middle East to the possibility that someplace like Pakistan, for example, or even Syria, remember it wasn't that long ago that we discovered that the North Koreans had built a nuclear reactor for the Syrians. Thank goodness the Israelis took it out before they could take advantage of it.

RUSH: You think we need to be working with Iran to clean up the mess in Iraq?

LIZ CHENEY: I'll answer that one, Dad. First of all, on the issue of Iran, I think the notion that somehow the Iranians have any interests in common with us is outrageous. The talk about the fact that we might be working with the Iranians, again, just gives our allies, you know, they're apoplectic. They don't understand what we're doing. And this notion of sort of who's to blame. I think it's really important also that we recognize the next president is gonna have a heck of a challenge and task to clean up the mess left by this administration.

You've gotta look at the facts, which are, you know, from the beginning of the administration, this president has walked away. This president has abandoned our allies. He's apologized for the nation. He has appeased our enemies, and we've gotta learn the lessons of that. We've gotta recognize that what's happening today in Iraq, what's happening today across the rest of the Middle East, what will happen in Afghanistan if he follows through on his promise to withdraw there, are all a direct consequence of the policies he's been following.

And people have been warning about those policies ever since he came into office. People have been warning that weakness is provocative and it invites the aggression of our enemies. And if we don't learn those lessons, the next president will not, frankly, be able to get us out of the hole that we've now found ourselves in. So we do have to be very clear about cause and effect. When the Bush administration left office, Iraq was stable.

The US military said they needed 20,000 troops in country in order to maintain the stability. And the White House said no. They said, "All right, how about 10?" The White House said no. The White House said "you can have 3,500 troops," and they told Maliki that he had to get any agreement, any SOFA agreement through his parliament. Now, you know, when the president says, "Well, I tried to get a SOFA agreement," it's just not true. He didn't want one, he wanted out, and their rejection of the commanders' recommendations on the ground tells you that he just wanted out.

RUSH: Let me step in. I've simply run out of time but your timing there, Liz, was superb. I just want to remind people again of your new organization. It's the Alliance for a Strong America, and the website is StrongerAmerica.com. And people can learn exactly what you're doing by clicking and surfing there. Thank you both very much for being with us today. It's always a pleasure.

END TRANSCRIPT

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