I’ve been casually observing the former Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney as he embarks on his book tour for In My Time, his personal memoir covering some forty years of public life. I watched the softball interview he had with NBC’s Jamie Gangel. I saw a question or two from Matt Laurer, slightly tougher in tone. This morning Cheney got his toughest interview to date from the crew at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe”.
What absolutely floored me took place at the 19 minute 45 second mark when Mike Barnacle asked Cheney how he could let Osama bin Laden slip through his fingers at Tora Bora in 2001.
Cheney’s response was that the commander in the field felt that “the locals could deal with that particular problem.” Excuse me? That particular problem? That particular problem was public enemy number 1, the man single most responsible for 9/11. How could we possibly leave his capture up to the “locals”? How could any commander in Afghanistan at the time not be under strict orders to do anything and everything to capture Osama bin Laden?
My suspicion is that the commanders weren’t given these priorities because the administration’s vendetta against Saddam Hussein was already in full swing and Osama bin Laden, our real enemy, was off our radar. What blows my mind is Cheney’s ability to go on national television without an ounce of remorse and admit to gross incompetence. Perhaps what is worse is that no follow-up question came from the “Morning Joe” panel. Something along the lines of “Dick, are you kidding me?”
Until some interviewer asks Mr. Cheney if he is afraid to leave the country for fear of being prosecuted as a war criminal, I will consider his public grilling incomplete. The silver lining to this book tour would be if the proceeds from In My Time went to the survivors of the Iraq war dead. I won’t hold my breath. After all, we are talking about a man whose hunting buddy apologized for being in the path of Cheney’s bullets when he got shot in the face.