WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney said on Sunday he was unhappy with then-President George W. Bush’s refusal to pardon Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s onetime chief of staff who was convicted in the CIA leak case.
“I was clearly not happy that we, in effect, left Scooter sort of hanging in the wind,” Cheney said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union with John King.” He acknowledged a “fundamental difference of opinion” with Bush on the matter.
A federal jury in Washington convicted Libby of lying and obstructing an investigation into who blew the cover of CIA officer Valerie Plame, whose husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson, had criticized the Iraq war.
Bush earlier commuted Libby’s 2-1/2-year prison sentence but before leaving office in January, Bush refused to give Libby an outright pardon.
Cheney said Libby had been unjustly accused and deserved a pardon but Bush disagreed. It was one of the few areas that Cheney has publicly said he disagreed with Bush on during their eight years in the White House.
In other comments, Cheney continued his criticism of President Barack Obama’s national security policies, saying they “raise the risk to the American people of another attack.”
In one of his first acts after taking office, Obama vowed to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba within a year. It now holds about 240 terrorism suspects.
He also ordered more humane treatment for terrorism suspects and an end to renditions, the practice of transporting foreign detainees to other countries for interrogation.
On Friday, the Obama administration said it would no longer use the Bush-era term of “enemy combatant” for the Guantanamo detainees and it rejected Bush’s position that the president alone can order the suspects be held indefinitely without charge.
Cheney defended the policies adopted by the Bush administration in the war on terrorism as being done legally and in accordance with U.S. “constitutional practices and principles.”
“I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11,” he said.
Editing by Bill Trott