Vice President Biden: Dick Cheney "Rewriting History"

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With former Vice President Dick Cheney scheduled to appear on Sunday on ABC's This Week with guest anchor Jonathan Karl where the former Vice President is expected to repeat his long-standing criticism of the Obama Administration's national security policies, Vice President Joe Biden played pre-emptive offense in a taped segment with Dick Gregory of NBC's Meet the Press. NBC released this excerpt of the interview:

DAVID GREGORY: Let me ask you about some of the criticism that's been leveled at this Administration by former Vice President Dick Cheney. He has argued that this Administration has failed to treat the fight against terrorists as war. He cites the decision related to Khalid Sheik Muhammad to offer him a civilian trail as one example. Giving the Christmas Day Bomber the privileges of the American criminal justice system is another example. The decision to shut down the Guantanamo Bay prison. What do you say?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Let me choose my words carefully here. Dick Cheney's a fine fellow. He's entitled to his own opinion. He's not entitled to rewrite history. He's not entitled to his own facts. The Christmas Day Bomber was treated the exact way that he suggested that the Shoe Bomber was treated. Absolutely the same way. Under the Bush Administration there were three trials in military courts. Two of those people are now walking the streets. They are free.

There were 300 trials of so-called terrorists and those who engage in terror against the United States of America who are in federal prison and have not seen the light of day. Prosecuted under the last Administration. Dick Cheney's a fine fellow, but he is not entitled to rewrite history without it being challenged. I don't know where he has been. Where was he the last four years of the last Administration?

DAVID GREGORY: What about the general proposition that the President according to former Vice President Cheney doesn't consider America to be at war and is essentially soft on terrorism? What do you say about that?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I don't think the Vice-- the Former Vice President Dick Cheney listens. The President of the United States said in the State of the Union, "We're at war with Al Qaeda." He stated this-- and by the way, we're pursuing that war with a vigor like it's never been seen before. We've eliminated 12 of their top 20 people. We have taken out 100 of their associates. We are making, we've sent them underground. They are in fact not able to do anything remotely like they were in the past. They are on the run. I don't know where Dick Cheney has been. Look, it's one thing, again, to-- to criticize. It's another thing to sort of rewrite history. What is he talking about?

DAVID GREGORY: You have often said, when I've asked you and others, that you never impugn a man's motives. But why do you think Dick Cheney is speaking out and being so critical of the President and the Administration so publicly?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I don't know. I-- I-- I'm not gonna guess about his motive. All I know is he's factually, substantively wrong. On the major criticisms he is asserting. Why he's insisting on that. He either is misinformed or he is misinforming. But the facts are that his assertions are not accurate.

DAVID GREGORY: You would not be this outspoken or critical when you're out of office. Is that fair to say?

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Well, I-- I-- I would hope I-- look, it's one thing to be outspoken. It's another thing to be outspoken in a way that misrepresents the facts. And I-- I guess-- again, I-- it's almost like Dick is trying to rewrite history. I can understand where the-- why that would be-- you know, an impulse. And maybe he isn't-- literally, I'm not being facetious. Maybe he's not fully informed of what's going on. I mean, the progress we have made. There has never been as much emphasis and resources brought against Al Qaeda. The success rate exceeds anything that occurred in the last Administration. And they did their best. I'm not-- I'm not impugning their effort. It's simply not true that the President of the United States is not prosecuting the war against Al Qaeda with a vigor that's never been seen before. It's real. It's deep. It's successful.

The Vice President's candor and frank assessment is a welcomed development. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and much of the GOP has been attempting to "rewrite history" and they need to be called on it. Vice President Biden was too generous when he stated that Cheney was either "misinformed or he is misinforming." It has always been the latter with Dick Cheney.

Mixed Signals on Iran

Speaking on ABC's This Week, Vice President Joe Biden had this exchange with George Stephanopoulos concerning possible Israeli military action aimed at taking out the Iranian nuclear program.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And meanwhile, Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it pretty clear that he agreed with President Obama to give until the end of the year for this whole process of engagement to work. After that, he's prepared to make matters into his own hands.

Is that the right approach?

BIDEN: Look, Israel can determine for itself -- it's a sovereign nation -- what's in their interest and what they decide to do relative to Iran and anyone else.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Whether we agree or not?

BIDEN: Whether we agree or not. They're entitled to do that. Any sovereign nation is entitled to do that. But there is no pressure from any nation that's going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed.

What we believe is in the national interest of the United States, which we, coincidentally, believe is also in the interest of Israel and the whole world. And so there are separate issues.

If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But just to be clear here, if the Israelis decide Iran is an existential threat, they have to take out the nuclear program, militarily the United States will not stand in the way?

BIDEN: Look, we cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination that they're existentially threatened and their survival is threatened by another country.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say we can't dictate, but we can, if we choose to, deny over-flight rights here in Iraq. We can stand in the way of a military strike.

BIDEN: I'm not going to speculate, George, on those issues, other than to say Israel has a right to determine what's in its interests, and we have a right and we will determine what's in our interests.

No one disputes the sovereign rights of Israel to act in its own interests. However the Vice President missed an opportunity to unequivocally warn that there would be consequences. As the New York Times notes the Vice President's remarks went "beyond at least the spirit of any public utterances by President Barack Obama, who has said that diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's nuclear program should be given to the end of the year." And given the Vice President's penchant for sometimes imprecise language, it was not immediately clear was whether Mr. Biden was sending an officially sanctioned message. More likely, he simply failed to convey the serious geo-political repercussions an Israeli attack on Iran is likely to bring. Alternatively, Vice President Biden may have been trying to send a message to Tehran, engage and be serious about it or watch out.

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The Roadmap to Recovery


The President and Vice President discuss plans to expedite Recovery Act spending on key projects over the summer to create more than 600,000 jobs. June 8, 2009.

Your thoughts? Have you seen any tangible benefits from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act in your community? What projects would you like to see go forward?

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Jill Biden's Candor

Dr. Jill Biden today on the Oprah Winfrey show said that her husband Joe Biden, the Vice President-elect, had been given a choice by the President-elect back in August of being either Vice President or Secretary of State. Apparently the gift of candor runs in the family. Well, at least, we now know how Joe Biden chose and we gained some insight into the decision-making process but one does wonder what if Joe Biden had chosen the other post, who would have been picked as the number two? I doubt it would have been Hillary Clinton.

From Jake Tapper's ABC News blog:

During the taping of the Oprah Winfrey show today, Dr. Jill Biden said that her husband, the vice president-elect, was given a choice of being either vice president or secretary of State.

This revelation came after Vice President-elect Joe Biden told Oprah that after then-Sen. Obama offered the job of VP he asked for some time to think about it and talk it over with his family.

Mrs. Biden interjected: "Joe had the choice of being secretary of State or vice president." She then seemed to realize she'd said something she wasn't supposed to have said.

Her husband laughed.

Said Oprah, trying to continue the conversation, "You said, 'Joe...?'"

"I said, 'Joe if you are secretary of State you will be away, I'll never see you,'" Mrs. Biden said. "We will see you at a state dinner once in a while. But I said if you are vice president, the entire family, because they worked so hard for the election, they can be involved ... They can come to our home, they can go to events, they can be with us and that is what is important to us."

Oprah turned to the VP-elect, asking "Were you worried about being number 2 because you wanted to be number one?"

"I think Barack was worried about it," the former senator said with a laugh.

This can't be the kind of thing that would please Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY.

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