Much Better Questions for Dick Cheney on <i>This Week</i>

Do you agree that President Obama has been more aggressive hunting down al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border regions that you were, Mr. Cheney?
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Although Dick Cheney has yet to appear and be questioned, we know that he will not be asked -- and followed up when he fails to answer -- the key questions regarding his role in national security in the Bush administration.

1. You recently commented that you kept the US safe after you started "taking al-Qaeda seriously." Although the American public was not attuned until after 9/11, al-Qaeda had been well-known by the US government as a major threat. Yet, nine months into office, after receiving repeated and increasingly panicky warnings from the intelligence community, you failed even to hold a meeting of the principals. Why shouldn't you be accountable for even trying to prevent 9/11?

2. Soon after 9/11 you said on Meet the Press that "Saddam Hussein was contained." What happened, on your watch, between September 2001 and September 2002, to allow Saddam Hussein not to be contained?

3. Your office frequently provided information to Judith Miller on Saddam Hussein's WMD that she reported without attribution in the New York Times. You would then go on-air quoting the New York Times, as if it had gathered information independently. Was that not deceitful?

4. From your scribbled notes, you clearly took a major interest in Joe Wilson's Op-Ed piece, and decided to compromise his wife's secret operations for the CIA in order to score political points. How can you defend outing a CIA agent to make a political point? Explain, please, how outing a CIA agent for domestic political purposes was not giving aid-and-comfort to enemies of the United States?

5. In order to attack Iraq, your administration transferred most of the intelligence operations in Afghanistan to Iraq. Now, we are years and years behind going after the hotbed of anti-US terrorism. Was that an intelligent trade-off?

6. What is it, specifically, that President Obama is not doing that he should be doing to keep the US safe from terrorist attacks? What evidence do you have that he is not doing it? What evidence do you have that not doing it is worse than doing it?

7. Did you, Mr. Cheney, have certain detainees waterboarded, and subjected to other techniques, to get information about Iraqi involvement in 9/11? If this was, as it was, after 9/11, did that not violate your own Justice Department's guidelines about using such techniques only to get fresh, actionable information that could foil a pending attack?

8. Do you still contend that Iraq was involved, directly or indirectly, in 9/11?

9. The Iraq political situation appears to be deteriorating. If you were still in office, what specifically would you do now to intervene that the US is not doing?

10. What did the Obama administration do differently with the Christmas bomber than the Bush Administration did with Richard Reid?

11. If you really believe that there are deficiencies in the president's approach to homeland security, would it not be more constructive to call the president, or the vice president, or Director Panetta, and voice those concerns directly to them, rather than making public statements?

12. Do you agree that President Obama has been more aggressive hunting down al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Pakistan border regions that you were?

13. Do you still believe that Donald Rumsfeld was the "greatest Secretary of Defense" in inter-galactic history? In what ways was he better than Robert Gates?

14. When you were Secretary of Defense, you were responsible for the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein. Why did you then, as CEO of Halliburton, have your subsidiary deal with Saddam Hussein and, for that matter, Iran, violating the spirit of US sanctions?

15. If Iran continues to move closer to a nuclear weapon, would you attack? How would you handle the aftermath, given the US military is so stretched? Would you institute a draft? Would you use nuclear weapons against Iran?

16. When US intelligence found bin Laden at Tora Bora, and asked for 600 US Army Rangers to keep him surrounded, your Administration said "no." Why did you let bin Laden escape?

[Hint: Cheney will, of course, be asked if he would run for president. Listen closely to his answer, it will not be Shermanesque. I believe he will run in 2012, promise to serve only one term, claim he is doing it "for the nation's safety," and choose a running mate who a) does not contest him for the nomination; and b) has a bit more understanding of the world than Sarah Palin. If he does run, he will get the Republican nomination, without even trying. Be careful, this is one bad, tricky, dude].

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