Vice President Cheney sat down with Politico's John F. Harris, Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen.
.... Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration's support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects. And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the county at risk in ways more severe than most Americans-and, he charged, many members of Obama's own team-understand. 'When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,' Cheney said.
His comments made unmistakable that Cheney-likely more than former President Bush -- is willing and even eager to spar with the new administration and its supporters over the issues he cares most about. 'If it hadn't been for what we did-with respect to the terrorist surveillance program, or enhanced interrogation techniques for high-value detainees, the Patriot Act, and so forth-then we would have been attacked again,' he said.
CHENEY ON 'THE ULTIMATE THREAT TO THE COUNTRY' 'a 9/11-type event where the terrorists are armed with something much more dangerous than an airline ticket and a box cutter – a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind' that is deployed in the middle of an American city. 'That's the one that would involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people, and the one you have to spend a hell of a lot of time guarding against,' he said. 'I think there's a high probability of such an attempt. Whether or not they can pull it off depends whether or not we keep in place policies that have allowed us to defeat all further attempts, since 9/11, to launch mass-casualty attacks against the United States.'
CHENEY ON THE REPUBLICAN FUTURE – 'I'm not nearly as pessimistic about the party as some of my friends. ... We've been through these cycles before. We've had a hell of a run ... over the last nearly 30 years, since Ronald Reagan got elected. So the pendulum will swing back. It's part of a normal cycle that's probably basically healthy for the country, long term. ... In adversity, there is opportunity.' Cheney said recent routs in elections will help 'clean out a lot of the old underbrush.' He added with a droll smile, 'That's probably me, this time around.' ....Without prompting, Cheney listed what he called 'bright and talented' up-and-comers in the party: House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (Va.), Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), Rep. Adam Putnam (Fla.), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Rob Portman, a U.S. Senate candidate in Ohio who served in the House and was President George W. Bush's budget director and U.S. trade representative.