There are several questions one should consider as you review his answers:
1 - Do you think Cheney concerns himself with those who have died for his sins?
2 - Does he care about the damage he and his war mongering pals have inflicted on Iraq?
3 - Why is the alternative to staying in Iraq always painted so bleakly and in such a losing proposition borderline hyperbole in terms of possible outcomes?
QUESTION: You are portrayed by your opponents and some in the media as this sinister figure, as this cold-blooded warmonger who doesn't care about the number of body bags going back. I know you read the casualty reports every day. I know you and Mrs. Cheney visit wounded troops privately. And I saw you in Iraq with troops in Iraq. But how do you feel about the cost of this war in blood and treasure four years later? And I guess the question most Americans have is how much is enough.Excuse me? Elected? I don't recall that the W, Rove and Co was elected more than they were selected in Y2K, do you? Perhaps more tragically unfortunate, the whole of the W, Rove and Co. haven't faced or even remotely owned up to the very real probablity that what they thought was "right for the country (ours and theirs)" was not even remotely the right thing to do.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, obviously, any casualty is to be regretted. Nobody likes to be in the position where they have to make those kinds of decisions. Obviously, the President bears the major part of the burden. He's the man with the authority to commit the force.
This is not a new problem for me. I served as Secretary of Defense during the Gulf war. I went to the services at Arlington after it was over with for the 148 killed in action that we couldn't bring home again. We got everybody else home, but we couldn't get them home. And when you see the wounded and the price they paid for their service to the nation and talk with the families of those who have been killed or wounded in action, it's a very emotional experience, and it ought to be. Nobody should ever be in a position of authority to take that for granted.
But I also have strong feelings about the cost if we don't act, about the cost if we allow the United States to be run out of town, so to speak, by al Qaeda. We saw what happened on 9/11. 9/11 had a lasting significance in my mind because it was a watershed event where what was going on in a country thousands of miles away in Afghanistan, where training camps had been established in the late '90s, where al Qaeda had been trained, put together the attack that came to New York and Washington on 9/11 and killed 3,000 of our fellow citizens armed with airline tickets and box cutters.
The real threat we face today is the possibility of an al Qaeda cell in the midst of one of our cities armed with a nuclear weapon, and if they ever were to achieve that, and we know they're trying, but if they were ever to pull that off and detonate a nuclear weapon in one of our major cities, it would rival all the casualties we've suffered in all the wars in over 200 years of American history. So this question of saying, you know, we're suffering casualties, isn't the cost too high, I don't think it is when you lay it over against what it is we need to prevent.
And one of the lessons we learned on 9/11 was that we can't hide behind our oceans and ignore what's going on in the Middle East and be safe and secure; we have to be actively and aggressively involved there. We've got to go after the terrorists. We've got to go after states that sponsor terror. We've got to go after people that can provide them with that kind of deadly capability.
Right now, Iraq is the centerpiece in that global war on terror. Al Qaeda has made it that way. Osama bin Laden has said that. That's where, in fact, we're operating now against al Qaeda on a consistent basis. It's not the only issue that's involved in Iraq by any means, but we need to get it right in Iraq. We need not to fold our tent and go home. If we do that, all we do is validate the al Qaeda strategy.
QUESTION: There's a cost politically, obviously, as -
THE VICE PRESIDENT: There certainly is.
QUESTION: Six in ten Americans say they feel it was a mistake to go to war. About as many say they think it's hopeless on the ground. And then you had a group of moderate Republicans at the White House who said they delivered a frank message that they are really worried about the future of the Republican Party after this - how the war is going. What do you say to those people?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, what I say and I know what the President says is that we were elected to do a job and to do what we think is right for the country. When we ran, nobody had any idea that 9/11 was going to happen just a few months later or that we would be faced with the kinds of problems that we're faced with now, in effect a worldwide conflict that has seen attacks not only in New York and Washington, but in London, in Madrid, in Istanbul and all the way around the world; an al Qaeda organization that's still very active today trying to marshal the resources and acquire the weapons to launch further attacks against the United States. We've been enormously successful at defending the country for the last five and a half years against another one of those attacks. It doesn't mean there won't be more attacks. There may well be.
But the things we've done, sometimes unpopular such as aggressively get involved in the Middle East with military force or set up a terrorist surveillance program at home that allows us to monitor communications between Americans and people overseas at suspect phone numbers or the controversy over the detainee program and how we interrogate prisoners. So I got labeled under that, obviously, because I stood up and defended the importance of that program. It's been absolutely vital.
We didn't get elected to be popular. We didn't get elected to worry just about the fate of the Republican Party. Our mission is to do everything we can to prevail on what is now, we believe, a global conflict, a fundamental test of the character of the American people, whether or not we're going to be able to prevail against one of the most evil opponents we've ever faced. And on our watch, we're going to do absolutely everything we can to see to it that we do succeed and that we do prevail in that conflict, and sometimes that means that we don't do well in the polls or people want to be critical. That's their prerogative. But we sit there every morning and read the intelligence reports in the Oval Office and we know what's happening out there. We know how committed our adversaries are to try to get at us. And we've done what we thought was right for the country.