Vice President Cheney appears on Larry King Live tonight at 9pm ET. Transcript highlights follow…
Vice President Cheney on the letter from the Department of Defense to Senator Hillary Clinton:
KING: A member of the Department of Defense sent Hillary Clinton a letter saying she should not criticize, because it helps the enemy. Do you agree with that letter?
CHENEY: It didn’t say she should criticism. She was demanding the plans for withdrawal from Iraq. And…
KING: Do you agree with that letter?
CHENEY: No. There is an important principle here, Larry, and that is a debate over what our policy ought to be, perfectly legitimate. What we don’t do is we don’t get into the business of sharing operational plans, we never have, with the Congress.
And to get into that business would be, for example, like saying during the course of Desert Storm, we deployed Marines off the coast of Kuwait. We never planned to put those Marines ashore in Kuwait, but the Iraqis didn’t know that. So they put five or six divisions down there to block that.
We wouldn’t release that kind of information or discuss that kind of information in advance of the operation. If you get into the business of talking about operational planning by the Department of Defense, you don’t share that as a general proposition until you are ready to actually go out and execute those orders, and then you might share it with the Congress at that point.
But to get into the business now where we have got all of these contingencies, we always have got a lot of contingencies, where we are going to start shedding those to respond to political charges, such as those that Senator Clinton made, I think would be unwise.
Vice President Cheney on his support for Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez:
KING: We are back with Vice President Cheney. Moving on to other areas, Alberto Gonzales, do you stand by him?
CHENEY: I do. Al is a good man, a good friend and in a difficult assignment.
KING: Are you troubled by what appears to have happened with the appearance of him not telling the truth?
CHENEY: Well, I don’t want to get into the specifics with respect to his testimony and the questions that were asked. I just — I know Al on a personal and professional basis, and I hold him in high regard.
KING: You are going to stand by him.
CHENEY: Yes, sir.
KING: No doubt about that.
KING: In that regard, The New York Times, which is not — as you said, is not your favorite paper, reports it was you who dispatched Gonzales and Andy Card to then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s hospital in 2004 to push Ashcroft to certify the president’s intelligence-gathering program.
Was it you?
CHENEY: I don’t recall the — first of all, I haven’t seen the story. I don’t recall that I gave instructions that effect.
KING: That would be something you would recall.
CHENEY: I would think so. But certainly I was involved because I was a big advocate of the Terrorist Surveillance Program, and had been responsible in working with General Hayden and George Tenet to get it to the president for approval.
By the time this occurred, it had already been approved about 12 times by the Department of Justice. There was nothing sort of new about…
KING: So you didn’t send them to get…
CHENEY: I don’t recall that I was the one who sent them to the hospital.
KING: How about those who would say, sometimes, even though it may be fine, someone should leave if they are bringing trouble to the — if Gonzales is hurting the administration, he should of his own volition leave?
CHENEY: Well, the president makes that judgment, Larry.
KING: And he could make the judgment too.
CHENEY: But the president is the one who asked to evaluate the individuals who served (ph) for them. He has confidence in Al and that is good enough for me.