'This Week' Transcript: Former Vice President Dick Cheney

Photo: This Week guest Dick Cheney

KARL: Good morning, and welcome to "This Week."

CHENEY: There is no middle ground.

KARL: This morning, a "This Week" exclusive, former Vice President Dick Cheney, the administration's harshest critic...

CHENEY: The president's been largely silent. Half-measures keep you half-exposed. The White House must stop dithering.

KARL: ... with no apologies of his own.

CHENEY: I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program.

KARL: National security, Iran, politics, and...

BIDEN: Iraq, I mean, it's going to be one of the great achievements of this administration.

KARL: ... Dick Cheney takes on the current vice president, only on "This Week." Then, a Washington thaw.

OBAMA: I'm going to spend some time listening.

KARL: But can bipartisanship survive the politics of the moment?

PALIN: We need a commander-in-chief, not a professor of law standing at the lectern.

KARL: That and the rest of the week's politics on our roundtable with George Will, Peter Beinart of the Council on Foreign Relations, the New Yorker's Jane Mayer, and Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal.

And as always, the Sunday funnies.

LETTERMAN: John McCain knew that it was Sarah Palin's birthday, and he did something very nice for her. He bought her a Toyota.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: From the heart of the nation's capital, "This Week" with ABC's congressional correspondent, Jonathan Karl, live from the Newseum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

KARL: Joining me now, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Mr. Vice President, welcome to "This Week."

CHENEY: Good morning, John.

KARL: Now, you have been unflinching in your criticism of this administration's handling of terrorism, counterterrorism. Most recently, talking about the Christmas Day bomber, you said, "It is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend that we are not at war." Now, this morning, we have heard from the current vice president, Joe Biden, directly in response to that. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Your response?

CHENEY: Well, my reference to the notion that the president was trying to avoid treating this as a war was in relation to his initial response when we heard about the Christmas underwear bomber...

KARL: Right.

CHENEY: ... up in Detroit, when he went out and said this was the act of an isolated extremist. No, it wasn't. And we found out over time, obviously -- and he eventually changed his -- his assessment -- but that, in fact, this was an individual who'd been trained by Al Qaida, who'd been part of a larger conspiracy, and it was closer to being an act of war than it was the act of an isolated extremist.

It's the mindset that concerns me, John. I think it's -- it's very important to go back and keep in mind the distinction between handling these events as criminal acts, which was the way we did before 9/11, and then looking at 9/11 and saying, "This is not a criminal act," not when you destroy 16 acres of Manhattan, kill 3,000 Americans, blow a big hole in the Pentagon. That's an act of war.

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