Cheney vs. Obama: CIA Abuse Probe 'Political'

Former VP says the CIA investigation will hurt national security.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2009— -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney, who has been a fierce critic of the Obama administration, today attacked Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate whether the CIA abused terror suspects during the Bush years.

"I think it's an outrageous political act that will do great damage long-term to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions without having to worry about what the next administration's going to say about it," Cheney said on Fox News.

On ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., retorted that Cheney couldn't be expected to support an investigation of the treatment of terror suspects.

"Dick Cheney has shown through the years, frankly, a disrespect for the Constitution, for sharing of information with Congress, respect for the law, and I'm not surprised that he is upset about this," Kerry said.

Also speaking on "This Week," Liz Cheney, the former vice president's daughter, told Stephanopoulos that the Bush administration looked into the way terror suspects were treated and found no reason to prosecute CIA officials.

"We've investigated all this before," she said. "We are now opening what is clearly a political investigation at a moment when we need the CIA focused on keeping the nation safe."

Dick Cheney said President Obama was caving in to left-wing Democrats and hiding behind the attorney general.

"He's up on vacation at Martha's Vineyard and his attorney general is going back and doing something that the president said some months ago they wouldn't do," the former vice president said.

Actually, the president has said repeatedly that the decision would be up to Attorney General Holder, but Obama did imply that he preferred not to prosecute.

Kerry: Tension Between White House and Justice Department

"If there are clear instances of wrongdoing ... people should be prosecuted just like any ordinary citizen," Obama said a news conference in February. "But, generally speaking, I'm more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards."

Some inside the White House have said they see the controversy over interrogations as an unwelcome distraction. They want Washington and the country focused on the fight over health care reforms, not on waterboarding or other interrogation techniques.

Some Democrats have said they believe the White House hoped that Attorney General Holder would choose not to go ahead with the investigation of the CIA.

"I think there is a little bit of a tension between the White House itself and the lawyers in the Justice Department as they see the law and as what their obligation is," Kerry told Stephanopoulos.