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By CNN's Wolf Blitzer
Los Angeles (CNN) – Former Vice President Dick Cheney refuses to say he made any mistakes at all during his eight years in the Bush administration. He tells me he has no regrets whatsoever.
During our interview, in short, he was vintage Cheney.
He strongly defended his record on every single controversial issue I raised with him: the nearly $1 trillion TARP economic bailout package that the Bush administration pushed through Congress during its final weeks; the decision to invade Iraq even though Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11; the failure to kill Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in Tora Bora shortly after the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan; and the failure to take any steps in the summer of 2001 when he and President George W. Bush were warned that al Qaeda was planning to attack Americans in the United States.
I pointed out to the former vice president that everyone makes mistakes, and there’s nothing wrong with admitting mistakes. We are, after all, only human. No one is perfect.
But he refused to budge. “I'm proud of the policies we put in place. I think they did the job we intended for them to do. And I'm not inclined to make any mea culpas,” Cheney said. Just as in his new best-seller “In My Time,” Cheney defended every controversial decision he made.
He acknowledged that the intelligence suggesting that Saddam Hussein had stockpiles filled with weapons of mass destruction was wrong. Still, he defended the decision to invade Iraq and remove Saddam from power. His basic argument: the world is better off without Saddam. When I asked him if he had any regrets in Iraq, he said, “I think we made exactly the right decisions.”
On the economy, I pointed out that the Bush administration inherited a strong economy from the Clinton administration. There were robust budget surpluses for as far as the eye could see. But during the eight years of the Bush administration, those surpluses became deficits. The national debt doubled – going from $5 trillion to $10 trillion. Moreover, the country went into a horrible economic recession in the final months of the Bush administration, teetering on the brink of a depression. Yet Cheney refused to accept any personal responsibility.
The huge budget deficits were largely the result of no significant spending cuts to pay for two wars, two rounds of tax cuts and a new, unfunded Medicare mandate – prescription drug benefits for seniors.
Check out the interview in "The Situation Room" today from 5 to 7 p.m. ET.
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