Spencer Ackerman and Marcy Wheeler say what’s needed to be said about the disastrous Dick Cheney interview, but it’s worth emphasizing their point. Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen have access to the man who basically ran our foreign policy from 2001-2009, and they allow all of three words, without follow-up, on the subject of bungling in Afghanistan:

Cheney was asked if he thinks the Bush administration bears any responsibility for the disintegration of Afghanistan because of the attention and resources that were diverted to Iraq. “I basically don’t,” he replied without elaborating.

Now this is two days after the release of a report which definitively shows that the Bush Administration under-resourced the battle of Tora Bora with less than 100 soldiers, despite having Osama bin Laden and most of Al Qaeda trapped in the mountains. The world’s most wanted terrorist was allowed to escape, and that doesn’t merit a question?

If Politico still wanted to “win the day” they might have asked Cheney about what Maurice Hinchey said yesterday, which apparently was beyond the pale for MSNBC’s anchors but actually a fairly reasonable conclusion given the evidence:

Hinchey: Look what happened with regard to our invasion into Afghanistan, how we apparently intentionally let bin Laden get away. How we intentionally did not follow the Taliban and al-Qaeda as they were escaping up into the northeast of Afghanistan, over into the Pakistani border? That was done by the previous administration because they knew very well that if they would capture al-Qaeda, there would be no justification for an invasion in Iraq.

Shuster: You think they deliberately let al Qaeda get away right after the 9/11 attacks? You really believe that?

Hinchey: yes I do. There’s really no question about that because the leader of our military operation in the United States called back our military. Called them back from going after the head of al Qaeda because there was a sense…

Shuster: Congressman, you can accuse them of malfeasance, you can accuse them of dropping the ball, of having an awful plan. I think that would be justified. But to suggest that they deliberately let Osama bin Laden get away so that they could justify the war in Iraq, that will strike a lot of people as crazy.

Hinchey: I don’t think it will strike a lot of people as crazy. I think it will strike a lot of people as being very accurate. And all you have to do is look at the facts of that set of circumstances and you can see that’s exactly what happened. When we went in there, when our military went in there, we could have captured them. We could have captured most of the al Qaeda, but we didn’t. And we didn’t because of the need felt by the previous administration and the need of the previous head of the military, that need to attack Iraq which was completely unjustified…

Surely it would be worth asking the Vice President about these remarks, and if they’re so out of bounds, then allowing Cheney to offer his explanation why the world’s number one terrorist was allowed to slip out of the grasp of US forces eight years ago. Don Rumsfeld’s claim that capturing bin Laden would disrupt the Karzai Administration doesn’t really pass the smell test. Why not see what Cheney had to say about it?

I have questions in to Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei asking them about this, and though I don’t expect much of an answer, I’ll let you know if I get one.

UPDATE: Incidentally, the White House got a little miffed with Politico over their Obama “7 narratives” story from yesterday.

David Dayen

David Dayen

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