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Entries in Iran (97)


The Latest from Iran (31 August): The Debate over the Cabinet

NEW Iran: Law & Politics – Misinterpreting Mortazavi
Video: The Iftar Protests (30 August)
NEW Iran Debate: How Weak (or Strong) is Ahmadinejad?
The Latest from Iran (30 August): Parliament Discusses the Cabinet

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MAJLIS1840 GMT: The National Iranian American Council has picked up on another extract from the meeting between a Parliamentary special committee on detainees and the head of judiciary, Sadegh Larijani (see 1410 GMT):
Ayatollah Larijani alluded to the necessity to immediately free some prisoners and punish the agents of the [offenses] at Kahrizak and the dormitories, and that judgments or indictments relating to the post-election events must be accurately based on judicial regulations.

Reading this in conjunction with the news of the release of high-profile detainees, albeit on bail (1650 GMT), NIAC concludes provocatively, "It remains to be seen if Larijani plans to engage in a full-blown offensive against the actions of the IRGC and the Shahroudi-era Judiciary, or if these are token attempts to restore legitimacy in the Islamic judiciary."

1650 GMT: University Chancellor Released. Mohammad Zabihi, whom we reported (1450 GMT) had been in detention for almost two weeks, has been released on bail, although his son is still in prison.

Hamzeh Ghalebi, head of the youth branch of Mousavi’s campaign, has also been released after more than 70 days ago in detention. He was pressed to "confession" and was at one of the Tehran trials, although there were no charges against him in the indictment.

1510 GMT: Amidst the attention to the Parliamentary debate, Fars News hasn't forgotten the real enemies of the State: it is making not-too-subtle insinutations about an alleged trip by Hashemi Rafsanjani's son, Mehdi Hashemi, to London.

1505 GMT: Surprisingly little on today's Parliamentary deliberations over the Cabinet nominees. So far the focus is on the diffculty faced by Sussan Kesharvarz in becoming Minister of Education.

1450 GMT: I wonder if the Supreme Leader's injunction to academics last night to ensure they prepared students for "soft war" covered this case? The chancellor of Tarbiet Modares University in Qom is reported to have been in detention for almost two weeks.

1430 GMT: The Reform Front Coordination Council has stated its deep sorrow and regret regarding post-election events and emphasised that oppression and crimes committed in the name of “preventing a velvet revolution” or “cutting foreign influence” have damaged the dignity and legitimacy of the Iranian regime.

1410 GMT: An Investigation? Kazzem Jalali, a member of the special Parliament committee studying the conditions of post-election detainees, has said, "The committee had a 1 1/2-hour-long meeting with [head of judiciary] Ayatollah [Sadegh] Larijani and briefed him about the committee's formation process, the studies carried out so far as well as the committee's visits [to detention centers]."

Jalali quoted Larijani as saying, "Those in charge of the post-election incidents should be treated in a decisive, legal and judicial manner. They actually damaged the ruling system's reputation."

On Saturday, Sadegh Larijani named his own panel to investigate allegations of abuse. Members are Iran's Prosecutor General Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejeii, Judiciary First Deputy Chief Ebrahim Raeesi and Judiciary advisor Ali Khalafi.

1350 GMT: A Most Symbolic Case. Tehran Bureau, drawing from Mehr News Agency's quoting of an "informed source", reports that the death of Mohsen Ruholamini, a graduate student detained in Kahrizak and then Evin Prisons, "was caused by physical stress, conditions of imprisonment, repeated blows and harsh physical treatment”.

The case has had huge political signficance, as Ruholamini was the son of Abdolhossein Ruholamini, the campaign manager of Presidential candidate Mohsen Rezaei. News of the death galvanized "conservative" and "principlist" opposition to President Ahmadinejad's handling of the post-election crisis.

1345 GMT: The move of Saeed Mortazavi from Tehran Chief Prosecutor to Iran's Deputy Prosecutor General is an illustration of how complex the political situation, and its connections with legal matters, has become and how easy it is to jump to misleading conclusions. We've considered this in a separate analysis.

1300 GMT: A Convergence on "Soft Power"? Heydar Moslehi, the nominee for Minister of Intelligence, has told Parliament that a new security will include a strategy "to improve the intelligence capacity to confront the enemies' soft war."

The language is striking in its similarity to the Supreme Leader's speech to academics yesterday, so does this --- after the fight last month over the sacking of Minister of Intelligence Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie --- symbolise a reconcilation of approach between Ayatollah Khamenei and the President?

Earlier, reformist MP Jamshid Ansari said the Intelligence Ministry should "not be affiliated to one branch of power, just implementing the president's instructions". He added that Moslehi, a former member of the Revolutionary Guard, "does not have a minimum of experience of intelligence work and therefore his presence in this complicated system would not be fruitful".

1015 GMT: Battle Begins. Parleman News is featuring the challenge by reformist MP Jamshid Ansari to the nomination of Heydar Moslehi as Minister of Intelligence. Meanwhile, "conservative" MP Ahmad Tavakoli has continued his assault against President Ahmadinejad's legitimacy.

0915 GMT: The Clerical Challenge. This front of the post-election battle has been quieter during Ramadan, but there are two reminders that the contest is not over. Grand Ayatollah Montazeri's latest fatwa declared that the legitimacy of a government is validated through people’s free choice; without that choice, it will have neither legitimacy nor acceptance. He stated, presumably as a slap at the Supreme Leader, that there is no instance in history where a Shi’a Imam has used force to gain power or govern.

A statement from Grand Ayatollah Bayat-Zanjani also asserted that people’s choice gives legitimacy to the establishment; if the majority of people wish to protest peacefully, it is the duty of the Minister of the Interior to issue the permit. He also aimed, less subtly, at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, saying that the Assembly of Experts has the final word on the activities of the Supreme Leader.

0830 GMT: Mediawatch. Credit to Michael Slackman of The New York Times, who has raised his game in recent articles. This morning's report covers both the announcement of Sadegh Larijani, the head of judiciary, that a panel would investigate post-election unrest and the debate in Parliament over the President's Cabinet.

Meanwhile, CNN still hasn't noticed the Parliamentary discussions.

0825 GMT: The Green movement website Mowj-e-Sabz, down last night, is back up with front-page stories including a pronouncement by Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri against the legitimacy of the Supreme Leader and Mehdi Karroubi's declaration that the movement will march on Qods Day, 18 September.

0745 GMT: Looks like there will be some leftover scrapping from yesterday before getting to the votes on the individual Ministers. Reformist members of Parliament have raised President Ahmadinejad's appearance with bodyguards, since it is illegal to carry weapons inside the Majlis chamber.

0710 GMT: This, however, was the most ominous comment in the Supreme Leader's address: "All those who have been the victims of the post-election events must know that the establishment has no intention of making concessions. Just as those individuals who openly confront the establishment are legally and justly dealt with, legal and just punishment will also be mete out to the perpetrators of crimes and atrocities."

Four days after saying that Government official who committed post-election abuses would be held to account, has Khamenei moved back toward his President's line of focusing on the punishment of opposition leaders?

0700 GMT: The Supreme Leader gave a lengthy speech to heads of universities and research centres last night.

Most of the address was devoted to thoughts on research and scientific matters, but Ayatollah Khamenei offered headline comments on the post-election situation, "Students are the young officers fighting on this front who with their thoughts, actions and perceptions are present in the scene and who test the scene and act within its framework but university professors are the commanders of this soft confrontation."

Khamenei explained:
The recent issues have placed the country in front of a determining political test. However, the establishment of the Islamic Republic given its high capabilities was able to overcome the situation....Freedom in the Islamic establishment is a true issue defined within an Islamic framework and the Islamic Republic will never consent to or accept the false freedom sought by the West.

0645 GMT: Once more back to the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, where discussion begins on individual Ministers proposed by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The President had a rough time yesterday, as leading MPs criticised his Administration, lack of policies, and mismanagement. He even suffered ridicule, with jokes from the Speaker, Ali Larijani, and the shouts of "Peach! Peach!" over his professed admiration for his former Minister of Health ("a peach you would like to eat").

Little of that mattered, however, as Parliament was unlikely to deny general support to the Government. The fun starts today, with up to 7 of Ahmadinejad's 21 Ministerial choices in possible trouble. Ten nominees will present themselves to the Majlis today.

UPDATED Iran Debate: How Weak (or Strong) is Ahmadinejad?

The Latest from Iran (30 August): Parliament Discusses the Cabinet

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AHMADINEJAD2UPDATED 31 August, 0725 GMT: Enduring America's Chris Emery, formerly known as "Mr Jones", has now made his contribution to what is becoming, I think, one of the most important discussions in the post-election crisis --- see below. Mr Smith has offered a reply.

UPDATED 1145 GMT: Mr Smith has made another intervention in the debate.
Over the weekend, after Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's tough talking at Friday prayers in Tehran and as he was submitting his Cabinet choices to Parliament, we have been debating the President's position and future prospects. EA's Mr Smith and Mr Johnson are joined by Muhammad Sahimi of Tehran Bureau, whose column sparked the discussion, and Fintan Dunne.

SAHIMI: ....Such fabrications [like those in his Friday speech] are of course meant to present Ahmadinejad as a confident leader. But, in reality, he is weaker and more isolated than ever. True, the right wing is in control, but that control has been achieved first and foremost by the support of the high command of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Otherwise, the base of support for Ahmadinejad among the population is extremely narrow, limited to at most 15% of the population.

At the same time,...glaring fissures which have emerged within the conservative and reactionary camp, which poses a growing threat to Iran’s political stability. Even Ayatollah Khamenei and the hardliners around him are well aware of the danger, which explains why they have been gradually retreating over the past few weeks.

First, they acknowledged some of the crimes that have taken place in the detention centers.

Second, they have retreated from linking the reformist leaders with foreign powers, notwithstanding Ahmadinejad’s tired accusations during Friday Prayers.

Third, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi, the former judiciary chief, as a member to the powerful Guardian Council, in preparation for the departure of Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the ultra-conservative secretary-general of the Council, and an ardent supporter of Ahmadinejad. At least compared to Jannati, Shahroudi is a relative moderate.

Fourth, Ahmadinejad’s appointment of Esfandiar Rahim-Mashai as the First Vice President was blocked. Mashai was even barred for two months from holding any governmental position, another tactic to put Ahmadinejad under control.

Fifth, many of the reformists and their supporters, if not their main leaders, have been released from detention.

Sixth, behind-the-scene efforts continue to reach some sort of reconciliation between the reformists and the conservative camp. So far these have failed because the main demand of the reformists, holding a new election, has been rejected.

Seventh, Saeed Mortazavi, the notorious Tehran Prosecutor General and the man implicated in many crimes was sacked.

At the same time, Iran’s uranium enrichment program has stagnated, either by design, or due to technical difficulties, or because of a lack of raw materials (yellow cake) needed for uranium enrichment. Iran has also become more flexible with the International Atomic Energy Agency, allowing more visits to its nuclear sites.....

All are signs of a very weak Ahmadinejad presidency ahead, not to mention his complete lack of legitimacy in the eyes of a large majority of Iranian people, even among those who may have supported him before the election.

Even more damaging for Ahmadnejad is that his chief clerical patron, Ayatollah Khamenei, has himself been greatly weakened. The Ayatollah has been openly challenged and strongly criticized by many important clerics. Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri, the most important Shiite cleric in Iran, openly called him unqualified and his reign illegitimate. Ayatollah Khamenei has allowed himself to be reduced to the leader of one faction in the conservative camp by openly and unabashedly supporting Ahmadinejad. He can no longer pretend that he is above the political fray.

SMITH: [The Tehran Bureau article] lacks sources on just about all the allegations it makes and then essentially parrots the reformist line: Ahmadinejad is weak, is in trouble, is a lame duck already, etc.

While of course all of us wish that this was the case, the reality appears quite different, as we have seen no real thrust to wrestle him out of office. The Supreme Leader has only rebuked him frontally during the [former First Vice President] Mashai affair and he still has the rather remarkable opportunity of talking from official platforms such as Friday Prayers, saying things quite different from what the Supreme Leader says, and still walking out relatively unscathed.

Granted, he has the same amount, or more, difficulties than any executive leader in the world would have for forming a government, but I would be very cautious in calling Ahmadinejad a has-been and that days may be counted down to his demise. Sadly, I doubt this scenario will happen anytime soon.

We shouldn’t forget that the Supreme Leader, conservative critics of AN like the Larijanis, Ahmad Tavakoli (who happens to be the Larijanis’ cousin), and more have essentially agreed to accept the outcome of the Presidential election as announced by the Interior ministry. Hence, they are simply jostling for political kudoes and power within the Government, more than mounting a challenge that is really geared towards removing Ahmadinejad from power.

DUNNE: Muhammad Sahimi was too dismissive in describing of Ahmadinejad as "isolated and delusional", and he erred in reducing the regime to the person of the president.

But he was correct to describe Ahmadinejad as "weak". Professor Sahimi accurately catalogs the ongoing obstruction of the hardliners and the very public political fractures. Furthermore he shows the regime is now tellingly reliant on a narrow base of IRGC appointees to fill government posts.

Ahmadinejad/IRGC's core 'hard' support is as low as 12%, with a 'softer' support extending to up to 20% of the population. Because of this, the disputed president's public pronouncements are reductionist and defensive --aimed at his own supporters and the ill-informed. By contrast, most other voices in Iranian politics are addressing the remaining 80%+ of the population.

Despite their hard-line rhetoric, Ahmadinejad/IRGC are unable to crush the reformers. It is going to be far harder to violently suppress any mass public protests in the weeks ahead. And there is a dire political problem looming for this one-legged regime: it's the economy, stupid!

Even a government of national unity would be hard-pressed to dig the Iranian economy out of the mire against the backdrop of deteriorating global finances. A lame duck Ahmadinejad government comprising an ineffectual clique will certainly fail to turn things around. One shudders to contemplate the unspoken financial state of Iran. Currency problems and capital flight are doubtless significant.

As the weeks pass, the economy will join the stolen election as the twin key political issues for the populace. Imagine an opposition rally protesting the economic straits of the people as well as the stolen election. Imagine the regime trying to suppress such a rally.

That the reformers are not already in prison is a victory in itself. Now, a death by a thousand cuts threatens the Iranian regime. That reality explains the government's determined effort to halt such a slow slide by means of show trials --which have backfired.

The reformists could compromise by accepting the current status quo, on condition of substantive electoral reform overseen by a parliamentary process. But from their perspective it might be best to simply allow this regime to stew in their own economic juice until well roasted.

JOHNSON: I find Mr. Smith's assertion that Professor Sahimi's article "lacks sources on just about all the allegations it makes and then essentially parrots the reformist line" to be both inaccurate (many of Sahimi's statements have been have also been reported here in Enduring America as well as other news-sites), and rather unfair.

Mr. Smith states that there is no thrust to wrestle Ahmadinejad out of office. This statement only makes sense if Mr. Smith considers the reformist movement to be irrelevant. I think that there has been a major effort to wrestle Ahmadinejad out of office; and that effort is still going on. The fact that Ahmadinejad has not been able to imprison and/or neutralize the ringleaders of this effort (Khatami, Mousavi and Karroubi), even though he has explicitly demanded it in public, demonstrates the limitations that exist to his power.

Ahmadinejad's pre-Friday prayers speach seems to have a lot of significance for Mr. Smith. I think that it is rather strange that a strong and powerful and confident president of the Islamic Republic of Iran must choose the mid- to low-profile pre-Friday prayers speech, since many of the faithful participating in Friday prayers either eschew or arrive near the end of the speech, to address the country instead of using IRIB [state television]. Did IRIB not give Ahmadinejad broadcasting time? If so, what kind of a strong President is denied this?

Mr. Smith considers the fact that Ahmadnejad is "saying things quite different from what the Supreme Leader says, and still walking out relatively unscathed" as evidence for Ahmadinejad's power. I think this is more a statement of Khamenei's weakness than Ahmadinejad's strength. I think the replacement of [Tehran chief prosecutor] Mortazavi is the real litmus test. If Mortazavi's successor puts an end to the trials and somehow addresses the issues of torture and the secret burials, a tangible limitation of the President's power has been put in place. This would be the first step taken to abort Ahmadinejad's "velvet coup".

Mr. Smith also takes Ahmadinejad's parliamentary troubles lightly. I agree that conservative parliamentarians are "simply jostling for political kudoes and power within the Government". However I think that the rumblings and confrontations demonstrated by a sizable fraction of conservative MPs with regards to the President demonstrate that these MPs are convinced that: firstly, Ahmadinejad has no intention of giving them any kudoes and power; secondly, Ahmadinejad's plan may have also intended to weaken their power as well as that of the reformists; and thirdly, they may think that all the recent scandals (torture, unmarked graves, etc.) has turned Ahmadinejad into a political hot potato that must be dropped as soon as possibly.

The outcome of the presidential election was accepted by the conservatives in June. Not all of them are necessarily bound to continue to accept that now, especially if rejecting Ahmadinejad is equivalent to their political survival. The upcoming vow of confidence will be a demonstration of how the conservatives feel towards Ahmadinejad's policies.

SMITH: My assertions regarding Ahmadinejad were not so much related to his political "power", rather to his chances of political survival.

I don't deny that he is weak, has severe issues in forming his government, and is prey to all sorts of critics, both conservative and reformist. My considerations are focused, however, on whether Ahmadinejad will survive the storm in the short term and be able to stay in his place. I still believe he will, because the conservatives have too much to lose in terms of legitimacy after substantially endorsing the election results in June. No one, including the Larijanis, has contested the latter yet, and this is quite important in my view.

This is not to deny that friction between Ahmadinejad and Khamenei exists, but again not at boiling point level. Lastly, Ahmadinejad's appearing at Friday prayers was completely to be expected, as it is Government Week in Iran right now, and nearly all Presidents have appeared on the podium on this occasion.

EMERY: I wouldn't necessarily connect all the concessions detailed by Sahimi and Mr Johnson to Ahmadinejad's apparent isolation or weakness. Certainly the "stagnating" nuclear issue is not really evidence of a "very weak Ahmadinejad presidency ahea". I'm also not convinced that Ahmadinejad's inability to have Mousavi, Karroubi, Khatami, and Rafsanjani locked up is, as Mr. Johnson suggests, a useful demonstration of the limitations that exist to his power. The absence of such dictatorial powers are inherent in the office of the presidency.

My position is somewhere in between those expressed by Mr Smith and Mr Johnson. I agree with Mr Smith that Ahmadinejad will probably survive attempts to remove him. However, my prediction is for a totally chaotic second term in which Ahmadinejad is unable to achieve anything substantial as the Parliament and judiciary acts increasingly independently from the government (perhaps already seen in the "moving" of Mortazavi and appointment of Ejeie to posts in the judiciary). Increasingly, the question of the Supreme Leader's succession will come to dominate back stage political manoeuvrings.

As such, the real question is not so much whether Ahmadinejad has lost his public legitimacy or whether the Larijanis have or have not questioned the election result. The immediate apparent legacy of the crisis is that the coordination required for an effective legislative program will be almost impossible to achieve. The still-unknown legacy is the extent of the compromises, principally in terms of Iran's justice system, that Khamenei offers to avoid further mass protests. I don't see Ahmadinejad as particularly significant in how that pans out, although the result of the current trials does seem a reasonable litmus test.

The wider point is that Ahmadinejad doesn't actually appear to have much in the way of policies at the moment. Nor does he appear to grasp the enormity of the task in front of him. Ahmadinejad's second term may hang on this failure as much as anything else. Of course, he will now find it much harder to pass the legislation and reforms he thinks will do something about it and his failures will undoubtedly be capitalised on by his opponents. But a lot does depend on the merit of his policies.

Frustration will be hard for Ahmadinejad to take because the economy is where he has exercised more control than any other President. He also believes he has a strong mandate for his economic "vision", for which the SL has publicly stated his broad agreement (again, more than for any previous President). The real test will thus be when Ahmadinejad tries to pass something fiscal.

If Ahmadinejad does appear increasingly irrelevant or lame, then another important question is how he will react. When he appeared almost invisible in the first few weeks of the crisis, he tried to claw back his bureaucratic authority by some high profile sackings and appointments. I think everyone (including the Supreme Leader) was surprised at how brazen he was in trying to re-assert his visibility. It seems he is now emboldened enough to publicly differ with the Supreme Leader on the trials as well.

I don't see the Supreme Leader as likely to publicly remove his patronage from Ahmadinejad, but it could be possible that he will move closer towards an informal triumvirate with the Larijanis. But Ahmadinejad still has some leverage. Any US-Iranian engagement will require his cooperation, in that he will have the ability to de-rail it or at least cause severe problems. The SL will also recognise that there may be a political price to pay, in terms of the overall authority of the regime, for damaging the office of the Presidency. Ahmadinejad's ouster could even bring the IRGC [Revolutionary Guard] onto the streets.

SMITH: I largely concur with Chris Emery on the unstable nature of AN's second term, although I would, once again, exercise caution as to the real extent of Parliamentary opposition to Ahmadinejad. This will become much clearer in the next few days, as the various ministers receive their votes of confidence.

I too can see many avenues of deadlock for Ahmadinejad in his second term, particularly if the reformists attempt to embark on a long-term route that will target the 2012 Parliamentary elections, as they will have to attack the current composition of the Guardian Council and hence try to chip away at the current conservative quasi-monopoly over state power.

I would also be wary to think that Ahmadinejad does not " grasp the enormity of the task in front of him". I haven't seen statements to this effect by him. His second speech in Parliament yesterday, which I followed via live TV, was actually quite well-constructed. He defended, inter alia, his cabinet changes by saying that reshuffles are necessary, or else cabinets could last 50 years and elections would be made worthless. And his points on women and the experience of other members of his cabinet are also quite interesting. My own experience in dealing with him over the years (I have also had the dubious privilege of shaking his hand and asking him a couple of questions during press conferences) leads me to believe that he is more wily and clever than his external appearance makes him out to be.

As to the judiciary, I think we really have to wait till the end of Sadegh Larijani's appointments to see what the state of play is. Mortazavi was shooed out and in the door again in the last few days and the rest of the appointees such as Ejeie are hardliners in their own right, opposed to Ahmadinejad but not really wishing to make concessions to the reformists.

I still remain convinced that the Supreme Leader will pull a stunt by the end of Ramadan and pardon the reformist bigwigs, after the latter have received long prison sentences. Should he be clever, he would arrange for all of them to be carted off to his palace and be offered the pardon there in front of TV cameras. It would discredit them and allow Khamenei to show off his magnanimity, for free.

The Latest from Iran (30 August): Parliament Discusses the Cabinet

NEW Video: The Iftar Protests (30 August)
Iran Debate: How Weak (or Strong) is Ahmadinejad?
Today’s Gold Medal Iran “Expert”: Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post
The Latest from Iran (29 August): The Stakes Are Raised

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AHMADINEJAD52100 GMT: The Mowj-e-Sabz website, which has been a vital source of information (if one reporting for the cause of the Green movement) during this conflict, is down. We're watching to see if it has been hacked out of existence.

1955 GMT: That #CNNFail Thing (see 1445 GMT). CNN staffer Samira Simone tweets from Atlanta, "More trouble for Ahmadinejad's Cabinet picks", linking to a Saturday story in the Los Angeles Times on the disputed Ph.D. of the President's proposed Minister of Higher Education.

Meanwhile, no one on CNN's website seems to have noticed that a debate over "Ahmadinejad's Cabinet picks" took place in the Iranian Parliament today. There is still no advance on their story about the President's speech at Friday prayers.

1915 GMT: Agence France Presse draws on the opinions of two high-profile "conservative" MPs to draw out the challenge to President Ahmadinejad's Cabinet nominees:
"Sixteen nominees have no experience required for the ministries they have been nominated for," said powerful MP Ahmad Tavakoli. "The cabinet lacks harmony in its view when it comes to handling crucial issues such as economic development. The views of candidates nominated to head the economy, oil and commerce ministries contradict that of the agriculture ministry nominee."

Another top conservative, Mohammad Reza Bahonar, said he will "definitely not vote for a few nominees: "Some nominees of four or five ministries have an educational background which is contradictory to their portfolios."

1830 GMT: The news that Saeed Mortazavi, the former Tehran Chief Prosecutor, has been named as Iran's Deputy Prosecutor General, serving under the former Minister of Intelligence, Gholam-Hossein Mohseni-Ejeie, has caused consternation. Mohammad Sahimi of Tehran Bureau assesses:

The move also provides some clues into [head of Iran judiciary Sadegh] Larijani’s thinking and his views about his tenure at the judiciary. Larijani does not appear to be interested in reforming the system or leaving a positive legacy. Ejeie himself is a hardliner, and both he and Mortazavi are strongly supported by Ayatollah Khamenei. Their appointments signal that the harsh tactics in dealing with the reformist leaders and the people supporting them will continue.

I'm still in "wait and see" mode while an EA correspondent writes, "I think [this] really highlights how things are not quite as they appear in Iran. We were all thinking that Sadegh Larijani is weeding the hard core Ahmadinejad henchment away from top posts, when suddently Mortazavi gets actually promoted. I am not an expert of the Iranian judiciary system, but would venture to say that it is effectively a promotion, although it needs to be seen how he will cope with his boss, Mohseni Ejeie."

1735 GMT: Protestors have gathered in front of the Amir Almomenin Mosque in Tehran. Mehdi Karroubi, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mohammad Khatami had planned to join families of detainees for an Iftar (breaking of the Ramadan fast) meal, but the gathering was prohibited by authorities. We've posted video in a separate entry.

1640 GMT: Radio Farda has published a transcript (in Farsi) of President Ahmadinejad's speech in Parliament today.

1635 GMT: The Kargozaran Party, which associated with Hashemi Rafsanjani, has issued a statement of support for Mehdi Karroubi.

1520 GMT: Some urgent re-interpretation might be in order. According to BBC Persian, Saeed Mortazavi was not "fired" as Tehran's chief prosecutor. Instead, he's been moved at the judiciary to Deputy Prosecutor General.

1445 GMT: Credit to Associated Press, who have written a summary of the debate in Parliament, highlighting criticism of Ahmadinejad over the Iranian economy and noting specific hostility to his nominee as Minister of Energy, Massed Mirkazemi. (Unfortunately, they missed the humour of the "Peach" episode --- see 1230 GMT.) Credit also to MSNBC for picking up the story.

CNN continues its recent record of hopelessness: its last Iran story is from Friday, "Ahmadinejad urges stiff punishment for election dissenters".

1230 GMT: The Parliamentary debate has ended for the day. Parleman News has posted a running summary.

The overall headline appears to be that criticism of the Ahmadinejad Government, with principlists MPs pointing to a weak administration and reformists objecting to the lack of a substantial Government programme, will not stop general Parliamentary affirmation. Votes on individual ministers, which start on Monday, will be much trickier for the President.

So Ahmadinejad has avoided an immediate setback, but this does not mean he escaped ridicule. The moment that may capture the political imagination came when some Parliamentarians started shouting, "Peach! Peach!" That is an allusion to Ahmadinejad's television appearance last week, when he compared his former Minister of Health to "a peach I would like to eat".

1145 GMT: Parallel to our live blog coverage of the Parliamentary discussion, we've posted a lively debate --- drawing on the expertise of our Mr  Smith and Mr Johnson as well as blogs from Muhammad Sahimi of Tehran Bureau and Fintan Dunne --- on the political position of President Ahmadinejad.

1135 GMT: Parleman News have now posted a summary, via Mehr News, of the first session of Parliament on the Ahmadinejad Cabinet. MPs of the majority principlist bloc have been fierce in their criticism of the President. I still expect Parliamentary approval of the Government, but the estimate of up to 7 ministers being rejected is still prominent.

1125 GMT: Meanwhile Mehdi Karoubi, in a meeting with members of the Etemade Melli party, emphasised that suspending their newspaper or filtering their website will not make them give up and that they will continue their efforts with strong determination. He added that on Quds Day (the last Friday of Ramadan, 18 September) the authorities will witness people’s power once again and will know which side people are supporting.

1100 GMT: There is a Twitter report that tonight's Iftar (breaking of Ramadan fast), in which with Karroubi, Mousavi, Khatami, and families of detainees dined with the Reform Front Coordination Council, has been cancelled by authorities from the Ministry of Intelligence.

(We have now confirmed this via Saham News and the website of Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli party.)

1000 GMT: Parleman News is updating on the Parlimentary speeches, which initially will be over the acceptance of the Cabinet as a whole rather on individual Ministers. Our reading is that while some high-profile critics of President Ahmadinejad, such as Vice Speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar, are maintaining their denunciation of a "weak" Administration, they will encourage the Majlis to offer its support by voting for the Government.

0835 GMT: An Inauspicious Start? While Press TV summarises Ahmadinejad's speech this morning to Parliament, Parleman News thinks the President may have mis-stepped even before he took the podium. Ahmadinejad showed up with bodyguards, an unprecedented measure that brought protests from reformist MPs.

0830 GMT: We've just read an opinion piece on Iran that was so jaw-droppingly, well, bad that we had to give the author, Jim Hoagland of The Washington Post, his own special space.

0710 GMT: The Secret Burials in Behesht-e-Zahra Cemetery. Hamid-Reza Katouzian, a member of the special Parliamentary committee investigating claims of post-election misconduct, has said that there are unidentified people buried in the cemetery but it is unclear whether there are the 40 protestors whom the opposition claim were interred on orders from security forces.

0700 GMT: Fintan Dunne has joined our debate from yesterday over the claim, launched in the Tehran Bureau, that President Ahmadinejad is "isolated, weak, and delusional".
Muhammad Sahimi was too dismissive in describing of "isolated and delusional", and erred in reducing the regime to the person of the President. But he was correct to describe Ahmadinejad as "weak"....

The regime is now tellingly reliant on a narrow base of IRGC [Revolutionary Guard] appointees to fill government posts. Ahmadinejad/IRGC's core 'hard' support is as low as 10% with a 'softer' support extending to up to 18% of the population. The disputed president's public pronouncements are reductionist and defensive --aimed at his own supporters and the ill-informed. By contrast, most other voices in Iranian politics are addressing the remaining 80%+ of the population.

Despite their hard-line rhetoric, Ahmadinejad/IRGC are unable to crush the reformers. It is going to be far harder to violently suppress any mass public protests in the weeks ahead. And there is a dire political problem looming for this one-legged regime: it's the economy, stupid!...As the weeks pass, the economy will join the stolen election as the twin key political issues for the populace.

0650 GMT: On the opposition side, there has been a lot of chatter about a report that Mohammad Khatami, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and Mehdi Karroubi, joining families of political detainees, will attend this evening's Iftar ceremony, when the daily Ramadan fast is broken, with the Reform Front Coordination Council.

0635 GMT: Attention this morning turns to the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, where President Ahmadinejad's 21 Ministerial nominations come up for votes of confidence. The debates and votes are more than referenda on individual Ministers; they are also a key sign of how much support the President retains, especially amongst the majority principlist bloc.

While there have been reports this week that up to 7 of the nominations are in trouble, these are based more on the comments of a couple of highly-placed MPs rather than a survey of Parliamentary opinion. The safest assessment that can be made is that Ahmadinejad's 3 women nominees are unlikely to be approved; beyond that, several other Ministers will rise or fall depending on behind-the-scene manoeuvres and their own presentations to the Parliament.

Latest Iran Video: The Iftar Protests (30 August)

The Latest from Iran (30 August): Parliament Discusses the Cabinet

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Protests in Front of Amir Almomenin Mosque, Tehran

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Defending Torture, Bombing Iran (Video): Dick Cheney on Fox News Sunday (30 August)

Torture and Lies: Confronting Cheney — 7 More Points to Note
Torture and Lies: Confronting Cheney

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Apologies for not mincing words, but the US in the midst of a sustained public-relations effort to whitewash the torture stain of the Bush Administration by 1) arguing that it wasn't torture and 2) if it was, it helped win the War on Terror. After the release this week of the damning 2004 CIA internal report on the Administration's authorisation of torture and its ineffectiveness, Dick Cheney has been at the front of the campaign to save his legacy, if not America's standing in the world. Fox News set him with the softball questions this morning.

(An important side note for Iran-watchers. Check out the passage late in the transcript where Cheney comes out as a strong supporter of an airstrike on Iran in 2007-8):


CHRIS WALLACE, HOST: Mr. Vice President, welcome back to "FOX News Sunday."


WALLACE: This is your first interview since Attorney General Holder named a prosecutor to investigate possible CIA abuses of terror detainees.

What do you think of that decision?

CHENEY: I think it's a terrible decision. President Obama made the announcement some weeks ago that this would not happen, that his administration would not go back and look at or try to prosecute CIA personnel. And the effort now is based upon the inspector general's report that was sent to the Justice Department five years ago, was completely reviewed by the Justice Department in years past.

They made decisions about whether or not there was any prosecutable offense there. They found one. It did not involve CIA personnel, it involved contract personnel. That individual was sentenced and is doing time. The matter's been dealt with the way you would expect it to be dealt with by professionals.

Now we've got a political appointee coming back, and supposedly without the approval of the president, going to do a complete review, or another complete investigation, possible prosecution of CIA personnel. We could talk the whole program about the negative consequences of that, about the terrible precedent it sets, to have agents involved, CIA personnel involved, in a difficult program that's approved by the Justice Department, approved by the National Security Council, and the Bush administration, and then when a new administration comes in, it becomes political.

They may find themselves dragged up before a grand jury, have to hire attorneys on their own because the Justice Department won't provide them with counsel.

It's a terrible, terrible precedent.

WALLACE: There are a lot of aspects that you just raised. Let me review some of them.
Why are you so concerned about the idea of one administration reviewing, investigating the actions of another one?

CHENEY: Well, you think, for example, in the intelligence arena. We ask those people to do some very difficult things. Sometimes, that put their own lives at risk. They do so at the direction of the president, and they do so with the -- in this case, we had specific legal authority from the Justice Department. And if they are now going to be subject to being investigated and prosecuted by the next administration, nobody's going to sign up for those kinds of missions.

It's a very, very devastating, I think, effect that it has on morale inside the intelligence community. If they assume that they're going to have to be dealing with the political consequences -- and it's clearly a political move. I mean, there's no other rationale for why they're doing this -- then they'll be very reluctant in the future to do that.

WALLACE: Do you think this was a political move not a law enforcement move?

CHENEY: Absolutely. I think the fact is, the Justice Department has already reviewed the inspector general's report five years ago. And now they're dragging it back up again, and Holder is going to go back and review it again, supposedly, to try to find some evidence of wrongdoing by CIA personnel.

In other words, you know, a review is never going to be final anymore now. We can have somebody, some future administration, come along 10 years from now, 15 years from now, and go back and rehash all of these decisions by an earlier administration.

WALLACE: Let me follow up on that. The attorney general says this is a preliminary review, not a criminal investigation. It is just about CIA officers who went beyond their legal authorization. Why don't you think it's going to stop there?

CHENEY: I don't believe it. We had the president of the United States, President Obama, tell us a few months ago there wouldn't be any investigation like this, that there would not be any look back at CIA personnel who were carrying out the policies of the prior administration. Now they get a little heat from the left wing of the Democratic Party, and they're reversing course on that.

The president is the chief law enforcement officer in the administration. He's now saying, well, this isn't anything that he's got anything to do with. He's up on vacation on Martha's Vineyard and his attorney general is going back and doing something that the president said some months ago he wouldn't do.

WALLACE: But when you say it's not going to stop there, you don't believe it's going to stop there, do you think this will become an investigation into the Bush lawyers who authorized the activity into the top policymakers who were involved in the decision to happen, an enhanced interrogation program?

CHENEY: Well, I have no idea whether it will or not, but it shouldn't.

The fact of the matter is the lawyers in the Justice Department who gave us those opinions had every right to give us the opinions they did. Now you get a new administration and they say, well, we didn't like those opinions, we're going to go investigate those lawyers and perhaps have them disbarred. I just think it's an outrageous precedent to set, to have this kind of, I think, intensely partisan, politicized look back at the prior administration.

I guess the other thing that offends the hell out of me, frankly, Chris, is we had a track record now of eight years of defending the nation against any further mass casualty attacks from Al Qaeda. The approach of the Obama administration should be to come to those people who were involved in that policy and say, how did you do it? What were the keys to keeping this country safe over that period of time?

Instead, they're out there now threatening to disbar the lawyers who gave us the legal opinions, threatening contrary to what the president originally said. They're going to go out and investigate the CIA personnel who carried out those investigations. I just 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 is going to say.

WALLACE: If the prosecutor asks to speak to you, will you speak to him?

CHENEY: It will depend on the circumstances and what I think their activities are really involved in. I've been very outspoken in my views on this matter. I've been very forthright publicly in talking about my involvement in these policies.

I'm very proud of what we did in terms of defending the nation for the last eight years successfully. And, you know, it won't take a prosecutor to find out what I think. I've already expressed those views rather forthrightly.

WALLACE: Let me ask you -- you say you're proud of what we did. The inspector general's report which was just released from 2004 details some specific interrogations -- mock executions, one of the detainees threatened with a handgun and with an electric drill, waterboarding Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times.

First of all, did you know that was going on?

CHENEY: I knew about the waterboarding. Not specifically in any one particular case, but as a general policy that we had approved.

The fact of the matter is, the Justice Department reviewed all of those allegations several years ago. They looked at this question of whether or not somebody had an electric drill in an interrogation session. It was never used on the individual, or that they had brought in a weapon, never used on the individual. The judgment was made then that there wasn't anything there that was improper or illegal with respect to conduct in question...


WALLACE: Do you think what they did, now that you've heard about it, do you think what they did was wrong?

CHENEY: Chris, my sort of overwhelming view is that the enhanced interrogation techniques were absolutely essential in saving thousands of American lives and preventing further attacks against the United States, and giving us the intelligence we needed to go find Al Qaeda, to find their camps, to find out how they were being financed. Those interrogations were involved in the arrest of nearly all the Al Qaeda members that we were able to bring to justice. I think they were directly responsible for the fact that for eight years, we had no further mass casualty attacks against the United States.

It was good policy. It was properly carried out. It worked very, very well.

WALLACE: So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?


WALLACE: One specific question about Holder, the Obama administration -- you put out the statement saying that you were upset that President Obama allowed the attorney general to bring these cases. A top Obama official says, hey, maybe in the Bush White House they told the attorney general what to do, but Eric Holder makes independent decisions.

CHENEY: Well, I think if you look at the Constitution, the president of the United States is the chief law enforcement officer in the land. The attorney general's a statutory officer. He's a member of the cabinet.

The president's the one who bears this responsibility. And for him to say, gee, I didn't have anything to do with it, especially after he sat in the Oval Office and said this wouldn't happen, then Holder decides he's going to do it. So now he's backed off and is claiming he's not responsible.

I just, I think he's trying to duck the responsibility for what's going on here. And I think it's wrong.
WALLACE: President Obama has also decided to move interrogations from the CIA to the FBI that's under the supervision of the National Security Council, and the FBI will have to act within the boundaries of the Army Field Manual.

What do you think that does for the nation's security? And will we now have the tools if we catch another high-value target?

CHENEY: I think the move to set up this -- what is it called, the HIG Group?


CHENEY: It's not even clear who's responsible. The Justice Department is, then they claim they aren't. The FBI is responsible and they claim they aren't. It's some kind of interagency process by which they're going to be responsible for interrogating high-value detainees.

If we had tried to do that back in the aftermath of 9/11, when we captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of 9/11, we'd have gotten no place. I think it moves very much in the direction of going back to the old way of looking at these terrorist attacks -- that these are law enforcement problems, that this isn't a strategic threat to the United States.

I think it's a direct slap at the CIA. I don't think it will work.

I think that if they were faced with the kind of situation we were faced with in the aftermath of 9/11, suddenly capturing people that may have knowledge about imminent attacks, and they're going to have to have meetings and decide who gets to ask what question and who's going to Mirandize the witness, I think it's silly. It makes no sense. It doesn't appear to be a serious move in terms of being able to deal with the nation's security.

WALLACE: Well, on another issue, the CIA has stopped a program to kill or capture top al Qaeda leaders, top al Qaeda terrorists. And CIA Director Panetta told lawmakers that you told the CIA not to inform Congress.

Is that true?

CHENEY: As I recall -- and frankly, this is many years ago -- but my recollection of it is, in the reporting I've seen, is that the direction was for them not to tell Congress until certain lines were passed, until the program became operational, and that it was handled appropriately.

And other directors of the CIA, including people like Mike Hayden, who was Leon Panetta's immediate predecessor, has talked about it and said that it's all you know a very shaky proposition. That it was well handled, that he was not directed not to deal with the Congress on this issue, that it's just not true.

WALLACE: The CIA released two other documents this week -- "Khalid Sheikh Mohammed: Preeminent Source on Al Qaeda"...

CHENEY: Right.

WALLACE: "Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al Qaeda."

While they say that the overall program got absolutely crucial information, they do not conclude whether the enhanced interrogation programs worked. They just are kind of agnostic on the issue. And then there's what President Obama calls the core issue -


PRESIDENT OBAMA: Could we have gotten that same information without resorting to these techniques? And it doesn't answer the broader question, are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?


CHENEY: Well, these two reports are versions of the ones I asked for previously. There's actually one, "Detainee Reporting Pivotal for the War Against Al Qaeda," there's another version of this that's more detailed that's not been released.

But the interesting thing about these is it shows that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaydah provided the overwhelming majority of reports on Al Qaeda. That they were, as it says, pivotal in the war against Al Qaeda. That both of them were uncooperative at first, that the application of enhanced interrogation techniques, specifically waterboarding, especially in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, is what really persuaded him. He needed to cooperate.

I think the evidence is overwhelming that the EITs were crucial in getting them to cooperate, and that the information they provided did in fact save thousands of lives and let us defeat all further attacks against the United States.

The thing I keep coming back to time and time again, Chris, is the fact that we've gone for eight years without another attack. Now, how do you explain that?

The critics don't have any solution for that. They can criticize our policies, our way of doing business, but the results speak for themselves. And, as well as the efforts that we went to with the Justice Department and so forth to make certain what we were doing was legal, was consistent with our international treaty obligations.

WALLACE: At one point the Vice President showed us the view of majestic mountains from his back yard. I asked about the Democrats running battle with the CIA including Nancy Pelosi's charge the agency once lied to her.

Republicans have made the charge before, do you think Democrats are soft on National Security?

CHENEY: I do, I've always had the view that in recent years anyway that they didn't have as strong of advocates on National Defense or National Security as they used to have, and I worry about that, I think that things have gotten so partisan that the sort of the pro defense hawkish wing of the Democratic party has faded and isn't as strong as it once was.

WALLACE: Now that he has been in office for seven months, what do you think of Barack Obama?

CHENEY: Well, I was not a fan of his when he got elected, and my views have not changed any. I have serious doubts about his policies, serious doubts especially about the extent to which he understands and is prepared to do what needs to be done to defend the nation.

WALLACE: Now, he has stepped up the use of the Predator drones against Al Qaeda. He has continued rendition. Aren't there some things you support that he has done?

CHENEY: Sure, some of those things have been -- the use of the Predator drone, something we started very aggressively in the Bush Administration, marrying up the intelligence platform with weapons is something we started in August of 2001. It has been enormously successful. And they were successful the other day in killing Batula Masood [Beitullah Mehsud], which I think all of those are pluses.

But my concern is that the damage that will be done by the President of the United States going back on his word, his promise about investigations of CIA personnel who have carried those policies, is seriously going to undermine the moral, if you will, of our folks out at the agency. Just today, for example, the courts in Pakistan have ruled that A. Q. Khan, the father of the Pakistan nuclear weapon man who provided assistance to the Iranians, the North Koreans, the Libyans, has now been released from custody.

It is very, very important we find out and know long term what he is up to. He is, so far, the worst proliferator of nuclear technology in recent history. Now we have got agents and people out at the agency who ought to be on that case and worried about it, but they are going to have to spend time hiring lawyers at their own expense in order to defend themselves against the possibility of charges.

WALLACE: Actually, the CIA has now said that they are going to pay for the lawyers.

CHENEY: Well, that will be a new proposition. Always before, when we have had these criminal investigations, the fact is that the employees themselves had to pay for it.

WALLACE: What do you think of the debate over healthcare reform and these raucous town halls?

CHENEY: I think it is basically healthy.

WALLACE: And what do you think of the healthcare reform issue?

CHENEY: I don't -- well, it is an important issue, but I think the proposals the Administration has made are -- do not deserve to be passed. I think the fact that there is a lot of unrest out there in the country that gets expressed in these town hall meetings with folks coming and speaking out very loudly about their concerns indicates that there are major, major problems of what the administration is proposing.

WALLACE: There was a story in The Washington Post a couple of weeks ago that in the process of writing your memoir, you have told colleagues about your frustration with President Bush, especially in his, your second term. Is that true?


WALLACE: That story was wrong.

CHENEY: Right.

WALLACE: The report says that you disagreed with the President's decision to halt water boarding, you agreed with his decision to close the secret prisons, you disagreed with his decision to reach out to Iran and North Korea. Is that true?

CHENEY: Well, we had policy differences, no question about that, but to say that I was disappointed with the President is not the way it ought to be phrased. The fact of the matter is, he encouraged me to give him my view on a whole range of issues. I did.

Sometimes he agreed. Sometimes he did not. That was true from the very beginning of the Administration.

WALLACE: Did you feel that he went soft in the second term?

CHENEY: I wouldn't say that. I think you are going to have wait and read my book, Chris, for the definitive view.

WALLACE: It sounds like you are going to say something close to that?

CHENEY: I am not going to speculate on it. I am going to write a book that lays out my view of what we did. It will also cover a lot of years before I ever went to work for George Bush.

WALLACE: Will you open up in the book about areas where you disagreed --


WALLACE: -- with the president?


WALLACE: There is a question I have wanted to ask you for some period of time. Why didn't your Administration take out the Iranian nuclear program, given what a threat I know you believe it was, given the fact that you knew that Barack Obama favored, not only diplomatic engagement, but actually sitting down with the Iranians, why would you leave it to him to make this decision?

CHENEY: It was not my decision to make.

WALLACE: Would you have favored military action?

CHENEY: I was probably a bigger advocate of military action than any of my colleagues.

WALLACE: Do you think that it was a mistake, while you were in power, while your administration was in power, not to go after the nuclear infrastructure of Iran?

CHENEY: I can't say that yet. We do not know how it is ultimately going to come out.

WALLACE: But you don't get the choice to make it 20/20 hindsight.

CHENEY: Well, I --

WALLACE: In 2007, 2008, was it a mistake not to take out their program?

CHENEY: I think it was very important that the military option be on the table. I thought that negotiations could not possibly succeed unless the Iranians really believed we were prepared to use military force. And to date, of course, they are still proceeding with their nuclear program and the matter has not yet been resolved.

We can speculate about what might have happened if we had followed a different course of action. As I say I was an advocate of a more robust policy than any of my colleagues, but I didn't make the decision.

WALLACE: Including the president?

CHENEY: The president made the decision and, obviously, we pursued the diplomatic avenues.

WALLACE: Do you think it was a mistake to let the opportunity when you guys were in power, go, knowing that here was Barack Obama and he was going to take a much different --

CHENEY: I am going to -- if I address that, I will address it in my book, Chris.

WALLACE: It is going to be a hell of a book.

CHENEY: It is going to be a great book.

WALLACE: Was it a mistake for Bill Clinton, with the blessing of the Administration, to go to North Korea to bring back those two reporters?

CHENEY: Well, obviously, you are concerned for the reporters and their circumstances, but I think if we look at it from a policy standpoint, it is a big reward for bad behavior on the part of the North Korean leadership. They are testing nuclear weapons.

They have been major proliferators of nuclear weapons technology. They built a reactor in the Syrian Desert very much like their own reactor for producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.They probably are the worst proliferators of nuclear technology any place in the world today.

And there ought to be a price for that. Instead, I think when the former President of the United States goes, meets with the leader and so forth, that we are rewarding their bad behavior. And I think it is a mistake.

WALLACE: You would not have done it.


WALLACE: How concerned are you about the increase in violence in Iraq since we pulled out of the major population areas and also what do you make of the fact that the top Shiite parties have formed an alliance tilting towards Iran and leaving out Prime Minister Maliki?

CHENEY: Well, I am concerned about Iraq, obviously. I have been a strong supporter of our policies there from the very beginning. I think we made major, major efforts to take down Saddam Hussein's regime, establish a viable democracy in the heart of the Middle East. I think especially going through the surge strategy in '07 and '08, we achieved very significant results.

It is important that we not let that slip away. And we need to be concerned, I think, in these days now in the beginning of the new Administration, I would like to see them focus just as much on victory as they are focused on getting out. And I hope that they don't rush to the exit so fast, that we end up in a situation where all of those gains that were so hard won are lost.

WALLACE: Given the increase in violence, given some of these new issues, in terms of the political lay of the land, given President Obama's plan to pull all combat troops out by a year from now, the summer of 2010, how confidant are you that -- that Iraq, as a stable, moderate country, is going to make it?

CHENEY: I don't know. I don't know that anybody knows. I think it is very important that they have success from a political stand point. I think the Maliki government is doing better than it was at some points in the past. I hope that we see continued improvement in the Iraqi armed forces, security services.

But I think to have an absolute deadline by which you're going to withdraw, that's totally unconditioned to developments on the ground -- I think there's a danger there that you're going to let the drive to get out overwhelm the good sense of staying long enough to make certain the outcome is what we want.

WALLACE: Obviously, this weekend, the country is focused on the death of Ted Kennedy. What did you think of him?

CHENEY: Well, I -- personally, I liked him. In terms of policy, there's very little we agreed on. He was a liberal Democrat from Massachusetts. I was a conservative Republican from Wyoming. So there wasn't much that we had to work together on.

On the other hand, I admired the fact that he got into the arena as much as he did for most of his professional life, and was obviously a very active participant.

WALLACE: How are you adjusting to life out of power?

CHENEY: Well, this is the fourth time I've done it, Chris. So it's not my first rodeo, as we say. I'm enjoying private life. I just -- excuse me -- took my family on an Alaskan cruise for a week, all the kids and the grandkids. We've gotten to spend a great deal of time in Wyoming, which, as you can tell her in Jackson Hole, is one of the world's finer garden spots.

So I have, I think, adjusted with a minimal amount of conflict and difficulty. It's been pretty smooth.

WALLACE: What do you miss?

CHENEY: Oh, I'm a junky, I guess, all those years. I spent more than 40 years in Washington, and enjoyed, obviously, the people I worked with, wrestling with some of the problems we had to wrestle with. I enjoyed having the CIA show up on my doorstep every morning, six days a week, with the latest intelligence.

WALLACE: You miss that?



CHENEY: Because it was fascinating. It was important stuff. It kept me plugged in with what was going on around the world. And as I say, I'm a junky from a public policy stand point. I went to Washington to stay 12 months and stayed 41 years.

I liked it. I thought it was important. And I will always be pleased that I had the opportunity to serve.

WALLACE: Do you miss having your hands on the levers of power?

CHENEY: No, I don't think of it in those terms.

WALLACE: But I mean being able to affect things. You obviously feel strongly about these issues.

CHENEY: Right.

WALLACE: Do you miss the fact that now you're just another man watching cable news?

CHENEY: No, and as I say, I've been there before. I left government after the first Nixon term and went to the private sector. I left after the Ford administration and ran for Congress. Then left after the secretary of defense and went to the private sector. So these are normal kinds of transitions that you've got to make in this business.

What I've always found is that there are compensating factors to living a private life, to having more freedom and time to do what I want, and to spend more time with the family, which is very important. Over the years, you know, I've sacrificed a lot in order to be able to do those things I've done in the public sector.

WALLACE: Well, we want to thank you for talking with us and including in your private life putting up with an interview from the likes of me.

CHENEY: It's all right. I enjoy your show, Chris.

WALLACE: Thank you very much, and all the best sir.

CHENEY: Good luck.