Mystifying. Never mind that it’s bad form to criticize so soon after leaving office; why would he want to re-burden the pro-Gitmo side with the weight of his unpopularity? We’ve been carrying that load for years. Suddenly we’re free of it and able to engage purely on the merits and here he is dumping it on us again. For what? To make the sort of by-the-numbers pedestrian points that anyone on this side could make just as well?

“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.

Protecting the country’s security is “a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business,” he said. “These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek.”…

But he said he worried that “instead of sitting down and carefully evaluating the policies,” Obama officials are unwisely following “campaign rhetoric” and preparing to release terrorism suspects or afford them legal protections granted to more conventional defendants in crime cases.

The choice, he alleged, reflects a naive mindset among the new team in Washington: “The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected. Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy. I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”…

“If you release the hard-core Al Qaeda terrorists that are held at Guantanamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass-casualty attacks,” he said. “If you turn ’em loose and they go kill more Americans, who’s responsible for that?”

Rush, Hannity et al. recycle this argument on radio or TV every day, so Cheney chiming in brings plenty of cost but no real benefit. I hope he’s not planning to make a practice of it. Exit question: Does this mean if we’re attacked by jihadis who were freed during Bush’s term — which isn’t unthinkable — he’ll hold himself responsible?