Look, I've been yelling my head off about this for a while, but hopefully it'll sink in now that Peter Baker has said it in his monster Times Magazine piece on the Obama administration's national security policy:
Obama’s approach has been either a dangerous reversal of the Bush years or a consolidation of the Bush years, depending on who is talking. In fact, the new president, during his first year, has adopted the bulk of the counterterrorism strategy he found on his desk when he arrived in the Oval Office, a strategy already moderated from the earliest days after Sept. 11, 2001. He did, however, shave back some of the harsher edges of the remaining Bush policies and in the process of his recalibrations drew simultaneous fire from former Vice President Dick Cheney and the American Civil Liberties Union.
A half-dozen former senior Bush officials involved in counterterrorism told me before the Christmas Day incident that for the most part, they were comfortable with Obama’s policies, although they were reluctant to say so on the record. Some worried they would draw the ire of Cheney’s circle if they did, while others calculated that calling attention to the similarities to Bush would only make it harder for Obama to stay the course. And they generally resent Obama’s anti-Bush rhetoric and are unwilling to give him political cover by defending him.
Aside from torture, the fight between Obama and Cheney is not a policy argument, and never has been. It is a political argument in which the GOP has been willing to attack the very foundations of democracy and human rights in order to gain political ground, and many of those who know that Cheney's fear-mongering is groundless have stayed silent out of fear or petty political self-interest.
-- A. Serwer