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Cheney warns against impulsive action in Iraq

WASHINGTON(AP) – Vice President Dick Cheney, warning against impulsive U.S. action in Iraq, says that whether the struggling nation backslides into a cycle of violence partly depends on how President-elect Barack Obama decides to pull out American forces.

"An irresponsible withdrawal now is exactly the wrong medicine," Cheney said in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press.

During a wide-ranging discussion in his West Wing office, Cheney also said he sees no reason for President George W. Bush to pre-emptively pardon anyone at the CIA involved in harsh interrogations of suspected terrorists.

"I don’t have any reason to believe that anybody in the agency did anything illegal," he said.

Asked whether he believes the president needs to apologize for not foreseeing the nation’s financial meltdown, Cheney said: "I don’t think he needs to apologize. I think what he needed to do is take bold, aggressive action and he has. ... I don’t think anybody saw it coming."

Cheney is leaving the White House after a government career spanning four decades, including stints as defense secretary, President Gerald R. Ford’s chief of staff and a longtime congressman from Wyoming. In a broadcast interview earlier this week, the vice president dismissed as "urban legend" the notion that he played his role as second-in-command like a wizard, controlling the levers of the Bush presidency from behind the scenes.

Still, Cheney will be seen as one of if not the most influential vice presidents in U.S. history.

After Obama takes the oath of office on Jan. 20, the 67-year-old Cheney plans to possibly write a book and spend time with his wife, Lynne, their two daughters and six grandchildren. He and his wife will split their time between their house in Virginia and their hometown of Casper, Wyo.

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