DICK…. Former Vice President Dick Cheney was a national disgrace and an embarrassment to himself while in office, but he’s not quite done engaging in some of the cheapest, most offensive, least honest demagoguery imaginable.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney warned that there is a “high probability” that terrorists will attempt a catastrophic nuclear or biological attack in coming years, and said he fears the Obama administration’s policies will make it more likely the attempt will succeed.

In an interview Tuesday with Politico, Cheney unyieldingly defended the Bush administration’s support for the Guantanamo Bay prison and coercive interrogation of terrorism suspects.

And he asserted that President Obama will either backtrack on his stated intentions to end those policies or put the county at risk in ways more severe than most Americans — and, he charged, many members of Obama’s own team — understand.

“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.”

Specifically on the issue of Guantanamo Bay, Cheney said that “about 11 or 12 percent” of the detainees released in recent years have “gone back into the business of being terrorists.” He added that the remaining inmates are “the hard core.”

Previous national leaders, once they leave office, usually maintain some sense of decorum, refraining from attacking their successors. Cheney waited just two weeks before accusing the Obama administration of coddling terrorists and putting American lives at risk. Classy.

Fact-checking a Cheney interview is daunting — let’s just say the former V.P. is not “truth-oriented” — but let’s quickly take note of some of these obvious whoppers. We know, for example, that Cheney’s comments about the detainee recidivism rate are wrong. (On a related note, Cheney, oddly enough, was blaming his own administration for releasing dangerous detainees.) His comments about the remaining inmates are also demonstrably false. Cheney said his torture policies prevented massive terrorist attacks, and that’s literally unbelievable, too.

But dishonesty aside, there’s one thing I’d love to hear Cheney explain. Since he and Bush left office, and Barack Obama started governing, al Qaeda seems to be in a bit of a panic. A former CIA counterterrorism official recently said, “For al-Qaeda, as a matter of image and tone, George W. Bush had been a near-perfect foil.” Rita Katz, head of a private company that monitors jihadist communications, said the terrorists’ hysterical rants against the new president show “just how much al-Qaeda is intimidated by Obama.”

If Cheney’s get-tough policies were so valuable, why was al Qaeda thrilled to have Bush around, and desperate now that Obama has been elected?

Post Script: Cheney also said, “The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected.” Yes, because if there’s one word that describes international attitudes towards the United States in the Bush era, it’s “respected.” Riiiiiiight.