To liberal Americans during the Bush years, Vice President Dick Cheney was the apotheosis of evil in the modern world. Four years later, they have decided he was right all along.

Cheney argued that individual rights and constitutional rules might be important, but saving lives was more important by far. As David Addison, Cheney’s chief of staff, once insisted when the Office of Legal Counsel was threatening to withhold approval of one counterterrorism program: “If you rule that way, the blood of the hundred thousand people who die in the next attack will be on your hands.”

To liberals, this was absolute hogwash. The threat of a terrorist attack—even one as horrific as 9/11—did not justify the manifold constitutional affronts, from warrantless wiretapping to demanding library patrons’ records under the Patriot Act, that the Bush administration was committing. Yes, saving lives was important—but not at the expense of civil liberties and constitutional law.

All of that, writes A. Barton Hinkle, was before Aurora.