it's not surprising at all the dick cheney doesn't understand the concept of an independent justice department. but what cheney didn't notice is that his claim that the president is the "chief law enforcement officer" completely undermines his main argument against the holder's appointment of a special prosecutor.
cheney argues against the appointment because he says that the decision was "political" and claims that the torture issue had already been investigated during the bush administration. but if the president were the chief law enforcement officer and holder was just like every other political appointment and not an independent decision-maker on legal issues, then every decision the AG's office ever makes would be "political." if every decision is political, then there's nothing remarkable about calling the choice to appoint an independent prosecutor "political." it's just like every other decision the AG makes.1
likewise, if we adopt cheney's view of the justice department, the fact that the bush administration's justice department already investigated the bush-era torture regime shouldn't satisfy anyone. if the justice department is just an arm of the administration, it would have a clear conflict of interest in investigating its own administration. cheney is giving us the reason not to take that investigation seriously. if bush were the chief law enforcement officer and attorney general gonzalez was acting as his agent, then gonzalez's investigation of bush administration policies would lack any credibility whatsoever. all the more reason that gonzo should have appointed an independent prosecutor, just as holder is now.
1-to be clear, i don't believe that holder's decision is purely political. in fact, i think he had little choice but to make the appointment. all i'm saying is that if you adopt cheney's world view, where the AG is not independent of the president, then calling a particular decision "political" is completely unremarkable.