Vice President Dick Cheney has said he expects to retire completely from public life after January 20 and return to Wyoming following nearly 40 years serving four presidents in Washington.
"Well, that’s my expectation," Cheney said Wednesday on CBS radio when asked if he would make a complete exit from the stage in 13 days, when he and President George W. Bush hand over to president-elect Barack Obama and vice president-elect Joseph Biden.
"It’s been over 40 years since I came to Washington to stay 12 months. And I think that’s long enough," said Cheney, possibly the most controversial vice president in US history.
"I think it’s time for somebody like me to step aside and make room for others. And I’ve got things I want to do and ways I can spend my time," he added.
Cheney, who turns 68 on January 30, said he has plenty of projects to keep him busy in his political retirement, including possibly writing a book.
"I’ve got a lot of rivers to fish," he added. "So I don’t think anybody will feel sorry for me. They shouldn’t."
On January 20 he and his wife Lynne return to Casper, the small town in the western state of Wyoming where he grew up.
Cheney came to Washington in 1969, first serving under president Richard Nixon and then Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush and eventually the current President Bush, in various capacities. He also served as a member of Congress.
After the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, Cheney became one of the administration insiders leading the charge for the US-led war in Iraq, and was an advocate for some of Bush’s most controversial policies including the use of "waterboarding," or simulated drowning, to extract information from enemy combatants.
But Cheney insisted that he has been misunderstand by Americans and others who believed that he was in charge of the White House.
"The notion that somehow I was pulling strings or making presidential-level decisions. I was not," he said.
"There was never any question about who was in charge. It was George Bush. And that’s the way we operated.
"This whole notion that somehow I exceeded my authority here, was usurping his authority, is simply not true. It’s an urban legend, never happened."
While Cheney has been described as one of the administration’s most secretive figures, the vice president insisted that "virtually all" of his official papers would be sent to the National Archives, the repository of documents for official Washington.
The question of who decides which of Cheney’s documents are to be preserved at the Archives remains a subject of controversy.