June 15th, 2009
02:39 PM ET
5 years ago

CIA head suggests Cheney hoping for terrorist attack

Panetta says Cheney is almost 'wishing' for a terrorist attack.
Panetta says Cheney is almost 'wishing' for a terrorist attack.

(2:00 p.m. ET update with Cheney response)

(CNN) - Dick Cheney's recent criticism of the Obama administration's national security policies suggests the former vice president is almost "wishing" the United States gets hit with another terrorist attack, according to CIA Director Leon Panetta.

During an interview in the current issue of the New Yorker, Panetta says Cheney's wide range of recent criticisms of Obama - including the decision to close the detention center at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba - show the ex-vice president "smells some blood in the water on the national security issue."

"It's almost, a little bit, gallows politics," said Panetta. "When you read behind it, it's almost as if he's wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point."

Asked about Panetta's comments during an appearance on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday, Vice President Joe Biden said he would refrain from questioning his predecessor's motives.

"I think Dick Cheney's judgment about how to secure America is faulty," Biden said. "I think our judgment is correct. I don't question his motive."

But Panetta, the former White House chief of staff under President Clinton, also said in the New Yorker interview it was "dangerous politics" for Cheney to repeatedly insist President Obama has made the country less safe.

Among Cheney's criticism is Obama's decision to cease the CIA's use of enhance interrogation techniques to extract information from terrorist suspects - a practice the former vice president says yielded information that prevented massive terrorist attacks, though he says security reasons prevent him from revealing specifically to which incidents he is referring.

Panetta said he supports the president's decision and, like Obama, does not think CIA agents who engaged in the techniques under President Bush should be prosecuted.

"I'm going to give people the benefit of the doubt," he said. "If they do the job that they're paid to do, I can't ask for a hell of a lot more."

UPDATE: In a statement provided to CNN, Cheney said, "I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted."

"The important thing is whether or not the Obama Administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last 8 years."


Filed under: Dick Cheney • Leon Panetta
soundoff (294 Responses)
  1. Erik in Real Pennsylvania

    No, Mr. Panetta's speculation is too much of a stretch. Dick Cheney is still an evil piece of thing, though.

    June 15, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  2. My brain got baked in Phoenix

    Lets see Limbaugh spin this,hahaha

    June 15, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. demwit

    Cutting the military increases our saftey...., progressively speaking. Get it now??

    June 15, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  4. Barbara Independent in NY

    Dick Cheney exposed. He truly is one of the most evil men in politics.

    June 15, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  5. Andy from CA

    From hoping Obama fails to wishing for a terror attack, this is Repub. thinking. These are the kind of peeps, we as Americans, share zip codes with?

    June 15, 2009 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  6. gae

    Why hasn't Cheney been prosecuted for war crimes yet? He has admitted that he approved torture, that the justifications for attacking Iraq were BS, and he leaked the identity of an undercover CIA agent. Now he is just bragging about it. He is practically begging to be prosecuted. He says that the Dems are spineless and Obama's lack of action is proving him right. PROSECUTE HIM.

    June 15, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  7. Huh?

    Donna ... "Dick Cheney has dedicated his life to making this a better country." ... you have to be kidding!
    Dick Cheney has dedicated his life to using the people of this country to put money in his pocket and gain power for himself.
    He sees us as cannon fodder. He sees us as raw materials for his machinery. He sees us as biomass.

    June 15, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  8. Tom Paine

    This is stupid on stilts.

    Amazing how someone like Panetta with no CIA experience and no knowledge of National Security matters winds up running the CIA.

    June 15, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  9. One for Justice in RI

    Chainey definitely smells blood in the water and its only a matter of time before he and all who supported the antics which got this country in such horrible shape over the past 8 reprehensible years – are once and for all exposed. This terrorfies him and he'd do anything to distract from the real issue at hand.

    June 15, 2009 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  10. quarterback

    Cheney is a traitor. He is endangering this country.

    If he was so great, why did the attack happen when he was in office?

    You conservatives cannot admit that this psychopath and his puppet Bush did the most damage to this country since the Civil War.

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  11. BILL, WI

    Mr. Panetta has forgotten his job title. As a CIA director he should run the agency he is in charge of, and not make ignorant political statements that have no basis in fact. Maybe he is making up for the Ms. Pelosi fiasco and trying too hard to prove that he is still a Democrat at heart. Better yet now that Mr. Panetta is clairvoyant maybe he should join the David Letterman show and get paid to make cheap jokes.

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  12. Annoyed American from Florida

    Its really funny that everyone wants to attack fmr VP Cheney, claiming that he's Anti-American, wishing for another terrorist attack or that he's a war criminal, but let me ask this, when did it become Anti-American to enjoy your freedom of speech? When did it become wrong to speak your mind? I thought thats what so many brave men and women fought to defend. Quite frankly, as much as I'd rather the CIA director focused on continuing to ensure our safety, he too has the right to voice his opinion, right or wrong.

    Lets move past this bickering and work to better this country. For those that want to say that Cheney violated the Constitution, well once you start standing up the for the Constitution not just party politics, I'll start listening. Quite frankly this current administration has trampled on our rights, freedoms and liberties much more than Cheney did.

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  13. Jim in Florida

    bravado in boston

    "it's high time we hold our past leaders accountable and try them before a group of their piers. "

    That would be "peers" – you are obviously a product of government run education.

    Hope you are around to chant the same chant when we ultimately have to clean uyp Obama's mess after he leaves office.

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  14. John

    A national headline on CNN and Cheney is made to look like a traitor?!? Allowing Panetta to "read between the lines" to derive a headline is irresponsible!!! Period. Edward R Murrow is spinning in his grave at what media and journalism have become!!

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  15. Steve

    Oh, c'mon, some of you cannot be that ignorant.

    Of course Cheney would like nothing more than terrorists to bomb the hell out of us again. It plays right into the republicans politics if that were to happen and, by the look on Cheneys face everytime I see him anywhere, he would love nothing more than to be able to say I told you so, regardless of the reasoning why.

    If terorists are going to blow something up here, they will more than likely be successful becuase, in reality, you cannot possibly watch everywhere at once. It just isnt possible....of course unless you are willing to part with your freedoms to be constantly watched all the time, followed, have your papers checked by local authorities every 20 steps to insure you are supposed to be where you are, stuff like that.

    Are you willing to give up all you have earned for a small degree of safety?

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  16. Jerry

    Cheney simply pointing out how stupid Obama and Panetta are when dealing with insane terrorists.

    June 15, 2009 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12