June 15th, 2009
02:39 PM ET
6 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. Fed Up

    Oh give me a break!! CNN quit reporting speculation and gossip as news.

    June 15, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  2. bcords

    Dick Cheney is a war criminal and thief. Why does anybody even listen to him, much less take what he says as credible!

    June 15, 2009 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  3. Angela

    I am getting so tired of Republicans. I really am. Like Pineda, I also believe the Cheney and all Republican talking heads are wishing for an attack. It is shameful but what I truly believe.

    June 15, 2009 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  4. GOPer

    Exactly! In order for Cheney to be vindicated for being the torturer of the Western Hemisphere, he is hoping for an attack on the USA. What kind of winning strategy is that?!? Cheney's policies, practices and wishes are simply Un-American. He is a disgrace to our party and to the USA.

    I Hope You and Your Daughter Are Reading This!!! You are a PATHETIC American Dick Cheney.

    June 15, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. RG

    We've allready had terrorist attacks. We have a new face of terrorism in the US, the homegrown kind, radical right wingers, not unlike Cheney, attacking other Americans. Al quida can sit back and laugh at us now.

    June 15, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA

    Cheney's a loon. I'm sure he doesn't mind all the domestic terrorism going on as well. He just wants to be able to say I told you so.

    June 15, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  7. Post always rejected by CNN

    The way he is trying his "bring it on" tatics you would think so. But even this darth vader could not be that violent and against America...but then his record shows he might.

    June 15, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  8. phoenix86

    Leon Panetta has now joined the rest of the Oblama adminstration in reaching a new rhetorical low (blame Cheney for future attacks?).

    Obamabots, who seem to be genetically ignorant, will of course applaud his statements without question.

    June 15, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  9. D. Tree

    Don't forget, 9/11 happened on Dick Cheney's watch – I don't think he knows anything about preventing terrorist attacks.

    All he cared about was invading Iraq, and that's the only reason he approved torture: to get a false confession in order to justify the invasion.

    The man is a criminal.

    June 15, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  10. dominican mama 4 Obama

    I find Mr. Cheney's comments treasonous. I wouldn't put it past him to bring about ANOTHER attack on American soil just to prove his point. I cannot comprehend how someone with Mr. Cheney's high profile in government can be allowed to make these types of comments. I'm well aware of the first ammendment, but at what point do we draw the line when an open invitation to any and all terrorists is practically being engraved and distributed? His comments are at best selfishly irresponsible, with total disregard for national safety. The blood he smells in the water is his own.

    June 15, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  11. Hot Chick

    Cheney is a sour loser.

    June 15, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  12. George the Democrat Obama fanatic.

    He is right. Cheney is.

    June 15, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  13. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Panetta said, "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."
    This is sad but true. Many people believe that the 9/11 attack was false flag terrorism and there is compelling evidence to support this theory, a theory that states our government allowed these attacks to happen in order to go to war.

    Alexander Mooney also states in his article, "Among Cheney's criticism is Obama's decision to cease the CIA's use of enhance interrogation techniques to extract information from terrorist suspects."
    **********************************
    DON'T YOU MEANT TORTURE? Why are you still calling it "enhanced interrogation techniques?
    IT WAS TORTURE!
    CALL IT WHAT IT IS!

    June 15, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  14. Me

    Most dangerous Vice president we ever had....Dick Cheney...!!!!!!

    June 15, 2009 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  15. krejaton

    The ultimate is pathetically lame assumptions. Just because he might disgree with the current administrations anti-terror policies does not begin to suggest he wants to see another terror attack on this country.

    And here I thought speaking foolishly would have been reserved for Biden. Truly an egregious accusation Panetta and beneath the dignity of the Obama administration.

    June 15, 2009 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  16. sifto77

    Panetta should book in on David Letterman show–he would fit right in–another vicious, vile attack from the left about a republican.

    June 15, 2009 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  17. VL- Chicago

    typical Obama administration garbage. How does he not get fired for this comment. Obama is running a fascist regime and is such a disappointment.

    June 15, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  18. beth

    Does anyone find this surprising? I think that Cheney and the Bush administration were thrilled for 9-11 happening.

    June 15, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  19. ron

    Better try to get my comments here before CNN removes it. Oh ya, they could leave my comments in limbo like 60% of my other posting, can't win.

    Of course cheney wants the US to be attacked again. He is looking at future prosecution for war crimes. bush, cheney, rumsfeld are all guilty of torture. If you don't hold these guys responsible you can never accuse any other dictator of this crime again.

    According to the bush administration Hitler can say that the medical experiments carried out on the Jews in WWII resulted in positive results therefore they were justified.

    June 15, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  20. Brian

    The same type of insinuation could easily be leveled at Democrats who obviously exploited the Iraq War for political gain {see how we haven't left yet}. This is an incredibly irresponsible and baseless accusation from the director.

    June 15, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  21. Liberal and Proud of It dot com

    Conservatives are obviously hoping for disaster and failure to plague the Obama Administration so they can return to the place they consider to be their rightful one: in power.

    They are not above manufacturing a crisis if they have to. We all remember the Clinton impeachment, which was a complete fraud. After a $65 million investigation, nothing was discovered – except that Clinton (like many of the Republicans who were persecuting him) had a girlfriend.

    Middle-class Conservatives should keep in mind that their leadership will allow the middle-class to suffer if that is how Conservatism can return to power. They only care about you on election day. Every other day, if their policies hurt you – well, that's just collateral damage.

    June 15, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  22. Sandy

    Dick Cheney is an evil, evil man. Tell me again why he was one of the few two-term vice-presidents who didn't run for president afterward?? When will this man and his former boss both stand trial for their crimes against humanity?

    June 15, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  23. James M. Holmes

    Of course Dick Cheney is hoping that we get attacked again... That alone would direct attention away from his war crimes and un-American support of torture...

    Dick Cheney NEEDS to be put on trial... He is a traitor and represents all that is wrong with America! Unfortunatly Democrats in Congress are too spineless to stand up to him and to demand an investgation!

    June 15, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  24. John G

    Cheney is not, I repeat NOT, "hoping for another terrorist attack".

    It is his opinion, to which he is entitled, that if we were to suffer another attack we would be ill prepared for it as a direct result of the actions of the current administration.

    I for one hope we don't have to find out the hard way.

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  25. mypitts2

    Cheney has absolute contempt for the American people, so anything is possible. I recall that, when a reporter told him that an overwhelming majority of Americans were against the Iraq War, he said, dismissively, "So?"
    This is his attitude toward people who offer up their sons and daughters to make the sacrifice he used five (or is it six?) deferments to avoid. Definition of a chickenhawk.

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
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