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. Ted

    Very irresponsible by Panetta. Cheney was a dedicated public servant. He thinks Obama's approach to national security is dead wrong. He wishes the opposite of what Panetta says, and that's why he has spoken up.

    Obama should ask Panetta to step down. Cabinet officials can't be playing politics like this. Panetta needs to worry about actual threats to the country, not what retired politicians say.

    June 15, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  2. Cecilia

    I have an idea – why don't we just drop this complete and total uppatriotic jerk off somewhere in the mountians around Pakistan –
    we can call it the "Cheney Shock and Awe"
    or we could arrist him for treason – I really don't care – I just want the fool to shut the hell up

    June 15, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  3. James, Ho. TX

    America is "Safer" because Bush and Cheney are not there in D.C. ; As to make deals behind closed doors !

    June 15, 2009 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  4. Lou

    There is no drought in my mind that Cheney wants the present administration to fail. I am sure he wants something bad to happen to see Obama as a failure. I do suggest a Obama and the administration to be very vigilant specially from radical groups domestically from radical American groups rather than foreign groups.

    June 15, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  5. Joshua College Station, TX

    Cheney should definitely be prosecuted. CIA officers who act without conscience should be prosecuted. Anyone who breaks the law egregiously should be prosecuted.

    June 15, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  6. rancho

    People like Cheney (and his supporters) are totally disconnected from reality.

    June 15, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  7. Moe

    I'm sure Cheney already figured out how he and Hallibutron would make money from another terrorist attack. That's why he wants it to happen.

    June 15, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  8. anderson n carolina

    We all know what Cheney's media blitze has been about the past few weeks. It's called CYA! Typical Republican mindset....Your with us or your antiamerican! It's not going to work this time.

    June 15, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  9. Ted

    Chip said "As I remember, the only major terrorist attack in the last 20 years happened on his watch."

    So he doesn't remember the first WTC bombing or the OKC bombings? They didn't happen when Bush was in office.

    June 15, 2009 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  10. Scott

    It would not suprise me a bit. Cheney is a dangerous man and he would do anything at the cost of lives to get his way. If the media keeps giving him publicity, he will keep trying to confuse the American people and place this country in a worse shape than when him and Bush was in the White House. This economy problem and security issue just didnt start when Obama came to office. Remember, these things was going on during the Bush and Cheney time too. Why dont the Government investigate Cheney and Bush alot closer and see who these people is tied too. I would say it would shock America.

    June 15, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  11. Ronald Clowney

    Dick Cheney should not be held responsible for what he says or do. In "Alcoholics Anonymous" it says that men and women (like Cheney)are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. If he had recovered from alcoholism, he wouldn't be making outrageous statements. He just doesn't have the capacity to be honest according to "Alcoholics Anonymous". Leon Panetta is correct it was "dangerous politics" for Cheney to repeatedly insist President Obama has made the country less safe. Panetta should show some compassion for Cheney's illness. Alcoholism is a disease where there is no known cure. Just because I'm liberal and disagree with the principles of conservatism, that does not give me the right to criticize someone I happen to know is ill.

    June 15, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  12. chuck, OK

    This is not a surprise. This is part of the Republican SOP going forward. They hope that everything bad that can happen to this country happens on President Obama’s watch. Hoping for failure in the national security arena or economically, makes no difference to them just as long it is something terrible that they can use to regain the power that they have sold their souls for.

    I can’t believe people still vote for these Anti-American losers.

    June 15, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  13. joseph

    He has the capability of making it happen. He has got connections with Blackwater (dont know what its new name is) and these mercenaries will soon be out of Iraq and am sure he can plot an attack here under the guise of a terrorist attack. Plus dont forget Halliburton and his huge investments with the military machinery development. Oh , I wouldn't be surprised if he already has something up his sleeve.

    June 15, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. kcl

    Now Cheney will make a big deal about denying this claim and it'll become a bigger issue yet. We never heard from him as a VP, why now? A very dangerous stance for our country, he needs to get over the loss.

    June 15, 2009 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  15. Thi in California

    I think Mr. Cheney should be quiet since we all know quite well now that Obama administration does NOT have ability to do anything but just sweet-talking and blaming. Everything is same as before or getting worst: from the economy to North Korea, Iran, Irag, Pakistan, Afganistan, Israel-Palestine, you can name some more.

    So if someone saying something different, you just create jobs for Obama's administration. This administration is very well in the blaming work and this is the key for Obama get elected.

    June 15, 2009 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  16. ObamaShrugged

    How will Obama's policies turn down the hate? These people do not care about our policies, they only want to destroy our way of life. Will Obama's policies be to accept the Taliban's right to subvert women and train terrorists. If we lay down our guns, they will not do the same – they will kill us all as we try to reason with them. Bush/Cheney know this and have prevented further attacks since 9/11.

    "Son, we live in a world that has walls and those walls need to be guarded by men with guns... and that my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, saves lives... I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said "thank you," and went on your way."

    June 15, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Jeff B.

    That's an awful statement by the CIA director.

    Wow. Things are so much better in the world now that Obama is president. Everyone loves us, now. Even the mullahs. I don't see how we could be attacked again, now that everyone can see what wonderful people we are.

    Not long from now, the period from 9/11/01 – 1/19/09 will seem like the good old days...

    June 15, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  18. the old sage

    WOW–NO KIDDING. I have stated this over and over. how else does the right right right wing get back to the future???? tricky dick's told you so way of creating perfume out of the bush/cheney manure always works but it also shows the motive of any individual. when someone puts themselve and their own ego ahead of what is good for this country well we have another Iraq–another illegal war-why? to prove a point, to show HOW STRONG WE ARE. doesn't the hate shown to us by other countries prove this???
    note: i am one of the those Christians/white/successful businessmen and ex-ex-republican because the basics of helping our people who can't help themselves was lost to wall street and the bankers.

    when not if we have a terrorist attack-we deal with this group but nobody should be happy for another 911–nobody–but as i just read, watch for signs of blood when it does happen.

    June 15, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  19. Esco

    I'm glad that even the CIA director can call Cheney out on this issue. He as slandered Obama's name so many times already, and that is why Obama is ignoring him to a certain degree. Cheney needs to back off and find something he can actually do to help the U.S. and the President.

    We have better things to worry about, including the new President of Iran.

    June 15, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  20. Jeremy

    Cheney seems to be overlooking one major fact here: we were attacked under his watch! Bush and Cheney ignored warnings from people within their administration. Just a week or so ago, he placed blame on the person who warned about attacks by planes. If he is wishing for a terrorist attack, then I am wishing for Cheney to have another heart attack.

    June 15, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  21. Ren from Baltimore

    Mr. Panetta is one American who has finally had it with Mr. Cheney. More of us, especially our leaders, should have the gumption to put Cheney on notice that he's damaging the nation, perhaps even fatally so.

    The former VP has gone over the wall along with Rush and the others; do they have a secret island at an undisclosed location that they can go hide in when the nukes start flying? Is that what's going on??

    June 15, 2009 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  22. Paul from Phoenix

    Cheney is a lot of things, but this is preposterous. GOP had the same argument during Bush's term, saying that Dems wanted an attack to show that Bush wasn't keeping us safe.

    It was stupid then, and it is stupid of Dems to think Cheney wants us to get attacked now.

    June 15, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  23. txkboy

    Cheney no longer holds office. The media and Democrats need to stop acting like a bullied kindergartener, and quit pointing the finger at the past administration...IT'S OVER!!

    June 15, 2009 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  24. Diane Panama City Fl

    Pat,CA: The only outrageous comments being made these days about our safety and security are coming out of the mouths of the Seditionists Party of America aka: Republicans – led by their titular head: Rush Limbaugh. You can easily recognize them, they run around with Tea Bags hanging off their pointed heads.

    June 15, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  25. honest Ab

    Why in the world would we listen to this murderer and liar, who killed our troops. It makes me want to vomit to just look at him. These are old white men that America need to denounce and get rid of, forever. They are only dividing this country all the more. It's a shame we are going all over the world trying to make peace and we ourselves are at war with our own countrymen. It almost make you feel like our soldiers are dying in vain, especially our minority men and women. Can you imagine they are fighting and dying for freedom and equality, while racsim and hate is being formed against their families back on homeland. What an embarassment for this country. We look so stupid, I'm sure in the eyes of other countries.

    June 15, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
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