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. J.P.

    Wishing? Pffft...

    There is no need to wish... all one needs is to set your clock... give it time, it will happen.

    1990s deja vu... fighting a war against terrorists with the almighty and oft-dreaded tools of the summons, subpeona and courtdate... ooooo, I'm sure the headchoppers are surely as scared now as they were in 1995.

    Give it time, give it time, it will happen... and Barry won't be able to blame it on Bush, even as much as his sycophantic enablers in the media would like to try.

    June 15, 2009 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  2. ObamaShrugged

    Chip,
    You're an idiot. Read the 9/11 report. All the planning and training happened on Clintons watch. He had several chances to take out bin Laden and didn't have the balls to pull the trigger. If Dick was there in '98, 9/11 never happens and bin Laden is just another dead terrorist.

    June 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Alex Polyak

    Is that kind of like far left democrats "wishing" Bush would fail, the war in Iraq would fail, the Bush tax cuts would fail, ect., ect., ect.?

    June 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  4. Billy

    Utter failure by CNN on Iran.

    Hey CNN, feel free to call me and I can explain to you what's going on in Iran right now.

    MSM was dealt a death blow this weekend.

    June 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  5. Ryan Indy

    My first problem with this is CIA director shouldnt be PARTISIAN, secondly was AL GORE using Gallow politics when he day in and day out Bad mouthed the Bush Administration and personally attacked GW???? Democrats really are hilarious they show absolutely no respect for GW for 8 yrs, calling him every name in the book but yet when the shoe is on the other foot they simple cant take the criticism. Especially when Cheney has some very valid points about Obama making us Weaker and showing weakness to the world. Sounds like the Democrats can call you every name in the book but the moment someone sticks up for themselves and throws something back , they pick up there ball, cry a little bit and go home......Democrats are hypocrites and huge WIMPS....

    June 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  6. GenTwelve

    When Von Brauun let loose in the Holocost musuem where was Dick Cheney? Probably in a private room with his daughter with a big grin on his face hoping for a high death count. "The Cheneys" a portrait in American Vulgarity!!!

    June 15, 2009 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  7. Bob of Lompoc

    Right on Brother Panetta. Hannity, Boss Limbaugh, Gingrich, Ingraham, O'Reilly, Crazy Michael Savage, Boortz, Larson, Boehmer, McConnell, Cheney Daughter, Cheney Himself, all bowling balls tied to the Republican Party, dragging them down, down, down.

    Dick Cheney: Go back to watching the videos of the torture, and don't forget to close your shades. Someone may be watching

    June 15, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  8. Jim

    If it happens, it won't be because of his words.

    June 15, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  9. Heather

    Funny. I've also said this in passing long ago. I truly believe that there is part of Cheney that, indeed, hopes there will be a terrorist attack during the present administration. Not only to prove his "it will happen again" rantings, but also to justify assault on citizen privacy and let the world know that this sort of thing doesn't just happen during the Bush administration. The Republicans almost need it in their struggle for power.

    June 15, 2009 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  10. Pee Wee

    It's pretty sad that Panetta's opinion of what he believes Cheney thinks makes a headline. Has Panetta asked Cheney? No. He just gives an opinion based on what, mind-reading? The news outlets run with it and we get it spinning out of control.

    Sad.

    June 15, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  11. Dave from Jacksonville

    Maybe this will make Cheney realize what he is alluding to and he will shut up!

    June 15, 2009 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  12. david, CA

    Cheney IS BFF with Rush who wants Obama to fail. AIn't much of a stretch to imagine Dick sharing that thinking. What more spectacular way to fail than in the same way Bush/Cheney failed to keep America safe on 9/11.

    June 15, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  13. Buffalo

    Repub in VA: Whether Cheney wishes it or not, its (terrorist attack)going to happen.

    OK, you are smart enough to realize that our Country will someday, somehow, be attacked by a terrorist group, either from without or within. Your statement does not give a time or date and so, it's possible and likely it will happen sometime between now and a thousand years from now. My questions for you: Are you involved in such planning? Are you another Timothy McVeigh or Terry Nichols? Are you a member of some foreign terrorist group? Yes, I'm calling you out: Will you man up and respond?

    June 15, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  14. Tony

    If Pelosi has declared the CIA as LIARS, The Adminstration has not rebuffed her, then are we to assume that Leon Panetta is a LIAR?

    If so, can we believe anything he says?

    Panetta's comments sound like they are coming from George Soros. You would have to be an idiot to think that ANYONE wants the US to be hit. If you think that Cheney believes that, you are an IDIOT and not capable of a thinking.

    Please, this is a no brainer and strictly here for the left to feast on.

    June 15, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  15. dave

    Cheney has spent the past 8 years defending America and allowing the liberal anti-American media to slander his name day after day. He ignored polls and did what was truly best for the American people.

    Now Cheney suddenly "wishes" for antother terrorist attack to boost his popularity??? That charge is disgusting and dangerous, which is why I am sure the anti-American liberal media will run with it.

    June 15, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  16. RealityKing

    Pencil neck is the one doing the wishing. Because we all know the progressively state run media isn't going to blame Obama.., for anything.

    June 15, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  17. Pat F

    I'm disappointed in Leon Panetta for this – I thought he had more sense. He should stay OUT of the political fray. Cheney is a free citizen entitled to his views.

    June 15, 2009 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  18. G

    We cannot be afraid to discuss and debate. We need to challenge Cheney on positions that we disagree and consider areas that he might be right. Personally attacking him does not get us anywhere. Suggesting that he wishes there is another attack is untrue and unfair.

    June 15, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  19. cool onlooker

    Have we ever seen Cheney on news lines this frequently before? What had he done in those 8 years? Deaf and Mute, and lost his sensitivity to national security? Why all of a sudden he becomes so ALERT to terrorism?

    June 15, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  20. VL- Chicago

    what's wrong with you obama nuts? can you take any comment at face value and not make ridiculous assumptions? Be honest with yourself, the comment is ridiculous. This is the problem we have with politics...we get a group of nuts supporting anything their moronic candidate or elected official says...then we have wars, high taxes and less freedom. Wake up!

    June 15, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  21. Dave from Jacksonville

    The CIA is in the business of assessing a persons motives from what he says....

    June 15, 2009 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  22. Chris

    Just another old white guy afraid of a black man running the show... Cheney would see it all burn in order to spare himself being 1-upped by Obama.

    June 15, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  23. Tektite in Houston

    What's wrong with Cheney? He needs to be examined by a qualified mental health group. He should be ashamed of himself. Is he really an American citizen?

    June 15, 2009 11:36 am at 11:36 am |
  24. Ryan

    I can see him thinking that. Evil man.

    June 15, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  25. Jonita

    If we are attacked again it will be becuase of Cheney and Bush and their treatment of detainee's and the waterboarding of others..That is Why we would be attacked it has nothing to do with President Obama and with the VP constantly looking for a camera there are a lot of Nuts out there who will believe the lies that come out of his "Draft-dodging Mouth...He wants us to be attacked simply so he can say" I told you so"...he is a disgraceful,disgraceful human being and I use the term loosley..

    June 15, 2009 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
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