June 15th, 2009
02:39 PM ET
9 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. Mark in Miami

    Panetta needs to apologize for his remarks or RESIGN. Can you imagine what would have happened if a republican had said that about a democrat????

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  2. Change_Has_Begun

    Thank you Mr. Panetta someone had to say it and you had the courage. The way Chenny is acting shows how paranoid he is that he might be prosecuted. Chenny needs to calm down and shut the hell up. If you did wrong than you will be punished. Enough of powerful men abusing power and information for personal gains by handing out government contracts to Blackwater and Halli Burton.

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  3. JonDie

    Of course, Cheney wishes for a terrorist attack. Cheney's corporate sponsors made HUNDREDS OF BILLIONS of DOLLARS on the 9-11 attacks, which were deceitfully used by Cheney and friends to justify the looting of Iraq, even as at the same time Cheney and company moved to greatly increase the power of the federal government over its citizens for the benefit of his corporate sponsors. That's exactly why people like Cheney, Gingrich and Palin regularly provide rhetoricial aid and comfort to the enemies of the United States.

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  4. ZION

    Cheney is very evil, I wouldn't put anything pass him!!

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  5. Chai-wallah

    I thought as much! Mr. Cheney can't seem to get it thought his thick head that the war machine serves no purpose except making he and his friends richer.

    With several deferments and no service; he seem to think he knows more than any military leader alive or dead. Someone as arrogant as he is should be sent to Gitmo to serve rest or his miserable live in seclusion.

    June 15, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  6. katiec

    It has been obvious with his actions that Cheney does hope for an attack under President Obama's watch so he can say, I told you so.
    But, what he doesn' tell us is that terrorists and terrorists groups have increased drastically due to his and Bush's unjustied, arrogant, self serving actions. The hate, anger, distrust for our country by the world increased dramatically with their lack of diplomacy, "so" attitude and horrible mistakes.
    They left our relations with other countries in shambles and did damage to our safety.

    June 15, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  7. Eddie B.

    Cheney continues to utilize the same fear tactics his administration perpetrated on the American people while he was in office. I do believe that if there was another terrorists attack under the Obama administration that the Republicans would jump all over it and utilize it as a rallying cry. This disgusts me considering 9/11 happened on Cheney's watch.

    June 15, 2009 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  8. Pete

    Would we expect anything else from a pea-brained draft dodger like Cheney? He has never known what he's talking about because he hasn't lived it. He's hidden behind the safe walls of business and academia all his life and has spent no time in the field. On top of that, he can't stand the idea that the American people could actually reject the Wolfowitz Doctrine. Holder and the Justice Department need to continue to push forward, not wimp out, and file charges against the Bushies for their crimes. When Cheney is in court, on trial for war crimes, THEN he can spout off about how much more about national security he knows than Obama, and then the whole world can laugh at him.

    June 15, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  9. LacrosseMom

    Deeply saddened that any American, especially a former-leader would wish such a thing on their own nation, but it is ........ true. I have forced myself to listen to some of the Cheney's interviews on Faux News, and his attitude and words send chills down my spine.

    I thought 'this man wants the U.S. attacked, so he can say, Ah-ha! I told you so!' I consider Cheney evil, he is just a terrible person. One who claims to be Christian yet condones and approves of torture. How can someone who loves Jesus, also condone the torture of a human being?

    Its is disturbing to me, that Cheney would actually want our nation attacked just to prove his warped beliefs!

    June 15, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  10. sky

    What confuses me is why the memo Cheney put out that said that the only way we could get into a war for oil in Iraq was to have another "Pearl Harbor" type incident....hasnt really been discussed.

    June 15, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  11. Wilson

    Give me a break. He does not want us attacked. Just another hit job by democrats on anyone who opposes any part of their national security plans. Obama has basically validated everything Bush did in Iraq and Afghanistan & else where continuing the missions. So if Cheney disagrees with Obama on just a few things that is pretty amazing considering all the campaign rhetoric against all things Bush/Cheney.

    June 15, 2009 10:35 am at 10:35 am |
  12. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Dick Cheney and George Bush created tens of millions of rightfully angry new enemies of America with their unjust attack on Iraq and the subsequent deaths of 1.3 MILLION Iraqis. Look how angry we all felt losing 3,000 souls on 9-11......and we expect the Muslim world to "get over" the unwarranted deaths of over a million of their own? I hope I live to see Cheney and Bush pay dearly for their war crimes and crimes against America. Never in my 55 years have I seen my country so ravaged on so many levels....yet Cheney keeps right on damaging us. Why is he on TV instead of behind bars?

    June 15, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  13. JF Cardona

    What happened to the strict policy that the Bush "regime" had on questioning the President? I herad Mr. Cheney more thAN once insist that "it is un-american to question the leader of the free world. It is irresponsible and puts the nation at risk." I guess once the "regime" is over, the laws they enforced are not applicable to them.

    June 15, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  14. marty cunninham

    The dems did the same thing when we went into Iraq. They were "rooting" for us to lose so they could complain about Bush. I'm tired of their hypopcrisy and the media's lack of coverage of it.

    June 15, 2009 10:36 am at 10:36 am |
  15. J

    He is right! Dick Cheney DOES want a terrorist attack so that he could say he is right.

    So once again people are going to be crucified b/c why? They were TOO HONEST and TOO TRUTHFUL??

    June 15, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  16. T

    they're just figuring this out now?

    Cheney obviously wants another terrorist attack so it makes his legacy actually look legitimate!!!

    June 15, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  17. Dawn, Ada, Ohio

    It's the truth. Then he could rectify every thing he has ever done in the name of Democracy. He would then say: that is why I wanted to torture. That is why I wanted to wire tap. That is why I wanted gitmo. A new attack on our country would be the best case scenario for Dick Cheney and the Worst Case Scenario for the US.

    June 15, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  18. linda b reynolds

    I think Mr. Cheney is being a bit presumptious in criticizing the Obama
    administration about safety of our nation when he obviously missed
    his chance to personally assist during the Vietnam conflict. How many deferments did he accept?
    Also, his former co-workers certainly profited from the Iraq war. I think Mr. Cheney should just sit down and be quiet.

    June 15, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  19. CJS

    Where was Cheney for the 8 years he was in office? I never heard less of a Vice-President or saw fewer pictures of one. Now he is in the news almost daily & always making negative comments. We knew where Bush was every minute, but never knew where Cheney was for 8 years. He should stay out of sight & out of ear shot.

    June 15, 2009 10:39 am at 10:39 am |
  20. MW-Iowa

    Of course he is hoping for another Terrorist attack...he had a hand in the last one! The last attack and the war in Iraq has made him millions through Haliburton.

    June 15, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  21. daunt

    Dick Cheney is a sad hate filled man.

    June 15, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  22. Jeff Brown

    Dick is a vicious person. I suspect he is a closet alcoholic with many deeply rooted mental issues. Shame on anyone who voted for him, or continue to listen to his divisive drivel. The best thing he can do for our country is go away and give the president the opportunity to succeed!

    June 15, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  23. Margaret

    Good for Panetta. I happen to agree with him and think that Cheney would feel vindicated in some way if we were attacked again.

    Mind you, Obama's not helping much with innocent civilians still getting killed with those airstrikes in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We're still making enemies albeit at a slower pace than with Bush/Cheney in charge.

    Does Cheney still have access to those secret locations he used to spend so much time in?

    June 15, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  24. Tasha

    THANK U!! gosh Ive been thinkn it all along

    June 15, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  25. Ranger7

    Lock him up.!!

    .......... get this creep out of our society!!!.

    June 15, 2009 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
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