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. Mike in Fairfax

    While one may or may not agree with Cheney and may or may not like him, this is ridiculous. No person in their right mind would logically think that Dick Cheney is looking for the USA to get attacked again. Ludicrous.

    June 15, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  2. mjm

    Come on. That's going too far. For this guy to suggest that Cheney want to see an attack on America just to prove a point is ridiculous.

    June 15, 2009 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  3. Panetta is Wrong

    Wow. Panetta is so wrong about this.

    Cheney has a PROVEN track record for keeping this country safe. Obviously he is privy to a lot more information than you & I & deems the current policies and procedures by the current administration dangerous. Nothing more, nothing less. I am thankful that Cheney is standing his ground on this one. As I mentioned, Cheney has proven himself....the current administration....not so much.

    June 15, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  4. Henry Miller

    Of course, Cheney would like nothing better than to see another 9/11, or something like it. It would justify all the years of paranoiac foreign policy he promoted.

    June 15, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  5. Joe

    anyone surprised?

    June 15, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  6. Dave

    Nice Headline...That's really good "unbiased" reporting! Tired of Media. You're right up there with tabloids.

    June 15, 2009 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  7. Jeremy

    Memo to Mr. Cheney:

    Shut-up and go away!

    June 15, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  8. Neiki

    Cheney needs to (for once) follow the lead of Bush..go away & never be heard from again! REALLY!! Seems that it's obvious that President Obama has covered all bases well including not letting the ones taking orders from the previous administration be the fall guys & scapegoats for the Bush/Cheney disaster they called leadership. Marines & soldiers followed direct orders. They did their job & if now the new Administration respects that. . . finally!!. . . then is stands to reason that President Obama's respect for their position should be held firm. Support our troops!!!!!!!! President Obama leads by example, how refreshing!!!!!!!!!

    June 15, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  9. Real Change

    This is TRUE !!

    Absolutely true. Thank God somebody has demonstrated the testicular fortitude to come out and say it !!

    June 15, 2009 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  10. JayG

    Please as much as Cheney is not liked by the public, the reason he is speaking out is to prevent another attack. Give the guy a break geez, he's been in the whitehouse the last 8 years and has seen the dangers and isnt looking through the rose colored glasses that Obama is. Like Cheney or not, but he is speaking out to prevent a future disaster, he has no power now so why fault him for speaking his mind or opinion.

    June 15, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  11. jrzshor

    is that the same nonsense that the "right" tv people were accused of. if you say it enough some people will believe it and take action.

    fear-hate mongering is bad on either side.

    stop the madness.

    June 15, 2009 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  12. WBN

    Panetta's like all liberals–super-sensitive to any and all criticism. he forgets how leading Dems (Pelosi, Kennedy, Reid, etc.) slandered Bush with terms like murderer, traitor, coward, etc., and Bush never winced. Just because Obama's wrong on foreign policy (which does put us at greater risk), don't start throwing around the "unpatriotic" label and scare terminology, Panetta.

    June 15, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  13. Brian0901

    Cheney is an EVIL man who thrives on death and destruction. When 9/11 happened I am surprised he was able to keep the smile off his face.

    June 15, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. I laugh at Limbaugh daily

    Cheney should be tried for treason,period.

    June 15, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Stacy Law

    Panetta is wrong IF people do their job badly, or do their job with the wrong approach and/or wrong information.

    The suggestion that Dick Cheney might be hoping for a terrorist attack, as CNN's headline suggests, is simply incredible.

    June 15, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. Dmitri Lowry

    Someone please arrest Cheney before he plans ANOTHER attack on America.

    June 15, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  17. Cheney is Defending the US

    How can Panetta seriously make comments such as these. How insane!

    I am thankful Cheney is standing his ground and trying to keep the United States safe. Thank you, Mr. Cheney!

    June 15, 2009 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  18. Ian Minneapolis, MN

    Finally a high up public figure says what everyone is thinking

    June 15, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  19. Dallas Independent - thank goodness

    I cannot believe a man in Panetta's position would dare make such a statement/comment! How utterly absurd. Even IF Cheney wishes Obama to fail and more still – Cheney truly believes what he says, right or wrong, he does NOT want the US to be attacked to make his point. This Panetta fella is obviously demented and clearly the wrong choice to lead the CIA. This, especially after letting big mouth Pelosi get by with her accusations of the CIA!

    June 15, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  20. Betty

    Comment? Nadda. Thought of it but then I considered the source of the mind it came from.

    June 15, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  21. James

    I do believe Dick wants an attack…just like the Republican Party and all the GOP. They love to dictate with fear. Fear. Fear. They loving nothing more than fear! Fear people that are different. Fear gay people. Fear woman who make choices. Fear the average worker.

    GOP= FEAR

    June 15, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  22. Cheney is right..

    Thanks again CNN for not showing my comment. I guess only anti-Cheney, Liberal comments get posted.

    June 15, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  23. Loup Garou 782

    If and when the United States is hit with another terrorist attack, we will all know it was orchestrated by Leon Panetta and the obama administration so they could blame former VP Cheney. Plagerism Joe Biden thinks the former VP's ideas on how to secure America are faulty. Under the leadership of Bush~Cheney there was one attack that had been in the planning stages long before Bush was sworn in to office. We know who was in charge prior to Bush. Does Clinton ring a bell?
    Panetta is a disgusting wimp.

    June 15, 2009 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  24. Phil

    Well Cheney should know about this since he has been/still is a type of terrorist attack himself - one against this country and its Constitution!

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  25. lf

    Nobody, but nobody wants an attack who is soundly thinking at all!!
    What is the source of Panetta's thinking, and conclusive evidence for these abstract deductions?? I begin to wonder about him. I hope all this fanfare is not political sparring just to win points, and this kind of rhetoric can cause great division and confidence in leaders.

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
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