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. George Guadiane Austerlitz, NY

    Based on the things he has said, the way he has said them, whom he has said them to, his apparent intentions and actions as Vice President, I cannot help myself in believing that Dick Cheney would LOVE nothing more than to see America in ruins "as a result of failing to believe in and trust the actions and intentions of the Bush administration." (OK, he didn't say that, but couldn't you just hear it coming out of his mouth?)

    About TORTURE: How can we justly CLAIM to be a better people if we fail to behave in a better way? When the Japanese wateboarded Americans, we called it (and it was found to be, in International Court) TORTURE... How can we now call it anything else?

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  2. Almost wishing for nonpartisanship

    Apparently Panetta fears Cheney is right.

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  3. Mallory Oberlinsk

    Way to go, Panetta. Seems you should be more concerned with what our enemies are thinking than trying to state for Mr Cheney (not our enemy) what he thinks. Are you sure you know what YOU think? Are you sure you know what your boss thinks?

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  4. mdspells

    Is it safe to say that these are scare tactis from some on who feels like no one will rememeber his legacy or won't hold him in the highest regard when you talk about the positive side of our nations history. Torture is wrong and if my uncle was alive he would tell you so, and about being a POW in WWII. I am more scared as an American of our on radicals than those from abroad. How can I feel safe when there is another timothy mcveigh just around the corner fueled by what Dick Cheney and some his fellow repulicans are trying to do to this nation.I pray that isn't another attack under Obama or anybody's watch. America is the best nation on this planet despite the last 8 years.

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  5. jam

    Let's just send Cheney to Afghanisan to do a little pheasant hunting.

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  6. Dave B

    Cheney's kind of nuts. Isn't he? I mean. Let go of it already.

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  7. changing my screen name to see if it helps getting my comments posted

    Darn right he is. So are a lot of Republicans. That way they can say "See, we told you so. The Democrats can't protect you, vote us back in office".

    June 15, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  8. Kimberly

    This is typical of cheney though hes a hate monger and a war monger. He DOES wish America would be attacked but he does not get it that Obama is keeping us ALOT safer than he ever did! We were attacked on HIS watch, and he KNEW it was coming. It was all for his oil and the world knows it. THE ONLY people that deny this are the radical right wingers who hate America.

    June 15, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  9. Hugo

    Oh come on, get real. Does anyone really believe that Dick Cheney would wish his country to be attacked? I see this release as a deception from the factual evidence, in today's politics you have to keep your eyes on both hands and feet of all these players. The same people will believe this that blame 911 on the Bush Administration. Sick of it all!

    June 15, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  10. Realistic

    I doubt that Dick wants America to be attacked again but if it was, he would probably say, "I told you so"....

    June 15, 2009 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Mick

    Of course Cheney is wishing for another terrorist attack, that way he can jump up and down and beat his chest while crowing "I told you so". Then he'll return home and fire up his chicken hawk buddies to bleat on Faux News for another attack on a sovereign nation in order to increase defense spending on Halliburton to make his stock values increase.

    Cheney and other right-wing chicken hawks don't care about America. They care about the Republican Party and defense contractors' profits. If America has to be attacked and hundreds or thousands of people have to die in order for chicken hawk Cheney and his Republican cronies to have a platform to shill from, that's fine and dandy with him as long as they score political points and more money for themselves.

    June 15, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. Diana

    Good god people give it a rest. Stop trying to make news when none is there. And for crying out loud Biden is double speaking every time he opens his mouth. Obama is a reflection of the times. Has to be the touchy feely president. Being President doesn't mean everyone will like you Obama. Puh-leeze....

    June 15, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. Brad

    I've actually had the same thought regarding Cheney. While he has every right to criticize, I think his tone needs to be a bit more constructive.

    June 15, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. Matt

    Typical fear mongering from the leftist liars trying to distract from the fact that they are setting us up for another attack.

    democrats are like a broken record, not wanting to take responsibility for anything, and trying to blame Republicans for everything.

    Are all democrats severely retarded and dishonest??

    June 15, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  15. bryan

    this comment by CIA head, is ludacris.

    June 15, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  16. cramit

    To be honest , if he "smells blood in the water " it's a political weakness = higher risk of attack. The head line don't match the story. It's more like Panetta wants the attack to say see chaney wished this on us.
    I thought we voted for political change ( not change our lives)

    June 15, 2009 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  17. Joe in NJ

    Cheney does not want the U.S. to be attacked. It's very easy for Panetta or anyone else to say that he does though knowing that the U.S. is now more vulnerable. If the U.S. does get attacked it will now be easier to point fingers at Cheney and say, "See! It's all his fault!", rather than put the blame on those who are really responsible.

    June 15, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. nate mene

    doesnt take a rocker scientist to figure that one out

    June 15, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. mtv

    Nothing is More UnAmerican than to keep talking and wishing your an attack on your fellow Americans just to prove your Point...........that shows your true Character on others lives Cheney...........I hope you burn in Hell

    June 15, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Dominic

    This revelation is astonishing, coming from a former elected civil servant. Wishing for American citizens to die in a terrorist attack just to test another elected rivals' mettle? Cheney belongs in prison, and I am sure many Americans will agree. CIA should be looking into this borderline traitor's doings.

    June 15, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. LIP

    VP Cheney is concerned about what we are doing to protect American citizens currently compared to what the Bush administration had done and Panetta should understand that this is constructive criticism and treat it as such. Everyone is entitlted to their opinion, including the former VP and Panetta should simply agree to disagree and not say that Cheney is hoping for failure. No one wants failure, but when one sees the direction we are headed, much like what happened during the Clinton years and all the bombings that followed those weak decisions of Clinton, one has a right to be concerned.

    June 15, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  22. mw

    Chaney is not liked, not respected, not relevant, not in a leadership roll. He is just power hungry and wants to be out front. He seems to need more attention than limpbo needs. He and now his daugter with all the children(go home to them), coulter, sean, laura, and rush really crave the spotlight. The world would be so much better off if these mouths would just shut up. Maybe if they would do as their mothers tried to teach them--'don't say anything if you can't say something nice'. This ilk do not "get" nice. SO SHUT UP.

    June 15, 2009 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  23. Jen B

    Panett's statement shows us how ignorant and stupid our present Washington Adminstration is. Common sense will tell a child what terrorist lover Obama is doing will cause a serious problem.
    Jen B
    WI

    June 15, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  24. dontreadonme

    Did the dems when they called Iraq doomed to failure and a quagmire really hope that the war effort would fail for political gain.

    And did the liberals who posted the daily troop death counts really hope for our troops to die for political gain.

    Does Cheney really want us to get attacked for political gain? No chance.

    Leon Panetta has no experience in Intelligence- he is another civil rights lawyer improperly assigned by the Obama campaign. He needs to stick to his job and stop playing politics.

    June 15, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  25. Expat American

    Not surprising at all. Many ‘Patriot’ Palin voters are out there are hoping the same. They would welcome the loss of more American lives in another potential terror attack so that they could enjoy 2 minutes of satisfaction and the opportunity to say: “I voted for Palin”. These are the people who need to put their limited global perspective into the context of a high school football game or an episode of ‘Bridezillas so that they ignore the fact that they’ve never traveled, worked or lived abroad. This is the mindset of those ‘Country First’ minions who defend Palin's honor so disparaged by David Letterman as if she were Steven Biko.

    June 15, 2009 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
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