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. blindbear

    I guess Darth Cheney could do the same thing that Bush 43 did with 9/11, i.e., encourage or actually allow the attack to happen. ;-)

    I'm not really that paranoid, but the Republicans' craziness and "I'll take my ball and go home" attitude sort of crys out for an irrational response. You know, something that the Republicans would understand, like they "understand" Obama's birth certificate and the fact that he's a Muslim.

    June 15, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  2. William

    Fortunately for the United States, Cheney and his little puppet Dubya are no longer in charge. Our current administration will do everything ppossible to protect us. They won't sit back and allow us to be attacked for political purposes like team Bush did. And, yes, they knew all about the attack in advance and did NOTHING to prevent it.

    June 15, 2009 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  3. Libertarian

    Those "enhanced techniques" made him ABSOLUTELY sure there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What's the death toll there now? How many great soldiers gave their lives for this mis-information?
    How many more gave their lives because Cheney awarded no-bid contracts to his company – Haliburton?

    Sleep well Mr. Cheney....sleep well.

    June 15, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  4. RealityKing

    What a moron. Using this logic.., he must also think that keeping our military strong is asking for an enemy invasion??

    June 15, 2009 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  5. Melissa

    Well of course he is. Cheney is a very dangerous man. He's a person who thinks that fear is the only way to rule. Reminds me of Ahmidenijad and Kim Jong Il.

    June 15, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  6. Gary

    Unfair. You may not like Cheney or agree with his antiterrorism tactics but it is unfair to suggest he wishes that there is an attack. Debate the issues stop attacking the other side. We need vigorous debate on both sides not personal attacks.

    June 15, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  7. Steven

    Of course he is wishing for an attack...all the republicans are.

    June 15, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  8. Elizabeth

    I have thinking the same thing. I really do think Dick Cheney is wishing for America to be attacked again so the republican party can say "WE TOLD YOU SO." The man is evil is writting all over his face. God will punish him one day.

    June 15, 2009 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  9. hjs3

    The former vp is a veritable monk for eight years going form one self serving lie and undisclosed location to another . Today, with his legacy and the GOP being examined in the honest light of day it's sour grapes and nastiness projected at every turn for the new administration.

    Is this a GREAT country or what?

    June 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  10. We Love Sarah

    He IS hoping for another attack on America!

    June 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  11. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    An absolutely disgusting thing for this Obama administration official to say. Cheney served this country well, and this Panetta piece of garbage must apologize at once. Furthermore, Obama must immediately consider finding a new CIA chief. This is serious.

    June 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  12. DJJ

    Thank you for your candor, Mr. Panetta. Cheney is just warming up for his war crimes trial, hoping to deflect as much criticism as he can prior to the proceeding in the "court of public opinion".
    Otherwise known as "spin".
    Cheney could not care less about America or what may happen to her citizens. His only priority is his hollow attempts at CYA. So his rhetoric may inflame and encourage another attack. Does anyone really believe he cares if his mouth does just that?
    No, his only scope is to exploit such an event for his own political agenda and keeping his behind out of a trial, not American lives that would be in jeopardy due to his tongue wagging.

    June 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  13. Too True For You

    So now the CIA is engaging in the type of baseless speculation the right wing is famously obsessed with (ever watch Glen Beck?). Great.

    June 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  14. JuJubee

    Cheney wants an attack, then he can claim that everything he said was right. Let's face it, if someone truly has the desire to hurt America, there is nothing that will stand in there way. At this point we should be more scared of North Korea, than with what the "terrorists" are doing.

    June 15, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  15. T'SAH from Virginia

    YEP – just like the terror attack of 2001 following an unpopular election of BUSH !!! Hmm, I wonder!! Republicans MAY think another terror attack would benefit them but they better be careful for what they wish for!!!

    YES we may be due for another attack, and YES we are no more safe than we were from 911, and YES the REPUBLICANS would try to capitalize on it and blame Obama. But could they BLAME Obama if the next terror attack comes from the far right WHITE SUPREMIST groups?? What about the THREATS being made towards People of Color and to others who do not THINK like them??? Isn't that the same as "TERRORISM"??

    While the Republicans are WISHING for another terror attack – hoping it would benefit THEM – they need to BEWARE that the TERROR is coming from their OWN backyard and they would have NO ONE TO BLAME!!!!!

    June 15, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  16. Tony

    Why is this idiot not in prison awaiting trial for war crimes?

    June 15, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  17. keith krueger

    Your article tells nothing about what Dick Cheney actually "wishes." It reports only Leon Panetta's unfounded speculation about Mr. Cheney's "wishes." I hope you don't mislead your readers.

    June 15, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. Jay

    I totally agree.

    Mr. Cheney wishes we were attacked again so he can certainly make a valid point that President Obama's policies are keeping America less safe.

    June 15, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. andy

    Its the lets blame Bush/Cheney game. Obama could not stop his pants from falling without a teleprompter to tell him and if another terrorist attack happens, you blame cheney? Obama is like a kid in daycare. Its never his fault and blame someone else

    June 15, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  20. Bubba

    I question Cheney's motives; I even throw my shoe at him. As time goes on, it's clearer than ever that the Bush Administration knew about 9-11 far in advance and may have even helped set it up "in order to make their point."

    June 15, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  21. Blue in maine

    I wish Panetta was not right about this. Cheney makes me sick. I will take a couple of gaffes from our present Vice-President any day over the evil of that SOB Cheney

    June 15, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  22. Darrie

    I don't think anybody is/should be getting paid to TORTURE anyone for any reason! I think most Americans agree that TORTURE is WRONG under any circumstances and employing the practice of TORTURE is lowering ourselves to the same depth of inhumanity as the "enemy" that we are supposedly battling!

    June 15, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  23. R-E-S-P-E-C-T

    Many Americans believe Cheney should be behind bars for being the mastermind of deceit, costing thousands of soldiers deaths. It's like Republicans want this to be swept under the rug as if to say, "So what?" America needs to correct itself if we expect to gain any of our respect back.

    June 15, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  24. Jim Barnett

    Mr. Panetta is right on when he states that it would appear that former vice President Cheney would revel in some sort of terriorist attack against the United States. This is apparent to anyone who have witnessed his latest attacks on the Obama administration, it would validate his stance and put the Republican Party in a much better position concerning national defense. The scary part of it is that, in my opinion there are Republican Operatives (including Mr. Cheney and Karl Rove) that are powerful enough and dark minded enough to make it happen, and I don't think they would hesitate to launch an operation that would make the administration look bad. Warped thinking got us into most of this mess and it continues to be a danger under the guise of national security.

    June 15, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  25. James T.

    Okay, well this is just dumb, even if you disagree with Cheney. The head of the CIA should stay out of these political fights. Idiotic, Mr. Panneta.

    June 15, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
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