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. Repub in VA

    Whether Cheney wishes it or not, its going to happen. Obama is exposing us to danger. He needs to stop taking his foreign policy orders from the NY Times.

    June 15, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. Fred Palafox

    After I saw Cheney take sides with Rush Limbaugh over Colin Powell it became obvious that he has lost a clear perspective of reality. I would hope that Cheney does not wish for a terrorist attack on the U.S. but the more he talks the more I wonder.

    June 15, 2009 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Eric

    Well duh. It took the CIA this long to figure that out?? Does anyone really believe we aren't ever going to see another terrorist attack on our soil? What does it say about the party if they are basing their hopes on a horrible event so that they can do a big I-told-you-so and claim they were right all along.

    June 15, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  4. dennisk

    Cheney is an evil man, and I have no doubt that he secretly hopes America is attacked under the new Administration so he can say, "I told you so..."

    June 15, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  5. Pat, CA

    That's a pretty outrageous statement for a CIA director to make! Very immature and unprofessional, Mr. Panetta!

    June 15, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  6. TCB

    Cheney needs to just go find something to do, you are not in charge anymore "go away" you need a hobby.

    June 15, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  7. New Era

    Put this man in jail.

    June 15, 2009 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  8. Candy Wilson

    I have to agree.. The whole Fox Nation.com seems to generate an underlying tone to this I just view them as distructive to the country with the tone of failure and the constant critism of Everything Pres. Obama tries and/or does.. Even with the powerful work for the release of the ship captain, there was very little credit there..

    June 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  9. the southern progressive

    if its even slightly true.. it would be very sad, and that goes for anyone, not just the former vice president.

    if you feel this way, let everyone know, so that that the terrorists will know who you are. ;)

    June 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  10. Jim

    of course he's wishing for another attack. Cheney would love to see amercians dead so he can say "I told you so".

    June 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  11. Babs

    It's finally been said. Hats off to Mr. Panetta.

    June 15, 2009 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  12. Justin

    Of course he wants an attack on the U. S., not only would it vindicate his draconian methods, it would also give the GOP a rallying point to win elections.

    June 15, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  13. mypitts2

    Repub: When you say "its going to happen" you are saying nothing original. People have been saying another attack is inevitable long before Obama took office. If a group, twisted by hate, is determined to attack, it will eventually get through. Obama's policies, aimed at turning down the hate, is the only hope in the end.

    June 15, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  14. Natasha

    When are we going to lock Dick Cheney up for War Crimes? That is the question.

    June 15, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  15. cappicola

    I'm surprised at Panetta's suggestion that former VP Cheney would somehow like to see more Americans hurt or killed, more carnage, more destruction, etc. as in to somehow prove a point. This type of cheapshot goes way beyond partisan politics. It's downright disgusting. Shame on the CIA Director for floating that idea out there. He should probably learn – very quickly I might add – to keep his mouth shut and stay focused on his job.

    June 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  16. Sharon Kitchen

    Yes....this would sound like cheney.......he wants everything his way......
    After all when asked about the troups dying in Iraq...he said,"so what?"

    He only cares about himself.

    June 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  17. lynn in NM

    There's a big difference between "wishing" and waiting for the inevitable.

    June 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  18. Clay

    Cheney used the last terror attack to his full unholy advantage. He used it to justify invading Iraq, suspend civil liberties and institutionalize torture. Who knows what else he has up his sleeve. This man bears watching. Preferably on a jail cell monitor.

    June 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  19. Patrick - Indianapolis

    Someone needs to terrorize Cheney and Rush. They are the ones wishing for terror. Maybe its time to see what its like to be terrified. Put them on the front lines.

    June 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  20. Shari, NY

    It's like putting a sign on the window of your home saying in bold print "ON VACATION". He is either paranoid, covetous or using this a a ploy to cover his tracks. This does nothing to move the country forward.

    June 15, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  21. Pat in IL

    Panetta has that right.....I've thought that from the beginning of Cheney's dangerous rants. He's basically asking for it.

    June 15, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  22. southerncousin

    David Letterman is still on the air, Don Imus is not. Unemployment is at 9.4%, dear leader said if we gave the libs a trillion dollars it wouldn't go above 8%. NKorea is testing nukes, the Iranians still hate us and are even more threatening in spite of the dear leaders apology tour. Mexico still is in the throes of a drug war in spite of the SOSUS apologies and of course more money. Does it seem that in spite of dear leaders election the country is deteriorating faster and faster? And now, we have the CIA director of course attacking the previous VP, while the country goes down. It really is the second Carter administration.

    June 15, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  23. Johnny DC

    So now a top-ranking, albeit politically appointed official, has decided that any voiced opposition to very important security policy is the same thing as wishing death upon innocent Americans?

    Panetta has no business "supposing" what he believes Cheney is thinking, especially when that supposition turns out to be politically motivated slander.

    This is a disgusting accusation to make, and I'm sure Cheney's camp will come back with a similarly toned response.

    June 15, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. bradvado in boston

    it's high time we hold our past leaders accountable and try them before a group of their piers.

    War Crimes, Crimes against the Geneva Convention, Crimes against out Constitution and rule of law, etc.

    Once he and W are in prision, then they can comfortably work on their memory-books....without all the "torture" of having to appear on Faux News.

    June 15, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  25. brs

    Repub in VA:
    "Whether Cheney wishes it or not, its going to happen. Obama is exposing us to danger. He needs to stop taking his foreign policy orders from the NY Times."

    Repub, it would be nice if you cited some specific facts to argue your case. And his "apology tour" "bowing to saudi kings" etc. doesn't cut it. It's obvious you don't have the facts that the president has...and while that's the case I'll trust him over you.

    June 15, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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