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. 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 |
  2. paul

    Is Chenny the new tricky dicky? He is trying to rewrite history and confuse the public on the facts. He crafted the Irac war strategy and it was a failure that cost thousands of lives, so he has blood on his hands and for that he should be held accountable. It is easy to claim that were not attacked since 9/11, but, does it mean were safe, well, in todays world, we are safe from domestic terror, criminals or terror itself. We need to toughen up.

    June 15, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  3. Mike Dallas

    If only Cheney was just hoping, he is actually praying for another attack just so his choices might be "validated".

    I still say pointing out America's perceived weaknesses, whether real or imagined makes Cheney guilty of aiding and abetting the enemy and that is treason.

    June 15, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  4. John G

    CNN is still trying to decide if my original comment was liberal enough to post...I'm leaning towards no

    June 15, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  5. Obama

    its a shame when a Republican.. one on the side of Religious followers WISHES for harm to someone else. Just another reason why I changed and Voted Democrat this year!

    June 15, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Jim Martin

    Regardless of whether or not it's true. It's not newsworthy. Panetta should be all the more focused on his job, and the press should not give Cheney the time of day; much less the amount of news coverage they do. Cheney won't go away unless the media let's him, by not covering his rantings. He was irrelevant when in office and even more so now. His era is over, let it fade.

    June 15, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. Saad

    Can we make him VP again? He was more quiet then he is now :):)

    June 15, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  8. ike

    Well if we do get attacked I hope it happens whereever Dick Cheney is. Thank You. Have a nice morning.

    June 15, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  9. donna

    Please, don't show your ignorance. Dick Cheney has dedicated his life to making this a better country. Your time would be better spent finding a replacement for Nancy Peloisi. Mr. Cheney is now a private citizen and can speak his mind, you on the other hand need to think before you speak.

    June 15, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  10. Will in Georgia

    America was not safe before 9-11 and it is not safe after 9-11!

    June 15, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  11. Dean

    Cheney just needs to be locked up He is a danger to he public and a war criminal.

    June 15, 2009 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  12. Brian

    Of course he wants another attack. This would grow his wealth again at the expense of brave service men and women (a pawn in his chess game) while proving that Obama is / was wrong.

    Every NeoCon needs to realize that we were under threat because of their actions. Talking with people, trading with people and growing with people creates a well aligned world stage.

    Not attacking a sovereign nation that had nothing to do with 9/11 lying to the American people while our debt spirals to the highest levels ever....

    Cheyney is anti-American.

    June 15, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  13. Darren

    how is Obama exposing you to danger ?
    Maybe you need a dose of reality and to open your eyes ?

    Do you not think that Obamas measures to bring peace and to change the perception of the US around the world is the only way to go ?

    The US under republican ideals is one if the most despised nations on earth for it's lies, self serving interests and extreme arrogance

    June 15, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  14. Shadysider

    Repub in VA – I disagree completely. It was the Bush Administration's policies that led to more hatred for our country and have left us as a larger target than before. Torture has been shown to bring no better information than normal interrogation techniques as it pertains to those Arab/Muslim detainees, in fact they bring false information that wastes time and resources. Cheney is just trying to justify his administration's tactics because they were illegal and he doesn't want to be tried for them. Unfortunately many non-thinking Republicans have just decided to agree because he is a Republican. It's this type of thinking that pushed myself and many more former Republicans away from the party.

    June 15, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. Chip

    Agreed. Cheney needs to keep his mouth shut. By questioning the safety of the United States, he not only is encouraging terrorism but is endangering our military. As I remember, the only major terrorist attack in the last 20 years happened on his watch.

    June 15, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. Natasha

    And this is news how? That he's been wishing for another terror attack since September 12th, 2001 has been common knowledge to most of us.

    June 15, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. Lynne

    Maybe Cheney's warning is coming from a "voice of experience" because of the Bush/Cheney administration's lack of attention to terrorist attack warnings before 9/11. If they had been more diligent and not so dismissive of the reports, perhaps it could have been stopped.

    June 15, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  18. MillerJ

    Isn't it ironic-Libs complained bitterly that if they didn't fall lockstep with the Bush administrration they were considered unpatriotic by republicans and wanted the terrorists to win. But now, it's ok for them to spew that same vitriole when it's directed at republicans.

    June 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. dan

    We got sucker-punched on 9/11, and in response the Bush administration did everything it could to successfully prevent another attack on our soil. Cheney is doing nothing more than trying to see that their record of success is continued under the Obama administration, by pointing out where he believes they may be undoing some of the protections he believes are essential.

    In other words, he wants exactly the OPPOSITE of what the liberal left is accusing him of....he wants us to remain safe.

    June 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. The black spider

    Of course he is. Any intelligent person on earth that watched cheney on his media tour blaming Omaba for cleaning up his mess will realize that.
    Only the GOP brain dead wachos will buy into his crap because they believe you make the country safe by creating more ennemies, fueling the anti-americanism around the world and pushing away your allies. IT'S INSANELY SAD.

    June 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. Cystem Phailure

    Of course Cheney is hoping for an attack. He doesn't care about the country, he only cares about any results he thinks will make the Democrats look bad and the repugs look good. I'm sure he would also like to see a collapse of the economy and a hundred other crises erupt just so he can dance around and say "I told you so! I told you so!"

    But even so, now that a highly placed official has dared to mutter the truth, it's guaranteed that Cheney will be claiming outrage at such a charge and accusing Panetta of playing politics. Cheney is an embarrassment to all primates.

    June 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  22. Bluini

    Was Panetta one of the many Democrats who "wished" that American troops would be killed in Iraq so that they could "prove" that Bush should turn tail and run?

    June 15, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  23. Robert in Calgary

    I've always considered Cheney's public persona to be a highly manufactured, fragile and phony thing. He's a fifth-rate follower, never a leader. What results when that mask is dropped impresses me as being quite incapable of leading a discussion towards a responsible decision that satisfies a comprehensive awareness.

    June 15, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. Johnny DC

    This ticker article is a PERFECT barometer on just how entrenched Liberals happen to be. Take a good look in the mirror, Liberals.

    There is nothing that can be said about Panetta's comments other than that they are disgusting politically-driven accusations and should be rescinded immediately.

    Yet... wait and read. Watch the anti-Cheney bombs fly. He did nothing wrong for the purpose of this article, yet somehow you will find a way to rally behind Panetta.

    There are plenty of times you see admitted embarrassment from GOP-supporters here, but rarely do you see the same from Liberal sheep.

    Please prove me wrong, sheep.

    June 15, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Samilton

    I agree!

    President Obama and his administration will handle anything that comes our way.

    June 15, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
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