June 15th, 2009
02:39 PM ET
5 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. MK, Miramar

    Dick Cheney's comments should be ignored. We cannot live in the fear of being attacked. The current administration must work to remove that fear.

    June 15, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. Sensible

    Get a life Cheney and make yourself a worthy citizen worth emulating. Stop the hate. Obama is blessed. Pray to be blessed yourself. Your negative attacks on him will get you no where but to the booth camp of destruction.

    June 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  3. Chris ~ Albany, NY

    I sincerely hope that the former VP isn't "wishing" that there's another terrorist attack, but in a sick sorta way I believe he is. I think that he thinks that he needs it to happen to say I told ya so, so he can go round the rest of his days thinking that he's was justified in whatever he really did. It's so sad.

    June 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. New Yorker

    So Panetta is a mind reader? No, Panetta, you are wrong. Cheney does not wish this country would be attacked again to prove his point. The fact that Obama wants to turn loose the prisoners at Guantanamo, releasing them to muslim countries, along with his sympathy for Hamas and other terrorist supporting nations is sure proof that his policies are endangering the U.S. Cheney is correct and I'm glad he speaks the truth regardless of what Panetta thinks. The fact tat Panetta made such a statement shows how immature and ridiculous he is. And this guy is director of the CIA? Lord help us.

    June 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  5. 21% of Americans are TRAITORS for wanting America to FAIL and 79% of Americans to SUFFER!

    Cheney is hoping that there will be another attack just as all the neo-cons in the republican party.

    That way the republican agenda for President Obama and "America to fail" would be achieved.

    The "christian" Taliban would be dancing in the streets of America.

    June 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  6. Kenyan Wonder Kid

    "New Era" is absolutely correct. We need to put Panetta in jail immediately.,

    June 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  7. Where is the article?

    "Cheney Guilty for War Crimes" is the article on The Ticker I'm still looking for.

    June 15, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. Watching from NC

    Unfortunately, until the media finally begin to ignore Cheney and stop providing him a platform for spewing this garbage, the Dark Lord will continue his attempts to undermine anything which is not under his control. I don't expect the right-wing mouthpieces at Fox News to go along with that, so I can only hope the more mainstream media will allow Cheney to fade away into the obscurity he deserves.

    June 15, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  9. Randolph Carter

    Of course he is. Haliburton's profits are down. Have a nice day!

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

    It's about time someone called him out. Why the GOP hasn't shut him up themselves is beyond me. He has done more harm to the republican party in recent years than any other...

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

    The man is a criminal!!! Why isn't he under investigation.

    June 15, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  12. Ted Tartaglia

    Cheney is an old fool who is trying to rewrite history to make himself look better. He makes assertions but offers no proof to back them up. As long as Republicans allow this idiot to be one of the party spokesmen, they will continue to become a smaller party; perhaps, to the point of extinction.

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

    Panetta is right. Cheney's views show how many Republicans have decided party over country. It's completely shameful and it disappoints me to no end. When is the Republican Party going to wake up and realize that their 'end of the world' type mind-set is just juvenile and removes the role of thinking from problem-solving?

    June 15, 2009 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  14. Dave from Jacksonville

    Of course "Darth" Cheney, and most Republicans, want another attack. How else can they have a remote chance of regaining some power in the government. This is not only unethical, it is Un-American. How can the party that prides itself on its patriotism even suggest another attack.
    ...and to cappicola, it is blatently obvious this IS what Cheney wants. Everybody, but you perhaps, can see this!!!!

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

    The entire Neo-Con December Criminal treason ring is praying for a terrorist attack. Its the only hope they have of staying out of of prison or the hangman's noose.

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

    I wish the media, past politicians and current ones, would shut-up! When you discuss our country's weaknesses, methods, locations of agents, location of ships and troops, you place innocent people in harm's way! Yeah, lets get a young man or woman killed so you all can have your moment of fame! Bunch of idiots! Lets film another American body being dragged thru the streets so a Mother at home can see her dead son be violated before she even knows he was killed. If you ask me, you all are the persons who should be charged with treason and thrown out of this country on you butts! You useless pieces of garbage!

    June 15, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  17. Island girl

    VA Repub: What evidence do you have? I put you in the same league as Cheney who subconsciously would love to say "Ah, ha!!!" Obama has been on a whirlwind tour trying to muster up peace and already there have been some subtle signs of progress. Get on your knees and pray for your country and the rest of the world – that's better than negativity and hatred!

    June 15, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  18. Jeff

    Why is Cheney still free and running his mouth?

    June 15, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  19. republican in ny

    Democrats release terrorists in Bermuda .This is what this distraction
    is all about.

    June 15, 2009 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  20. James

    @cappicola:

    I don't think Panetta's comments were any more off base than the ex-vice president's. For an ex-vice president to be monday morning Quarterbacking the current president's decisions on national security, that is just unheard of. I might add, not a good reflection of himself either. Cheney cares for nothing but his own reputation, which has been lost already to anyone not "in the tank" for Cheney.. (see the phrase CAN be used both ways, can't it?)

    June 15, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  21. Nick

    Wouldn't be the first time he wanted an attack. I still say he knew the first one was coming and let it happen so he could have his excuse to start the war in Iraq.

    June 15, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  22. Flo

    Cheney and others like him, e.g., Limbaugh, Rove, are truly the 'ugly Americans.' They think they are standing up for America when actually they are working to undermine it. Ignorance knows no limits.

    June 15, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  23. Al

    This is one of the more insulting statements I've read in a long time. This is slander, and I hope Dick Cheney sues over these comments.

    I think we all can agree Mr. Cheney is not the pope, but I am sure he is not praying for the deaths of innocent civilians. I might not agree with everything (anything) Mr. Cheney has to say, but to even imply this shows how ignorant and disrespectful people can be.

    June 15, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  24. Sidney Jacobs

    Panetta should step aside for making such an irresponsible and unfounded comment.
    What are we all becoming?

    June 15, 2009 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  25. Frank

    Panetta's comments are amazing. We are rushing to "disconect the dots" and attacking Republicans instead of worring about the Moslem terrorist.

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