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. 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 |
  2. NotNowMooky

    I think NOTHING would make Cheney happier than an attack on America. Like other members of the right wing who wish for America to fail, they place their own agenda far above the good of our nation.

    Maybe this explains why Cheney didn't capture Bin Laden?

    June 15, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. lee wilson

    u would think cheney would keep a low profile, and stop shooting off at the mouth

    June 15, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  4. Mike

    Cheney is exposing us to danger. He is a traitor. He's telling terrorists that American is vulnerable and now would be a good time to attack. The Republicans lost the election. Instead of helping the new President, the Republicans have done their best to make sure America does not succeed under Obama. I'm disgusted with the immature whining and sour grapes from the Republicans since they lost the election. Thank God the Republicans are no longer in charge before they completely destroyed America!

    June 15, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  5. Ida Camps

    Mr. Cheney comments are unappropriated, it is impossible to forecast a terrorist action as it was impossible for Hussein to prove not to have WMD.

    For US, the best way to eliminate terrorism is to be an honest broker to solve the Palestine/ Israel conflict and stop aiding Israel Government which is equivalent to subsidizing new settlements in Arab land arousing muslin rage.

    June 15, 2009 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  6. Patrick

    Panetta is using the same flawed logic that Republicans used against Democrats in opposing the Iraq war. Opposition to partisan policy is totally different than wanting "America attacked again" or "Wanting America to lose the Iraq war" Panetta is a liberal hack leftover from the Clinton days who still hates Bush/Cheney and will say anything to make them look bad.

    June 15, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  7. AndyB

    Kinda like America was attacked while Bush/Cheney were at the helm? Even after being warned no less and they chose to ignore the warnings. Idiots!

    June 15, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  8. Neighbor

    We all know that when you have a feud with a neighbor the best thing to do is to escalate the feud, trying to find a peaceful solution just shows that you're weak. I believe that a grade school bullying foreign policy is the best. As Americans, we have been granted supreme reign over the world, we aren't simply citizens of earth, we own earth – and no other nation is equal to us. It's our way or the highway.

    Likewise, as Americans we know that things like balanced budgets and staying within your means are just excuses to not stimulate the economy. If you're not spending your money then you might as well be communists. Bush spent like mad, and Obama spends like mad, so we know it's only American to spend like mad. I've maxed out all my credit cards in the name of freedom and prosperity.

    June 15, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  9. confused

    Remember republicans the CIA doesn't lie. Pelosi said they did but you defended them and said they do not. Well I will assume that the director is telling the truth.

    June 15, 2009 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. MADinAZ

    "Dave" asked:

    "Why does this even surprise me anymore? CNN reporting on some idiots point of view, and not facts…Regardless of whether Cheney thinks this or not, unless he says it, why report it?"

    If what a former Vice President says is worth reporting, then the reaction of the Director of the CIA is certainly relevant.

    Apparently anything that contradicts your worldview is "propaganda".

    June 15, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Expat American

    Repub in VA June 15th, 2009 11:02 am ET
    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.
    You must be from Palin's "Real America".....

    June 15, 2009 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  12. Brian0901

    Post This CNN!

    Cheney is an EVIL man who thrives on death and destruction. When 9/11 happened I am surprised he was able to keep the smile off his face.

    June 15, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  13. Dave

    Donna, please rethink your thoughts. Chaney spent his life making money. He avoided the draft and found protecting the country to be nowhere on his list. He is the defination of a chicken hawk. Send others to die while he makes his fortune on their blood.

    June 15, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  14. angrysob in VA

    Panetta's opinion is worthless since he was the Chief of Staff to Clinton in the last term. Gee – When did the terrorist's enter the US and take pilot lessons prior to 9/11/2001. The Clinton crowd was asleep at the wheel again – after the first WTC bombing during the first Clinton term and not to mention after the OK bombing during the first Clinton administration. I fully believe we will be attacked again due to this wishy washy administration's policy. I hope I'm wrong.

    June 15, 2009 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  15. Austin

    That would be almost a comical site to see Dick Cheney get targeted by a terrorist group. Mr. I'm gonna blur out my house on Google earth. What a hypocritical son of a you know what. Its time for Cheney to leave our nest and go somewhere out of the picture. Go back to Wyoming... oh wait nobody likes you there either.

    June 15, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  16. George

    Chenny is a very sick man. His arrogance and ignorance is much more important than the well being of America. He is a spoiled rotton CEO that made a living pilfering people. His compassion is zero.
    May he soon go in seclusion and keep his ugly mouth shut. He is a disgrace to our country!!

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

    Panetta is saying what many thought anyway , he is stated a far gone conclusion , and it seems many of the Gop feel the same way ....just to say I told you so ....how sad to secretly wish for a loss of life just to say see I was right ! As the old addage goes , sorta like cutting your nose off the spite your face!
    Many will say they do not feel that way , but deep down they really do, actions speak louder than words and the GOP has become so hate filled and mean about Obama and the Dems win that they would welcome an attack! I live in a state where I am in the minority politically, and hear many ugly things being said by the far right and it breaks my heart that I know people who hate that much!

    June 15, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  18. Aten Imago

    I don't doubt Dick Cheney (and by extension) Former President, G.W. Bush, "smell (potential) blood" in an enlightened Obama retreat from ill advised terror tactics of the Bush administration.But that smell of Sanguine Elixir is likely to be emanating from themselves, as the American people aren't likely to buy into these fear mongering maneuvers any longer.Quite the contrary, our attention is now pointedly away from the direction of the boys that cried "Wolf!"
    however, if an attack does occur on the Obama watch, Cheny and Co. should immediately appear on the 'No Fly' list and their assets frozen solid.
    A taste of their own medicine. Sanguine enough?

    June 15, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  19. Libertarian

    As I read some of these posts, I'm becoming more concerned about domestic terrorists. The radical right here is sooo convinced that Bush/Cheney were correct that I fear they will make the "we will be attacked" a self-fulfilling prophecy. It's become evident lately with the flare ups of support for supremacy groups – and even the recent attack from them. These people are stirring themselves into tizzy over President Obama and everything he does. I would call the recent shootings a bell weather of what is to come.

    June 15, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  20. Pam

    Dick Cheney.."See I told you so". Another hit on the US would get the heat off him..at least he hopes it would! God forbid that it happens again but if it does, Cheney is still a very destructive voice for our country.

    June 15, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  21. Jeff Fyke

    Cheney's just worried about our safety. So he's broadcasting to the rest of the world, he thinks we're ripe for an attack.

    What a scumbag!

    He's for gay marriage, but waited to tell everyone after he's out of office.

    June 15, 2009 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  22. Mike

    Since 9/11 happened on HIS watch, I'd say he should shut-up and remember this is a democracy and he was voted the heck out of office. His real backers are big corporate doners like oil and gas, etc. So, it's no real surprise to see the Big-Mouth, GOP, Right Wing Nut-job spouting off with fear-mongering about security when it's REALLY about corporate dominance. Cheney is anti-American: pure and simple.

    June 15, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  23. Truth Hurts

    I agree with him. I think the conservatives want Obama to fail in everything including nationally security!! Conservatives are so desparate and still bitter about the election, they would wish death, if they could!!

    June 15, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  24. Jerry

    Cheney needs to retire from public life. As an American he is free to voice his opinion. As a former VP he needs to be appropriate in how he voices that opinion. Something he has not been to date. Panetta is right. He is wishing and a hoping and praying for the worst to happen so he can stand a say see if told you so. Where do we send Haliburton?

    June 15, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  25. Brookfield Bill

    Despite being one who has always loathed Mr. Cheney's politics and arrogance, I actually disagree with Mr. Panetta. Who, either domestically or internationally, still gives Cheney any credence in light of his past disastrous certainties such as this:

    Simply stated, Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use against our friends, against our allies and against us.”

    Dick Cheney address at the Veterans of Foreign Wars National Convention – August 26, 2002

    June 15, 2009 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
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