April 5th, 2009
04:10 PM ET
13 years ago

Axelrod hits back at Cheney: Not behaving like a 'statesman'

(CNN) - Top Obama adviser David Axelrod sharply criticized Dick Cheney's recent contention that the president's national security policies have made the country less safe, suggesting the former vice president is not behaving like a "statesman."

[President Bush] has behaved like a statesman," Axelrod told CNN's John King on State of the Union regarding the former president's decision not to criticize the new administration. "And as I've said before, here and elsewhere, I just don't think the memo got passed down to the vice president."

In an interview on State of The Union last month, Cheney said the president’s decision to reverse a series of the Bush policies with respect to the war on terror was putting the country's national security at risk. (Video below)

"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoy, of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," he said then. "I think it's a great success story. It was done legally, it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles…"

But in the interview Sunday, Axelrod suggested the Bush Administration terrorism policies had largely failed.

"I find it supremely ironic, on a day when we were meeting with NATO, to talk about the continued threat from al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where they're still plotting against us eight years - or seven years later," he said. "I think the question for Mr. Cheney is, how could that be? How could this have gone so long? Why are they still in business?"

Cheney's blunt criticisms of Obama have differed markedly with comments for President Bush, who in a recent speech said the new president "deserves my silence."

"I'm not going to spend my time criticizing him. There are plenty of critics in the arena," the former president said during a speech in Canada last month.

Filed under: David Axelrod • Extra • State of the Union
soundoff (301 Responses)
  1. civilguy

    Cheney is just pulling a Carter! When has Carter ever just shut up? Its ok for Carter to spew out BS, but for Cheney Oh my God!!!! Carter is ther real reason for terrorism in the first place! Iranian hostage crisis......... anyone posting here even old enough to remember who was President then?

    It's funny how fast Liberals forget history!

    April 5, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  2. Chris

    These comments are pathetic. Cheney was a great VP. For some reason experience doesn't matter to you people. Obama is the David Dinkins of the White House.

    April 5, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  3. Dave NYC

    The only reason VP Cheney continually refers to the fact no attacks have happened "since 9/11," is to deflect people away from the fact 9/11 HAPPENED ON HIS WATCH!

    April 5, 2009 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. Cache

    If Cheney honestly thought that tortures like waterboarding met with constitutional legality and agreed with our principles, why does no lawful agency in the US use it? Cheney was a national disgrace and now that he has no power whatsoever, he cries for attention like an aging Hollywood starlet.

    Let him cry and gnash his teeth in the dark. America is done with the policies of a political and ethical coward.

    April 5, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  5. Gerry

    To say that Cheney was not a statesman is an understatement. He will go down on history as an advocate of the sham-legalization of torture as a national policy.

    April 5, 2009 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  6. John Kovacs

    Is Cheney still alive? I thought he had a stroke or something.

    April 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  7. Joe

    John King gave the SOFTEST interview I've ever seen with NO follow up questions. I think he was scared of Cheney. Or maybe he loved Cheney's opinion and didn't want to question him further. Toughen up John and ask the tough questions!!!!!

    April 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  8. dotmafia

    Bush, Cheney and the Republicans have done more damage to America and the world in the last eight years than Bin Laden could ever have dreamed of doing himself. Somewhere, he's laughing in his cave, while Bush and Cheney are laughing counting the dollars in their bank accounts, as the American people are suffering more than ever. Pat yourselves on the back Republicans... you've earned yourselves a place in American history books as the worst, most evil and corrupt "administration" to ever dominate Washington. Something to be very proud of.

    April 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  9. beevee

    I am very disappointed in Mr.Chaney's criticism of the administration. I hope he refrains from such comments in the future and behave like a statesman.

    April 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  10. Michael

    When has Cheney ever carried himself like a statesman and why would anyone expect his to start doing so now?

    The Bush/Cheney Dark Ages are over......may they rest in peace and IN SILENCE!

    April 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  11. Logic

    For those deluded few who say "Clinton had intelligence about terrorists planning to attack U.S. buildings with planes...." may I remind you that the entire BIPARTISAN Hart/Rudman report was waiting for the Bush administration which warned exactly that. Both Bush and Condy said they considered that "an historical document."
    In other words, they ignored that information. And 9/11 is a testimony to their ignorance. This lame argument that "He kept us safe after 9/11" is a pathetic excuse for the ignorance that caused 9/11.

    April 5, 2009 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  12. dickster

    Saying we haven't been attacked since 9/11 is the same as taking a "mulligan" in golf.

    April 5, 2009 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  13. AJ

    Doesn't surprise me that Cheney still doesn't know his place!

    Go David Axelrod! Glad someone finally spoke up.

    April 5, 2009 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  14. lynn in NM

    Let's see. North Korea just tested a missile that will hit Alaska or Hawaii. Obama wants to cut down nuclear weapons to make the Russians happy. Billary wants to talk. Yeah, I'd say he is making the US a more dangerous place to live. Of course, Democrats have never been in favor of a strong defense (unless they are getting their picture taken with a military member).

    April 5, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  15. tim

    The republicans have broken the usa. Let's hope and pray that we never have abunch of idoits like that again! If Chenney is so smart about or situation why didn't he run for the Oval Office?

    April 5, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  16. barking dogs

    I see the corporate sociopath using many names is still defending Cheney here.I feel sorry for anyone whos entire life is ruled by fear.

    April 5, 2009 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  17. Scott AZ

    Obama is acting like a statesmen...unfortunately it's more like Nevelle Chamberlain.

    April 5, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  18. Mike Dallas

    "David Axelrod forgets that we have not been attacked since 9/11. In fact, it was the Clinton administration that had intelligence that suggested that an attack on the U.S. was eminent."

    But it was the shrub that allowed the 9/11 attack because his administration both Rice and the dick IGNORED the Clinton briefings 9 months earlier, not to mention the sad day in August when th chump in chief was too busy vacationing to pay attention to daily briefings.

    So, save all the "he kept us safe for 7 years" talking points. The truth is he was in Crawford vacationing and cutting brush in August of 2001 when the daily briefing hit his desk and it was entitled "bin Laden Determined to strike U.S.", if he had been working instead of vacationing MAYBE 3,000 innocent Americans would be alive today!

    You ditto heads can spin it anyway you want to make yourselves feel better for voting for the previous clown-in-chief that did NOTHING to prevent the killing of 3,000 Americans.

    April 5, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  19. coffic

    I've always been amazed that any administration would believe that other countries would stop their proliferation of nuclear weapons. The countries might agree, verbally, but I bet they would continue. Unfortunately, I think that this administration would wind down.

    With N. Korea doing what they do, Iran being the loose canon it is, and China all but owning us, we should be ramping up our national defense, not cutting the defense budget.

    Also, our borders should be fortified, if necessary, to prevent undesirables/terrorists from entering.

    I agree with Cheney's statement. I think that this administration is naive, to put it gently. If we survive, it will be in spite of it.

    Having said this, I also have many issues with the previous administration, too, but I felt safer.

    April 5, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  20. Bill Hawkins

    As a democrat I hate to agree with Mr. Cheney but I am starting to feel less secure with all these new security measures and changes. However, I do agree that Mr. Cheney should not be the one stating this but someone in the higher ranks of our party that will be heard needs to. Now we have even more issues with North Korea and we need to take action immediately. I know we need to show the world that we are changing in how we do things but I think President Obama is doing it for the wrong reason and the wrong time. He is acting more on his campaign promises then what we really need to be focusing on right now. That was the one and only good thing with the former administration when it came to international issues. They were handled and handled right then when they were necessary not just because we talked about doing it. If President Obama wants to change our security we still need to be extremely pro active and not reactive as we have always been! We need to show we are still in control and have power even in tough times. Let's worry about campaign promises when we are a little more secure in our country. Semper Fi and god bless the United States of America.

    April 5, 2009 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  21. Greg

    All the Democrats did during the Bush years was to complain and never offer any viable alternatives to the the problems this country faced. Free to complain but never really do anything. Well, now the shoe is on the other foot, but at least the Republicans ARE offering alternative budgets and economic stimulus packages.

    Mr. Obama has criticized Mr. Bush, but I think people will wish for Bush to return within a year.

    April 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  22. Joe

    I feel ashamed that Cheney represented my country for 8 years because he is such an arrogant and shameless person. Bush prevented progress and Cheney fueled hate.

    April 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  23. Al

    Dick Cheney was and remains an embarrassment to the United States abroad and more importantly to us. His conduct in the administration was unprecidented in it's arrogance, willingness to ignore the constitution and failure to protect the United States against an attack by terrorists.
    Anyone who uses the phrase "since 9/11" has blinders on.
    What about 9/11? That does not count?
    Was there no precident of an attack by Islamic extremists leading up to 9/11? Was there no prvious attack at the World Trade Center?
    Who was protecting the U.S. then?
    Where there no warnings prior to 9/11. Was there no intellegence to show that terrorists were planning an attack?
    George Bush and Dick Cheney were negligent, arrogant and the worst administration we have ever had in the United States.

    April 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  24. FoCo

    Cheney never acted like a statesman so I'm not sure why anyone is surprised he is still acting like a dog.

    And, I am so proud of Barack Obama and so happy and proud that he is my president.

    April 5, 2009 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  25. Greg

    During President Bush's administration we were not hit by a terrorist attack. That statistic speakes for itself. Time will tell if the Obama administration is up to the task. I think they are just alot of talk and no substance. It is also obvious that Obama is ashamed to be an American as proven by his shameless pandering to the EU. He should just renounce his US citenzship, move to France, and run for office there. Obama and the democrats are the worse thing to happen to the US in decades!!!!!!!! I weep for our nation's future.

    April 5, 2009 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
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