Cheney defends NSA, calls Obama's credibility 'nonexistent'
June 16th, 2013
03:12 PM ET
10 years ago

Cheney defends NSA, calls Obama's credibility 'nonexistent'

(CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney vehemently defended the National Security Agency surveillance programs that started under President George W. Bush but argued the current administration has lost credibility.

"Part of the problem is the administration's credibility - because of Benghazi and the IRS scandal - is less effective. Nonexistent, if you will, when you get over to the NSA program, which ought to be defended," he told CNN.

Asked if he agreed with Obama on the need to carry out the surveillance programs, Cheney said he's not looking "to defend President Obama" but maintained the operation that was set up in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is a "very good program."

"I think it's run by first-rate professionals. I think it's important to separate out that program from the scandals that they've got at IRS and Benghazi and so forth," he said. "It's done great work, it has saved lives - stopped attacks against the United States - and it's vital to continue."

Obama's administration has forcefully defended the surveillance programs against some strong public backlash ever since the existence of the programs was leaked earlier this month. The NSA has played defense on its operations, which include collecting phone records and information from major Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Among those upset about the program were many Democrats, who had concerns about privacy.

"They probably were angry about it when we were running it too," Cheney said. "But it's a good, solid program, and it needs to be treated as such."

Earlier on "Fox News Sunday," Cheney said he believed the programs could have prevented 9/11 if they had been in place before the attack.

Referring to lawmakers who disagree with the program, the former vice president argued that two thirds of the representatives in Congress today weren't in office on 9/11.

"The reason we got into it was because we've been attacked," he said. "There's going to be another attack, and they'll have deadlier weapons than ever before. We've got to consider the possibility of a nuclear device or biological agent. We made the decision based on 9/11 that we no longer had a law enforcement problem - we are at war."

"And that puts you in the category of using your military assets, your intelligence assets and so forth to protect the country against another attack," he continued.

Cheney also described Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who leaked the information, as a "traitor."

"I think it's one of the worst occasions in my memory of somebody with access to classified information doing enormous damage to the national security interests of the U.S.," he said.

Asked if he thought Snowden was spying for China, Cheney said he was "deeply suspicious."

"It's not a place you would ordinarily want to go if you're interested in freedom, liberty and so forth, so it raises questions whether or not he had that kind of connection before he did that," he said.

Filed under: Dick Cheney • NSA • President Obama
soundoff (359 Responses)
  1. Anonymous

    @david – Obama always does the opposite of what the majority wants. We dont want socialist health care, 13 million criminals legalized, more gun laws, gay marriage, etc.. I never seen a prez like him.
    When someone wins the Presidency by the MAJORITY of voters, that same MAJORITY has voiced their approval of that person's agenda so what you say here is totally off-base!! Just like the Repubs/Tea Partiers in the House you can't grasp that your side lost – TWICE!!

    June 17, 2013 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  2. Ryan

    Cheney saying someone else has no credibility is pretty damn funny. Almost as funny as when he shot his buddy in the face. As far as he's concerned big government is apparently ok when they are abusing legal power to keep we the people under surveillance. Those guys are principled professionals, but everyone else who works for the government is part of the machine that needs to be dismantled.

    June 17, 2013 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. Puhleeze

    Um, "Obama" isn't enacing gay marriage laws, health care reform, and sensible gun restrictions – STATES are, and they are doing so because the MAJORITY of their voters approved them. For Pete's sake, you nutjobs need to stop blaming Obama for everything and look to your state and local leaders – after all, YOU keep screaming for more states' rights. Be careful what you wish for, right? It's coming back to bite you in the a$$.

    June 17, 2013 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  4. Joe Seattle

    So many people here seem to believe that having majority support is somehow sanctifying. The problem is the world is built by a small visionary minority. Give mediocrity absolute power and we'll have nothing but free lunch until there is no food left.

    What you as the average person (and by definition that's probably you) need to face is that there are people out there who really do have the ability to understand the world far better than you. If you have average intellgence, in a society such as the U.S. where you live in coddled ignorance, your vote amounts to nothing more than the product of manipulation by others, and not based on rational arguments. You vote the way you select a favorite sports team. And then you get Obama, and all that comes with him.

    June 17, 2013 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  5. T. Lee

    If anybody knows about "no credibility" it would be Dick Cheney!

    June 17, 2013 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  6. richwood

    Cheney says Obama's credibility is non-existent??? This from a guy who committed treason? Murdered over 4,000 Americans in the phoney war in Iraq? Created a massive deficit? Put millions out of work and out of their homes? What a joke he is.

    June 18, 2013 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  7. David Mann

    Cheney is the most evil man ever to reside in the White House. He's a war criminal and should be in prison. I don't know enough about Snowden to form an opinion, but for Cheney to be talking about ANYBODY'S patriotism is the height of hypocrisy.

    June 18, 2013 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  8. Snickerdoodle

    Dick Cheney. Wasn't he the guy who told us we needed to send thousands of young men to die in Iraq in order to protect ourselves from Saddam Hussein's nukes?

    Or was he the one who wanted to ignore the law and bypass the FISA court altogether?

    Such an authority on credibility!

    June 18, 2013 02:06 am at 2:06 am |
  9. kamarasune

    Oh look the Tinman speaks....

    June 18, 2013 07:31 am at 7:31 am |
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