Cheney defends NSA, calls Obama's credibility 'nonexistent'
June 16th, 2013
03:12 PM ET
7 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. Raven

    And Cheney's credibility is what?

    June 17, 2013 12:15 am at 12:15 am |
  2. ronjayaz

    I dont know what all the fuss is about. One has only to read the Front Page of the NYTimes, Apr 29, 1976 to see that this has been going on forever. I'm reminded of "First they came for the communists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a communist... " Americans refuse to review history.

    June 17, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  3. J.V.Hodgson

    Finally Republicans find themselves between a rock and a hard place and the hypocrite Cheney despite lauding the program refuses to YES simply (Re Obama and the NSA program) but says " I am not looking to defend Obama" despite later calling Snowden a " traitor" an defending the programs every which way he can!! He's a two faced B.m.;
    Benghazi and The IRS matters pall into insignificance compared with Snowden matter, the IRS issue is like saying we cannot target corporates who take advantage of corporate tax loopholes in laws.
    Its clear ISSA et al have only one objective in mind ( it ain't fixing the problems in either Benghazi or IRS cases) it's trying to link it to the Whitehouse first and then Obama.
    Also for Issa its time to shout him down in the media with "You lie!!"
    He is both a hypocrite and bender of the truth for his own personal purposes. But sadly he is also damaging the Republican party!

    June 17, 2013 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  4. winchester74

    Dick Cheney will never die. Hell doesn't want him.

    June 17, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  5. Kris

    Cheney said "credible". Now that's a hoot.

    June 17, 2013 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  6. Kris

    Now Dick...if the program had been in place prior to 9/11, you still would have blamed Obama.

    June 17, 2013 12:38 am at 12:38 am |
  7. swipedcard

    Does Dick Cheney realize that by defending the NSA he immediately turns millions of Americans against it? The man really needs a strategic advisor.

    June 17, 2013 12:42 am at 12:42 am |
  8. Buh Bye

    When it comes to Dick Cheney the real heroes are his parents. How they knew decades and decades and decades ago that the perfect name for their son was DICK is highly commendable. The only way the guy can say less is to talk more.......

    June 17, 2013 12:55 am at 12:55 am |
  9. Inkin

    What a nasty piece of work this chicken hawk is. Why give him any platform or credibility.? He is a perfect example of everything wrong with the GOP. .....hypocrisy, greed, lack of empathy, and absolutely no character.

    June 17, 2013 01:00 am at 1:00 am |
  10. Evergreen

    Wasn't Cheney who said the Iraq war would not cost tax payers because Iraqi oil would pay for the war?

    June 17, 2013 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  11. art

    No one is looking to Cheney for answers. The fact that he comes out defending the program is due in part to his need for credibility. He is in effect a NAZI. The NSA program has nothing at all to do with 911 but everything to do with power and control. They should turn the program on him, the guy and his cabal use Government to get mega rich. Times up Cheney!!!!

    June 17, 2013 01:02 am at 1:02 am |
  12. bufkus

    Cheney is utter garbage, a traitor, and a war criminal.

    June 17, 2013 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  13. bufkus

    Cheney is a traitor and a war criminal.

    June 17, 2013 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  14. California

    Randy, San Francisco

    Pretty funny statement coming from a war criminal who lied to the American people about WMDs in Iraq.
    Please provide proof of that. Hint, SNL isn't proof.

    June 17, 2013 01:08 am at 1:08 am |
  15. myway

    Cheney couldn't possibly acknowledge Obama's achievemnt as a president. If he did he'd have to condemn his former boss, Goerge W.

    June 17, 2013 01:11 am at 1:11 am |
  16. California

    This should prove to democrats that this violates the 4th amendment.

    June 17, 2013 01:12 am at 1:12 am |
  17. myway

    Btw, is Cheney trying to look dapper by wearing a hat?

    June 17, 2013 01:13 am at 1:13 am |
  18. SAW

    There are folks that are credible, and accordding to Cheney, Obama's credibility is nonexistent. I guess that put's Cheney in the anti-credible universe. Does that mean that if a credible person mets Dick Cheney they would cancel each other out? In such a system is there a net loss of morality in such a meeting of the credible and the anti-credible people. Maybe the collisions between credible and anti-credible persons is what creates politicians.

    June 17, 2013 01:22 am at 1:22 am |
  19. Bill S.

    Forget "Saddam has WMD," already? He is a lying murdering greedy creep.

    June 17, 2013 01:46 am at 1:46 am |
  20. Cheeky

    War criminals don't have credibility.

    June 17, 2013 01:47 am at 1:47 am |
  21. Xolani Mahlangeni

    Look the PRISM thing is one of those "it's a dirty job but someone's got to do it" kinda thing.
    Terrorism is high tech nowadays and there is no running away from that.

    June 17, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  22. Rich

    Dick Cheney is a great man. He's an American hero. It's clear that Obama has kept most of the policies dick cheney started. He did a damn good job.

    June 17, 2013 02:00 am at 2:00 am |
  23. chuck

    You guys ever sit back and read what you write? No wonder this country is split

    June 17, 2013 02:21 am at 2:21 am |
  24. Epidi

    I see the snake came out from under the rock to sun himself on it again. Rattle rattle rattle

    June 17, 2013 02:40 am at 2:40 am |
  25. Richard Kerr

    Dick Cheney defends the NSA? Is that what's meant by guilt by association?

    June 17, 2013 02:57 am at 2:57 am |
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