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. BillyD1953

    Cheney? Who cares what he thinks about anything. This piece of human garbage belongs in prison. Turn him over to The Hague and get it over with.

    June 16, 2013 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  2. Ray

    WW3 is coming soon.

    June 16, 2013 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  3. Peter

    Cheney "defends" the program but can't seem to defend Obama for continuing it?


    Political partisanship at its most laughable.

    June 16, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  4. karlinnh

    Here's the real problem: CNN regurgitates everything Darth Cheney says without challenging a word when there is plenty to confront him around what he says here. Journalism is in pathetic straits. Sad.

    June 16, 2013 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  5. ARTraveler

    Why would anyone in their right mind even think that a Tea Party group could meet any definition as a "social welfare" organuization when it was formed to destroy all the social welfare that the country has? I think the IRS should have rejected every application as soon as they saw the name and make them go to court to explain what their "social welfare" program was and is, other than cookies for their meetings.

    Bengazi-how about we go back to 2000 and examine all of the embassy and consulate attacks or are the 13 attacks and 58 deaths while Cheney was pseudo-president off-limits because he is a Republican? If we want to look at "embassy security", then the House witch hunt chief witch, Rep Issa, needs to look at the big picrture. They we look at arson in areas where Issa is involved.

    June 16, 2013 07:32 pm at 7:32 pm |
  6. Bill Davis

    The Purveyor of WMD's has the audacity to question this President's credibility. Why isn't Cheney in jail.? i pray Holder presses charges against him. Maybe that's why the GOP wants Holder gone...

    June 16, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  7. I. M. Appaled

    IRS? Issa tried to hide the transcripts that prove there is no scandal. Cummings said if you don't by the end of the week I will, and did. Issa then cried that Cummings wasn't fair because the interviews clearly explain why they had to give extra scrutiny to the Tea Party applications in the normal course of business in order to properly determine they deserve the tax exempt status they sought and were ultimately granted. Benghazi? Republicans still refuse to ask the right questions:
    1. What exactly was the CIA doing in Benghazi
    2. What compelled Amb Stevens to travel 13 hours in each direction by car from the safety of the Tripoli embassy.
    Enough focusing on talking points and faux outrage that rescue forces weren't available because they were either too far or were already tasked with different operations.

    June 16, 2013 07:33 pm at 7:33 pm |
  8. loosun

    Cheney was never a popular politician. However, with regards to US security, it can't be argued that we are fighting a war with terrorists who are out to cause US citizens harm. He also brings up an important point, it is very suspicious for Snowden to run to China. A country that is well known for human rights abuses. The fact that the NSA leaks came out right after news about China's hacking of US systems (private, public) makes this leak very SUSPICIOUS.

    June 16, 2013 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  9. Carl Grant

    Who cares what Chaney thinks about anything. He gave Americans gas and stunk up the nation for 8 years. This is the person who cooked the books to trick other politicians and the population into wanting the 2 Republican wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – and he wants to talk CREDIBILITY! Truly he is an evil stupid person.

    June 16, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  10. grandpa

    If you can't attack the message, than attack the messenger.

    June 16, 2013 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  11. johnsmith

    A grown man talks. Children squabble.

    June 16, 2013 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  12. sandcanyongal

    Cheney and Bush are responsible for using our American boys and girls as human shields to invade Iraq, lie about "weapons of mass destruction" as a threat to national security and whereby creating the Patriot Act. At least 32 long term oil contracts were handed out to countries that got in on killing Iraqi citizens. I'm not a fan of Obama but Cheney and Bush deserve to be on death row.

    June 16, 2013 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. rbwphd

    Fine words from a member of the axis of evil (Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush). The man should be indicted for war crimes.

    June 16, 2013 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  14. Tom

    Obama and Cheney on the same side of the NSA program. Another validation that Obama hasn't really don't much new but continues to rely on programs and policies established in the previous administration.

    June 16, 2013 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  15. Larry L

    Cheney is the most dishonest, unethical and evil leader in America's history. He absolutely should be in prison.

    June 16, 2013 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  16. John

    Another nonsense from the second worst violator of our civil liberty! can guess who is first...
    Just no shame for the deep grief they caused our great nation.

    June 16, 2013 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  17. harrisonhits2

    Dick Cheney is the most despicable piece of human filth in US history. Torturer, war criminal, stole billions of dollars in the form of no bid contracts given to Halliburton and his other cronies, treason was the name of Cheney's game.

    June 16, 2013 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  18. That's just crazy talk

    Evil has spoken

    June 16, 2013 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  19. Liz the First

    Obama has no credibility? this from the mastermind of the evil regime that lied us into war with Iraq??? How do you know Cheney is lying? HIS LIPS ARE MOVING! another example of 'it's ok when republicans do it, but if a Democrat does it, it's the wrongest thing on the planet.'

    June 16, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  20. Truth2012

    Go back to your bunker old man... most of the problems in the Middle East are from your doings and unfathomable greed....

    June 16, 2013 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  21. bathhouse bruce

    Cnn sure is obvious. Rally the idiots! Lets talk about Bush and Cheney.
    Dont ya think this Admin. should face some real journalistic scrutiny?

    June 16, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  22. Smelly Guy

    Of course the evil dark lord backs the NSA. Those are his policies. We don't even begin to know the dark projects and policies that he put into place when he had his hand up the back of George W.'s jacket and making his mouth move.

    June 16, 2013 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  23. Right on, VP Chaney!

    Terrorism has subsided somewhat BECAUSE of programs the Bush administration put into place (Obama simply continues them!). Unfortunately Obama continues to support Islamist extremists (a la Syria, where they literally EAT another human being) because he doesn't have the balls of a GW Bush and Chaney for REAL confrontation. Furthermore, 911 was brewing big-time under the Clinton presidency (bin Laden would have been easy to catch then, except that Clinton was too busy with Monica!!). Hey, cowboy2, June 16, 2013 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm - exactly HOW and WHEN was the U.S. government warned about the 911 attack and "did nothing"? PLEASE provide proof or SHUT UP! As for the rest of you Chaney haters, get out of mom's basement, venture into the world and DO something original and daring in the REAL world, not just in your pitiful little "pretend reality" of iPads and cell phones! That's what REAL Americans used to do. YOU jerks actually believe posting some stuff you heard somewhere on a blog makes you special or important? Sure it does!! Pitiful, indeed!

    June 16, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  24. mistamista

    Wow! What a huge compliment in favor of the President! You can't get a much better endorsement than that given by the man who outed an embedded CIA operative, shot his own friend in the face while drunk and then then proceeded to make such a mess of the mid-east that ONLY his company could clean it up. Kudos!

    June 16, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  25. mikek135

    I say keep talking, the more the better. The least credible American, remembered as the evil behind the throne, only reminds of the BUSH and GOP role in this. – exactly opposite of his intentions. – This man is going to forever be this kind of fun as he continues to get more absurd.

    June 16, 2013 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
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