Cheney: Obama has made America 'less safe'
President Barack Obama has made Americans more vulnerable to attack, former vice president Dick Cheney charged Sunday in a defense of his own controversial stance in the "war on terror."
Asked by CNN's John King if he believes Obama has made the nation less safe through his reversal of certain Bush administration anti-terror policies, Cheney said bluntly: "I do."
In his first television interview since leaving office, president George W. Bush's number two blasted Obama's decision to close down the Guantanano Bay prison camp, end harsh interrogations, and close secret CIA detention sites abroad.
In his latest scrapping of Bush policies, Obama on Friday dropped the "enemy combatant" designation for terror suspects and vowed to draw on international law for his administration's detention policy at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
"I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11," Cheney insisted. "I think that's a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles."
"President Obama campaigned against it all across the country<" Cheney continued. "And now he is making some choices that in my mind will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack."
"That's a pretty serious thing to say about the president of the United States and the commander-in-chief of the military," King objected. "I want to give you a chance to take as much time as you want to prove it."
"The key to what we did was to collect intelligence against the enemy," Cheney replied. "That's what the enhanced interrogation program was all about. ... I've seen a report that was written based upon the intelligence that we collected then that itemizes the specific attacks that were stopped. ... There were a great many of them."
"We made a decision after 9/11 that I think was crucial," Cheney observed. "We said, 'This is a war.' ... Then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy."
"When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which is what I sense is what they're doing," Cheney said of the Obama administration, "they're very much giving up that center of attention and focus ... that's essential if you're going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks."
(with wire services)
This video is from CNN's State of the Union, broadcast Mar. 15, 2009.
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