Cheney steps up assault on Obama

May 13, 2009 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, May 13 – Former vice president Dick Cheney stepped up his assault on President Barack Obama on Tuesday, warning he was making "huge" mistakes on the economy and stripping America’s anti-terror arsenal.

Cheney, who has emerged as a fierce defender of the last US administration — while former president George W. Bush’s has remained silent — also said Obama’s plan to close the Guantanamo Bay terror camp was a "terrible" idea.

"Bottom line is, we successfully defended the nation for seven-and-a-half years against a follow-on attack to 9/11," Cheney said in an interview with Fox Business Network.

"That was a remarkable achievement. Nobody would have thought that was possible, but it was. I believe it was possible because of the policies we had in place, which they’re now dismantling."

Cheney defended the harsh CIA interrogation methods used on terror suspects, branded by critics as torture, which the Obama administration has halted.

He also weighed in on Guantanamo Bay camp which Obama has vowed to close within a year.

"I think it’s a terrible idea," Cheney said.

"If you bring those people to the United States, I don’t know a single congressman who is going to stand up and say, ‘Gee, send me some terrorists. I’d like to have some Al-Qaeda-types living in my district.’"

Cheney’s interview represented his second attack on the administration within three days, especially targeting anti-terror policies repudiating the tactics of the former Bush administration.

"I think that we are stripping ourselves of some of the capabilities that we used in order to block, if you will, or disrupt activities by Al-Qaeda that would have led to additional attacks," Cheney said.

Cheney has called on the administration to declassify several CIA memos which he maintains show information gained from harsh interrogations yielded important intelligence.

White House press spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday dismissed Cheney’s argument about Guantanamo, saying the prison had not made America safer, referring to the damage it had wrought on the US image abroad.

He said that Obama’s anti-terror policy was superior to that of the Bush administration, as the president was pouring extra resources into Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the September 11 attacks in 2001 were planned.

"The best way to keep this country safe is to go at the terrorist threat, something that the previous administration didn’t do," said Gibbs, who on Monday suggested Cheney was trying to refight the 2008 election.

In the Fox interview, Cheney also accused the Obama administration of making a "huge mistake" by increasing the power of government over the private sector in its efforts to save the financial industry.

Earlier, Cheney’s daughter Liz, also a former Bush administration official, defended her father’s searing attacks on the Obama White House.

"He feels very strongly that he has got an obligation to speak out," Cheney said.

"My Dad feels very strongly that what the current administration is doing is making the country less safe … it would be the easiest thing the world for him to go fishing and spend time with his grandkids."


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