CIA Director Leon Panetta Smears Dick Cheney

CIA Director Leon Panetta made a loathsome comment about former vice president Dick Cheney when he accused him of hoping we get hit with a terrorist attack in order to prove he is right. If that’s what Dick Cheney secretly wanted, he would have kept his mouth shut these past few weeks because Obama has been taking our national security back to a September 10th mind set:

CIA director Leon Panetta says it’s almost as if former vice president Dick Cheney would like to see another attack on the United States to prove he is right in criticizing President Barack Obama for abandoning the “harsh interrogation” of terrorism suspects.

“I think he smells some blood in the water on the national security issue,” Panetta said in an interview published in The New Yorker magazine’s June 22 issue.

“It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.”

Cheney, who was a key advocate in the Bush administration of controversial interrogation methods such as waterboarding, has become as a leading Republican critic of Obama’s ban on harsh interrogations and his plan to shut the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Director Panetta’s comment was not only in quite shocking, but it was also irresponsible. Former Vice President Cheney knows of what he speaks. He was the only vice president who previously served as a Secretary of Defense. He also served as President Ford’s chief of staff, so he brought with him years of dedicated service to our country and great experience as vice president. To accuse him of secretly hoping we get attacked again is just outrageous.

Naturally, many people are infuriated. Andy McCarthy at The Corner is spot on:

Beyond that, let me say this much about this galactically offensive remark. Democrats have been politicizing our national security, on an unprecedented scale from a major political party, for eight years. I suppose, then, that there’s nothing new here other than the fact that Panetta is infected, which shows how deeply the disease has spread. But the stupidity of the remark is, to me, as alarming as the politicization of national security.

Vice President Cheney had low personal popularity polls because he didn’t respond to the Left’s turning him into Darth Vader — they went for political advantage, he worked to keep the country safe. Every time he’s gone public on something, he’s done so reluctantly, and it’s been because it was important to defend an essential part of the strategy to keep the country safe — and he’s won those public debates.

So here’s the commonsense question: Why would someone who did not care about his public popularity standings when it would have been in his personal interests to pay more attention to that stuff, and who did not care precisely because he thought it was more important to protect the country, NOW decide that he wanted Americans to die so he could prove a policy point?

Obviously, he wouldn’t.

Today, former Vice President Cheney responded:

I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted. The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years.

I can’t imagine I’d be as calm in my response if someone had said that about me. Instead, it was Senator McCain who came out swinging:

CIA Director Leon Panetta should immediately retract comments he made to the New Yorker magazine suggesting former Vice President Cheney is wishing for another terrorist attack on the U.S., Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) demanded Monday.

“I disagreed with the Cheney policy on interrogation techniques, but never did it cross my mind that Dick Cheney would ever want an attack on the United States of America,” the former Republican presidential candidate said during an appearance on Fox News. “It’s unfair, and I think that Mr. Panetta should retract, and retract immediately.”

Indeed he should. Although he’s not retracting officially, a CIA spokesman is backpedaling:

A CIA spokesman is sharply downplaying Director Leon Panetta ‘s recent comments that appear to question whether former Vice President Dick Cheney is hoping for another terrorist attack against the United States.

“The Director does not believe the former Vice President wants an attack,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement to CNN. “He did not say that. He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone’s motives.”

Yes, he did.

Shortlink:

Posted by on June 15, 2009.
Filed under CIA, Dick Cheney, National Security.
You can read more from Kim at KimPriestap.com.

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  • Mac Lorry

    He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe.

    Cheney’s assertion is based on the results obtained from use of the EIT’s and that information is documented in memos Cheney has repeatedly asked to have releases. The White House admitted that President Obama has the authority to release those memos regardless of any litigation that might involve them. Furthermore, Obama has already released other memos that revealed the sources and the methods, which are usually the parts that the government wants to keep secret. High ranking democrats say they have seen the memos Cheney is asking for and claim that they refute Cheney’s claim that EIT’s work.

    So there’s no rational reason to not release the memos Cheney is asking for unless they, in fact, demonstrate that EIT’s did work in helping keep the nation safe. If so, then Cheney’s assertion that Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe, is in fact correct. The American people have a right to know the truth. Release the memos. The longer Obama stalls the more it looks like a cover up from an man who claimed he would run a transparent administration. Was that a lie?

  • http://albanymediabias.blogspot.com Falze

    So does that mean that “the director misrepresented what the director meant to say” a la Biden?

  • GarandFan

    Hey Leon, you dumb ass. Let’s resolve the issue once and for all. Get your pal Barry to release ALL the memos. Let the American public be the judge. Or is it that you DON’T want the public to see whats there?

  • Hank

    Typical liberal attack by Panetta.
    Impugn the motives of those you disagree with.
    Keep it personal, avoid the actual facts.

    This is the real legacy that Ted Kennedy leaves behind.

  • Aluceo

    WHY THE CHENEYS WON’T LEAVE THE SCENE: A QUESTION OF JOURNALISTIC DEONTOLOGY!

    The recent appearances of the Cheneys over the media as a credible political opponent on par to the Obama administration’s policies and stances raises an issue of journalistic deontology! This is definitely of artificial making.

    On the one hand, we’ve got a legitimately elected President of the United States who has undergone the rigorous electoral process having to make his case to the American people and coming out successful in eliciting the policies he intends to carry out during his mandate within the confines of the American political institutional structure and process.

    On the other hand, we’ve got political personae (the Cheneys) who are effectively being presented by the media as a legitimate opponent on par to the Obama administration whereas they do not bear any electoral mandate whatsoever for the political views they profer and with no consequent responsiblity, stake and risk that will arise from any such mandate while the President is tied to them.

    For comments/expressions of opinion on the President’s policies, their views have been given such a broad artificial reception by the media that runs very contrary to the expression of opinion as we’ve come to know it. These views are rather given almost the same weight and placed on par as the political stances of a legitimately elected president with a legitimate mandate for the policies he is undertaking while the Cheney’s hold no such legitimate mandate and with no accompanying political accountability whatsoever.

    The issue here is that such attitude by the media is contrary to what we’ve come to expect from normal implicit democratic rules. If the Cheneys had any pretense for policies they wished to be implemented after the Bush Administration, the solution would have simply been for Dick or Liz to run for president. Since they didn’t, it is artificial for the media to strive to present them as a counterweight on par to the Obama administration’s policies well beyong what will be expected for the opinion of a simple citizen that the Cheneys are now notwithstanding their previous political roles.

    And by the way, by extension is it acceptable that any citizen, no matter what self-righteous pretense they might have, to be artificially given a similar counterweight role on par with the President on any policy issues of the Obama administration while not holding any legitimate political mandate for which they will be politically accountable for their stances? It can be understandable, that the Cheneys can be of direct concern when it comes to matters of direct relation to political issues having to do with Cheney’s role in the Bush administration. But to raise their views on the policies and stances the administration should take on par with the President undermines appropriate journalistic deontology because as we should all know by now “elections do matter”.

    What strikes the mind here is that the Cheneys have perfectly understood this “naïvété” of the media and are using this “media confusion about fairness” to artificially strive to extirpate Mr. Dick Cheney from accusations of introducing torture policies during the Bush Administration among other political accusations. Their strategy is very simple. Legally, Cheney can’t make it (they know that secretly). In all courts of law, so-called EITs are definitely torture practices. Besides, the facts as we know them are overwhelmingly against him and the Bush Administration, and Dick Cheney’s contradictions are extensive.

    The real strategy of the Cheney’s here is totally otherly: turn it “political”. First, saying torture works and was for the good of the country should elicit the fervour of many Americans. Afterall, all what is needed is that a substantial number of Americans polled buy to this argument, and then the issue’s legal underpinning may be undermined.

    Secondly, posing artificially as the right wing counterweight to the Obama’s administration policies elicits the impression and fervour in some quarters particularly to the right that he is making the President moderate and thus he is political useful. A look at this second political trick shows how the media has effectively been manipulated: knowing fairly well that in his administrative role the President will have to take practical and pragmatic postures with respect to the release of photos of abused detainees as well as on other policies, all what Dick simply have to do is to posit that he is against releasing the pictures and pretend to take critical policy issues postures on the right, making him seemingly a moderating influence on the President.

    Thirdly, the Cheneys simply have to claim that Obama is following the Bush Administration’s policies he criticized pointing to his strategies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. In this case too, the media is manipulated as they ignore the fact that the Obama administration does not have the luxury of starting from scratch as Bush had on all these issues but rather adopts a “course correction strategy” of the situations to bring them as close as possible to what he advocates.

    The fact is that, the underlying strategy of Dick and her daughter is to make this three steps political trick extirpate Dick from the accusations levied against the former administration. The sad thing is that the media is “naïvely” falling for these political tricks!

  • SCSIwuzzy

    Aluceo,
    Again, posting the same long winded screed that you’ve probably plagiarized on every blog you visit is only a small step above sock puppetry.

    Man up, and respond to the individuals, instead of being a cut and paste douche.

  • http://opsworld09.blogspot.com/ Peter F.

    Gee, I don’t recall George Tenet, Portor Goss or any another CIA Director yapping on in public about political matters. The CIA is never, ever supposed to be concerned with politics.

    Panetta’s best answer to any of the reporter’s questions should have been, “I’m sorry, I can’t comment on political matters. My duty is to provide the support and leadership my team needs to do their jobs and keep them safe.”

    Or something to that affect.

  • Mac Lorry

    Aluceo,

    On the one hand, we’ve got a legitimately elected President of the United States who has undergone the rigorous electoral process having to make his case to the American people. . .

    Given all that, Obama had zero experience in a governmental executive position, and more importantly, zero experience in defending this nation from terrorists.

    On the other hand, we’ve got political personae (the Cheneys) who are effectively being presented by the media as a legitimate opponent on par to the Obama administration. . .

    Given all that, Cheney has vastly more experience in government and more importantly, first hand experience in defending this nation against terrorists.

    Obama claims EIT’s can’t work and Cheney claims they did work. Elections and mandates are meaningless as all that counts is the truth. Cheney has requested memos be declassified that document the truth about EIT’s. Obama refusing to do so for no valid reason lends credence to Cheney’s claims, and if keeping America safe is the goal, then all that counts is the truth, not who’s opinion should have more weight.

    In all courts of law, so-called EITs are definitely torture practices.

    Wrong! The law that extended the protections of the Geneva conventions to terrorists wasn’t passed until 2006, long after the EIT’s had stopped being used. You can’t make something retroactively illegal, at least not in the U.S., at least not yet.

    Besides, the facts as we know them are overwhelmingly against him and the Bush Administration, and Dick Cheney’s contradictions are extensive.

    The fact that Obama is withholding the memos from the public is strong evidence that what they contain supports Cheney’s claims.

    First, saying torture works and was for the good of the country should elicit the fervour of many Americans. Afterall, all what is needed is that a substantial number of Americans polled buy to this argument, and then the issue’s legal underpinning may be undermined.

    How about we go with the truth rather than some liberal theory. If EIT’s work then they should be used if needed to gain information that saves American lives. The idea that we would not aggressively interrogate the very masterminds of terror at the cost of thousands of American lives is something only lunatics espouse. Are you a lunatic?

    The fact is that, the underlying strategy of Dick and her daughter is to make this three steps political trick extirpate Dick from the accusations levied against the former administration. The sad thing is that the media is “naïvely” falling for these political tricks!

    So if it’s all a trick and Obama is right that EIT’s can never work then all Obama has to do is release the memos Cheney has asked for. That would destroy Cheney’s creditability, right.

    What’s clear from the fact that Obama is not releasing those memos is that they support Cheney’s claims and they would destroy Obama’s credibility and demonstrate that his entire foreign policy is based on a lie.

  • SCSIwuzzy

    Mac,
    Don’t bother responding to Aluceo. He didn’t write what he pasted into the comments, here or on any other blog.

  • Trajan

    Leon “potato-nose” Panetta exemplifies The
    Peter Principle. Take a partisan hack,
    elevate him to directorship of the C.I.A.
    despite his lack of credentials, and set
    him loose to fire salvos at the leaders
    of the opposition. Gives one a real sense
    of security, doesn’t it? American voters?
    “….what fools these mortals be”.

  • Mac Lorry

    SCSIwuzzy,

    Nevertheless, I wanted to refute what Aluceo posted.

  • Aluceo

    While Obama has been criticized for following the Bush Administration policies on National Security, there is a failure to recognize that the Obama Administration does not have the luxury of revoking abruptly all the policies of the previous administration with which he disagrees politically simply from an “administrative” standpoint as starting all over is unrealistic. So what he is doing is to adapt a “course correction strategy”.

    With military commissions, a legal framework approved by the judicial and legislative branches will be set up unlike during the Bush Administration where these commissions existed in “legal limbo” and were ruled illegal by the Supreme Court. As for rendition, the Obama Administration policy unlike the Bush Administration policy is to hand over foreign detainees to their foreign governments only on the assurance that they will not be tortured. Further, the CIA will no longer move detainees to “black sites” (secret CIA prisons) since these have been ordered to be closed. The point is Obama is determined to remain within the bounds of the law. Even with the issue of indefinite detention of prisoners, the Obama Administration has advanced that it will regularly seek the approval of the legal and judicial branches.

    Cheney goes as far as to make a remark seemingly to prove that even Obama finds EITs (torture) potentially useful:
    “Yet having reserved for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the same methods in the same circumstances,”

    This is a crappy fallacy! Of course, it is the obligation of the President to be open to take any action as he might deem appropriate in the case of any future eventuality whatever its nature (and not only with respect to a terrorism related emergency). Now it is one thing for the President to be open to take any action (on the basis of this broad principle) and another thing to purport that because in principle he is open to any such future eventuality, he should validate any unlawful principle as the policy of the administration. In which case he may just as well validate the overriding of any legal principle, for instance the fifth amendment, since there is the remote possibility that there might be a future eventuality which may require him to be open to an action that compromises the fifth amendment.

    The President’s official stance is always for the primacy of legality. To follow Dick Cheney’s logic, then no legal principle should be upheld by the President as well, since there is a remote possibility that he may be open to override it in case of a future eventuality. The fact is the onus for overriding a legal principle rests on the exception to the legal principle, and it does not rest on the legal principle in of itself as Cheney seems to purport. In the case of the so-called “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” (torture policy), the immediacy and efficiency grounds raised by Cheney as the exception to the legal principle (Geneva protocol and other legal rules on torture) fail awfully given the details we now have of how these EITs were carried out.

    Accounts by professional interrogators of the FBI and CIA clearly indicate that torture does not work and was (and is) illegal. The reason why Cheney strove to contract private interrogators who had no previous interrogation experience was for the sake of providing fodder for the policies he sought, and not to prevent likely terror attacks. Actually, all the critical information gather from the detainees were obtained by professional interrogators like Ali Soufan who were instead hampered by these contractors.

    On EITs, the fact is Dick Cheney used his position to manipulate his subordinates and keep the President (George W. Bush) in the dark. Former CIA and other subordinate officials including George Tenet were simply cohesed to take unorthodox positions. The fact of the matter is that Cheney strove for the setting up of a bogus legal framework and bogus accounts on the need and efficacy of torture. See link to get an insight on Cheney’s methods as Vice-president. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/09/14/AR2008091401974.html)

    The fact is Dick Cheney’s machinations have had the grave consequence of undermining American power and prestige at the beginning of the 21st century with his lack of concern in CIA warning reports on the threat of al qaida which led to the 9/11 attacks, then involvement in Iraq with the massive costs to the US both financially (more than 600 billion dollars as of date) and in life (4000+ soldiers dead , 30000+ maimed and the hundreds of thousand of civilian casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan) and not least his torture policies sapping American moral authority around the world.

  • http://wizbangblog.com maggie

    Aluceo,
    Why don’t you quit wasting time and bandwidth
    copying and pasting your cookie cutters.
    Or least keep them short.