Cheney, Biden go back and forth on terror policy
By John Amick
Today on the Sunday talk shows:
ABC: THIS WEEK - Cheney still troubled by Obama policies
Former Vice President Richard B. Cheney continued his criticism of the Obama administration's national security policies, saying he is troubled by what he calls a mindset from the current administration that seems to ignore a global war on terror.
Cheney pointed to the handling of alleged Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab as evidence that the Obama administration is either unprepared or not serious about national security.
"It's very important to go back and keep in mind the distinction between handling these events as criminal acts, which was the way we did before 9/11, and then looking at 9/11 and saying, 'This is not a criminal act,' not when you destroy 16 acres of Manhattan, kill 3,000 Americans, blow a big hole in the Pentagon. That's an act of war," Cheney said.
When asked about the Bush administration's handling of shoebomber Richard Reid, Cheney posited that in December 2001, military commissions weren't set up in the post-9/11 form they were to take in later years following guidelines from the Supreme Court. Cheney also said that Reid pleading guilty also affected the handling of the case. But Cheney was not clear on how that would affect the questioning of Reid as the suspect, which was the crux of his argument regarding suspect Abdulmutallab.
"The thing I learned from watching that process unfold, though, was that the administration really wasn't equipped to deal with the aftermath of an attempted attack against the United States in the sense that they didn't know what to do with the guy," Cheney said.
Despite the lack of commissions, Cheney acknowledged that the Bush administration could have put Reid in military custody anyway.
"We could have put him into military custody," he said. "I don't question that. The point is, in this particular case, all of that was never worked out, primarily because he pled guilty."
Cheney said that his entire argument against the Obama administration centers on ignoring war status.
"If you're really serious and you believe this is a war and if you believe the greatest threat is a 9/11 with nukes or a 9/11 with a biological agent of some kind, then you have to consider it as a war, you have to consider it as something we may have to deal with tomorrow," he said. "You don't want the vice president of the United States running around saying, 'Oh, it's not likely to happen,'" he said referring to a statement Vice President Joe Biden made about preparedness and deterring another 9/11-like event in the United States.
Cheney did voice admiration for the Obama administration's policies in Afghanistan.
"I'm a complete supporter of what they're doing in Afghanistan. I think the president made the right decision to send troops into Afghanistan. I thought it took him a while to get there," Cheney said, despite his own administration's refusal to listen to then-top U.S. military official in Afghanistan Gen. David D. McKiernan's request for more troops near the end of the Bush administration's tenure.
On Iraq, Cheney said if Vice President Biden wants to take credit for a stabilized Iraqi government after openly disagreeing with the Bush administration's decision to implement a troop surge in Iraq in 2007, he should thank President George W. Bush.
"If they're going to take credit for it, fair enough, for what they've done while they're there, but it ought to go with a healthy dose of 'Thank you, George Bush' up front and a recognition that some of their early recommendations, with respect to prosecuting that war, were just dead wrong," Cheney said.
Of a Department of Justice report, spanning 2001 to 2005, from Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft that touted criminal convictions, Cheney suggested he was not in favor of the position and lost out in the long run.
"I can remember a meeting in the Roosevelt Room in the West Wing of the White House where we had a major shootout over how this was going to be handled between the Justice Department, that advocated that approach, and many of the rest of us, who wanted to treat it as an intelligence matter, as an act of war with military commissions," he said.
Cheney went on to hit the Obama administration for attempting to close the Guantanamo Bay prison -- which Cheney said may very well continue to exist throughout Obama's first term -- and nullifying the use of waterboarding on terror suspects.
On Iran, Cheney said he was hopeful sanctions will work, but refused to elaborate on whether the Bush administration was close to military action against Iran.
"I think they're most likely to work if you keep the military option on the table," he said. "I don't think you want to eliminate the military -- the possibility of military action. I think that's essential to give any kind of meaning at all to negotiations over sanctions."
Cheney said he occasionally speaks to former President George W. Bush, and he does not think Bush is opposed to his outspoken nature pertaining to the Obama administration. Bush has thus far refused to comment on much in the way of Obama's national security policies.
CBS: FACE THE NATION - Biden cites 'relentless' action in beating back al-Qaeda
Vice President Joe Biden defended comments he made Wednesday that al-Qaeda was not planning a 9/11-level attack by pointing to Obama administration policy successes and the "relentless" actions to isolate and eradicate al-Qaeda's influence throughout the world.
"We agree, the worst nightmare is the possession of nuclear weapons or a radiological weapon by al-Qaeda. That's why we put incredible resources, we've had significant success. We've eliminated over a dozen of their top 20 operatives, another 100 of their associates," Biden said of the administration's pursuits, adding that al-Qaeda's coordination operations have been significantly hampered.
He came back at former Vice President Dick Cheney, a leading critic of the Obama administration on national security measures and Biden's comments on al-Qaeda in particular, saying the efforts of the last year have trumped those of the Bush administration.
"I don't know what Dick doesn't understand," Biden said of Cheney. "The worry is legitimate. The reason why I do not think it's likely is because of all the resources we have put on this, considerably more than the last administration did, to see to it that it will not happen."
Biden also defended the treatment of alleged Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, saying Abdulmutallab has cooperated thanks in part to the way authorities have handled him, including bringing his family in to encourage him to talk. Again answering Cheney's dissatisfaction with current security policies, Biden wondered what the difference is between the Bush administration's handling of terror suspects and that of Abdulmutallab.
"The irony here is that's exactly what was done with [Zacarias] Moussaoui, the 21st hijacker," Biden said. "That was exactly what was done with [shoebomber] Richard Reid. That was exactly what was done under the [Bush] administration that he defended. And now he finds this somehow an extraordinary measure which happens to work that he doesn't like. I don't get it."
As to criticism of holding a criminal trial for 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed rather than a military tribunal, Biden pointed out that no matter what the forum, the suspect will get legal representation. He said President Obama is taking a tribunal for KSM under consideration, but only because the political dimensions of the case muddied the prospects for a criminal trial.
Biden cited the inconsistency of convictions via military commissions versus the success of criminal-court convictions in the past several years as proof the tribunals are not a cure-all solution to trying terror cases. Based on the evidence he has seen, Biden said of KSM, "I am absolutely convinced he will be put away for a long, long time."
Answering Cheney's criticism again, in this case regarding taking credit for successes in Iraq, Biden said taking responsibility was what the Obama administration had to do, and he doesn't care who gets the credit as long as a positive outcome materializes for the Iraqi people.
"My generic point is, we have managed this very well thus far," he said. "The Iraqis have done really good work. If this works, it will be a great credit to the Iraqis and a great credit to our military and civilian leadership...."
CNN: STATE OF THE UNION - Security adviser: Abdulmutallab is cooperating
Countering critics of the Obama administration's handling of terror suspects in U.S. custody, White House national security adviser James L. Jones said Sunday that alleged Christmas day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has cooperated with officials and continued to provide "satisfying" information.
"What we learned is that ... we should move much more quickly to have an integrated team arrive very quickly to make the best judgment possible as to which way we should proceed in the future," Jones said. "Having studied this pretty carefully, and being aware of what happened both before he was read his rights and after he was read his rights in this particular case, we are getting the information that we need."
Jones added that takeaway lessons from the incident include having the most qualified agents possible on the scene immediately in such situations where national security is believed to be at risk.
When asked about former Vice President Dick Cheney's criticism that Abdulmuttalab should not have received Miranda rights following his apprehension, despite similar actions taken by the Bush administration against suspects such as shoebomber Richard Reid in 2001, Jones avoided a direct answer but said national security is not an issue that should be used for political posturing.
"I don't know what his information is," Jones said of Cheney. "I just would ask people to consider the fact that these are very serious issues for our country, and that when we take them on, we take them on in a respectful way."
Jones was noncommittal on the possibility of a military tribunal for 9/11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after recent developments to try him in a criminal trial in Manhattan fell through following dissent from New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
As American, Afghan and coalition forces begin to flood Taliban strongholds in southern Afghanistan this weekend in the beginning of the Obama administration's troop escalation in the war, Jones said he is confident the strategy is proceeding successfully, especially with a determined Afghan army and cooperation from tribal leaders throughout the region.
He said Afghan President Hamid Karzai is being held to a high standard, but change in Afghanistan's government structure requires patience. Of a recent meeting with Karzai, Jones maintained that he "left more confident now than I have been at anytime in the past" in Karzai's commitment to his own people.
Of Karzai's brother, widely suspected of involvement in drug trafficking in Afghanistan, Jones said that while perceptions are important, he believes that there is not compelling evidence for the Afghan government to take action on him.
"As far as hard proof, I would assume that if they had it, that they would have done something about it," he said. "But it's an open issue and a fair question."
Of repealing "don't ask, don't tell" rules in the U.S. military that bar those openly gay and lesbian from serving, Jones said he supports the actions of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates in reviewing, and subsequently ending, the policy.
FOX NEWS SUNDAY - Jones: Need global solidarity with Iran
National security adviser James L. Jones said sanctions on Iran for trying to further its nuclear capabilities are best sought through the United Nations and the International Atomic Energy Agency rather than by a coalition of countries willing to impose such guidelines.
"I think that we are on a steady path -- on a clear path here for what has to happen next, all the while leaving the door open for Iran to do the right thing," Jones said, stressing global solidarity on the issue. "Frankly, it is in their interest to do this."
Jones said the Obama administration is not pushing regime change in Iran, hoping the Iranian people will fight for their best interests.
"We are not actively engineering regime change in the sense that we believe that the people of Iran will carve out their own destiny," he said.
Jones agreed with Vice President Joe Biden's assessment that a prosperous Iraq would be a victory for both countries, and that it is not inappropriate for the current administration to take credit for fostering a new democratic Iraq.
"I think if Iraq turns out to be a stable democracy, which it appears to be on the road, however rocky, to do, if we can withdraw our troops on the schedules that we have outlined, it will certainly be a great achievement for the country and, by association, the administration that is in power when that day comes," he said.
February 14, 2010; 1:49 PM ET
Categories: 44 The Obama Presidency , Sunday Talkies
Save & Share: Previous: In radio address, Obama calls for "cuts where we can"
Next: Evan Bayh's reasons why
Posted by: RayOne | February 16, 2010 12:26 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: tedri50 | February 16, 2010 1:15 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: newagent99 | February 15, 2010 10:05 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Fei_Hu | February 15, 2010 9:53 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: newagent99 | February 15, 2010 9:33 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: scrivener50 | February 15, 2010 1:43 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: Maerzie | February 14, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: wease1010 | February 14, 2010 3:59 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: JeffreyM23 | February 14, 2010 3:48 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: wewintheylose | February 14, 2010 3:11 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: longjohns | February 14, 2010 3:08 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: sr31 | February 14, 2010 2:29 PM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.