Former Vice President Dick Cheney slammed the Obama administration Monday night for what he described as a disturbing tendency to criticize America abroad and embrace avowed enemies like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez while not praising the nation’s success in the war against terrorism.
As an example, Cheney revealed that he had pressed for the release of documents that would show how the Bush administration’s allegedly harsh interrogation techniques had thwarted major terrorist attacks. Instead, President Barack Obama only ordered the release of memos detailing the controversial techniques, not the results.
Cheney made the statements in a two-part interview with Fox News Channel’s Sean Hannity. The first part was broadcast Monday night; the second will be broadcast Tuesday night at 9 p.m.
“What I find disturbing is the extent to which he has gone to Europe, for example, and seemed to apologize profusely in Europe, and then to Mexico, and apologize there, and so forth,” Cheney told Hannity.
“And I think you have to be very careful. The world outside there, both our friends and our foes, will be quick to take advantage of a situation if they think they're dealing with a weak president or one who is not going to stand up and aggressively defend America's interests.”
“The United States provides most of the leadership in the world… I don’t think we have much to apologize for.”
Cheney also said that: the release of CIA memos detailing interrogation techniques was a “little bit disturbing” because the administration hadn’t released documents detailing how those techniques were successful in thwarting terrorism. the Bush administration’s policy of ignoring Chavez and other leftist leaders like Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua was more effective than embracing a dialogue with them. That only serves to validate their anti-democratic tendencies at home. Obama’s habit of traveling abroad – to Europe and Mexico – and apologizing “profusely” for American actions signal weakness to friends and foes alike. criticizing the previous administration is nothing new, and is to be expected from a new president. “We did it. I'm sure the Obama administration is not the first one ever to do that.”
Cheney told Hannity that he had “formally asked” for the declassification of documents he says would “lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.” he had no substantive policy discussions with Vice President Joe Biden, who never asked Cheney for his insight on policy. They only met once after the election.
Cheney explained the Bush administration's interrogation methods in terms of the situation after 9/11. The Bush administration knew little about al-Qaida, and had to quickly get up to speed with much of New York City already in ruins.
“One of the things that I find a little bit disturbing about this recent disclosure is they put out the legal memos, the memos that the CIA got from the Office of Legal Counsel, but they didn't put out the memos that showed the success of the effort,” the former vice president said. “And there are reports that show specifically what we gained as a result of this activity. They have not been declassified.”
“I formally asked that they be declassified now,” Cheney said. “I haven't announced this up until now, I haven't talked about it, but I know specifically of reports that I read, that I saw that lay out what we learned through the interrogation process and what the consequences were for the country.”
“And I've now formally asked the CIA to take steps to declassify those memos so we can lay them out there and the American people have a chance to see what we obtained and what we learned and how good the intelligence was, as well as to see this debate over the legal opinions.”
The handshake between Obama and Chavez was not good because it only serves to undermine the cause of democratic oppositions in countries like Venezuela, where the Chavez regime has moved to crush dissent.
“You have millions of people all across South America who are watching how we respond,” Cheney said. “And if they see an American president sort of cozying up to somebody like Daniel Ortega or Chavez, I think it's not helpful. I think it sort of sets the wrong standard.”
“I've seen Hugo Chavez in operation before, and Daniel Ortega down in Nicaragua,” Cheney said. “These are people who operate in our hemisphere, but who don't believe in and aren't supportive of basic fundamental principles and policies that most of us in this hemisphere adhere to.”
“Basically, the position we took in the Bush administration was to ignore it. I think that was the right thing to do.”
One of the biggest temptations for a new administration is to focus on being liked rather than respected, Cheney said.
“The United States provides most of the leadership in the world. We have for a long time. And I don't think we've got much to apologize for. You can have a debate about that. But the bottom line is that, you know, when you go to Europe and deal with our European friends and allies, some things they do very well, some things they don't.”
“Sometimes it's important that a president speak directly and forthrightly to our European friends. And you don't get there if you're so busy apologizing for past U.S. behavior.”
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