Tags: obama | cheney

Obama: Cheney Approach 'Hasn't Made Us Safer'

Saturday, 21 Mar 2009 03:27 PM

President Barack Obama has hit back at criticism by Dick Cheney, disputing the former vice president's claims that closing Guantanamo endangers the United States, according to interview excerpts released Saturday.

"How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by vice president Cheney?" Obama asked on the CBS program "60 Minutes," scheduled to air late Sunday.

"It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment."

Obama also said the United States had not been effective at preventing detainees released from the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay in southern Cuba from returning to the fight.

"There is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals ... to make sure [they] are not a threat to us, he said.

But he also said the treatment of Guantanamo prisoners by the George W. Bush administration, which included lengthy detentions without trial, was "unsustainable."

In his first television interview since leaving office, Cheney last week blasted Obama's decision to close down the prison camp, which still holds about 240 "war on terror" suspects, end harsh interrogations and shutter secret CIA detention sites abroad.

Cheney told CNN that such programs were "absolutely essential" to enable the government to collect intelligence and prevent a repeat of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

"President Obama campaigned against it all across the country. And now he is making some choices that in my mind will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack," he said.

In contrast, Bush has said he would refrain from criticizing his successor.

Obama also told CBS that he often faces decisions "between bad and worse," and that the hardest thus far has been his choice to send an additional 17,000 US troops to Afghanistan to battle an emboldened insurgency.

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