Former Vice President Dick Cheney says the Obama administration no longer believes that America is threatened by terrorists and is making dangerous mistakes in lowering U.S. defenses.
“The threat is there. It's very real and it's continuing,” Cheney told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in the second part of a two-part interview Tuesday night. “And what the Obama people are doing, in effect, is saying, well, we don't need those tough policies that we had.
“That says either they didn't work, which we know is not the case -- they did work, they kept us safe for seven years -- or that now somehow the threat's gone away. There's no longer a threat out there, we don't have to be as tough and aggressive as the Bush administration was.”
It’s that post-9/11 mindset that most concerns him, Cheney said.
“Barack Obama and his administration are no longer going to ask our guys tough questions when they are captured. Now, maybe we won't behead their people when they capture them. I mean, it's just -- it says something about a mindset that I worry about very much,” Cheney said.
“And I think there's a problem out there nationally in the sense that we are 7.5 years, almost 8 years now, away from 9/11,” Cheney continued. “And a lot of people would like to forget it and believe that the threat is gone, it's diminished, it's disappeared.
“Unfortunately, that's not the case. And one of the worst things we could do is start to act now as though the attack of 9/11 is a thing of the past and will never be repeated. That's just not true.”
In an interview that covered everything from his post-administration life to the economy and national security, Cheney painted a gloomy picture of the policies being adopted by the new administration.
Instead of treating terrorism as an act of war, Obama and his officials seem to regard it as a criminal justice issue – a dangerous return to the pre-Bush Doctrine days, Cheney said. On the home front, the new president’s policies are likely to saddle the country with monstrous debts for years to come – which also becomes a national defense issue.
But Cheney did praise Obama for moving fast on his agenda.
“I'll give President Obama credit that he's dealing with big issues,” Cheney told Hannity. “I've seen administrations come to town and only deal with the little ones. You know, he's confronting a lot of major concerns here, and he's the only president we're going to have for the next four years, so we hope he's got some degree of success.
“On the other hand, if you sit down and you look at the policies, and analyze where this administration's going and what they seem to be dedicated to trying to achieve, I think a lot of Americans, myself included, certainly, have major questions about that, or major views that don't think those are the proper courses of action that we ought to be following. And I think we need to speak out on that.”
Cheney confronted the criticism he’s received over the last few weeks for speaking out while former President George W. Bush has kept a respectful silence.
“I've been criticized because I've had the temerity to speak out and done a couple of interviews since I left office. I don't find anything surprising about that. I don't say -- I've been careful not to get personal in terms of my criticisms for my comment, but I think the issues are simply too important for the future of the nation for us to operate as though those of us who disagree somehow shouldn't speak out and be heard. I think we need to be heard,” Cheney said.
A former oil executive during the years he was out of office, Cheney said he feared that the Obama administration’s policies don’t given enough credit to the private sector for being the growth engine of the U.S. economy.
“I'm one of those people who believes that part of the greatness of the United States is our private sector,” Cheney said. “It's what we do as private citizens for ourselves and our companies. And our economy is essentially the wonder of the world because, in fact, it's produced so much for us over the years.
“That's not government that does that. That's the private sector,” the former vice president explained. “And in the course here of trying to fix the downturn in the economy, that admittedly a lot of people are concerned about, we need to address -- although we have had downturns before -- I worry that we're seeing a situation or this administration not only committing us the huge deficits for the future, but is also redefining that relationship between government, on the one hand, and the private sector on the other.”
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