Outgoing Vice President Dick Cheney predicted on Monday that the Obama administration will gain a newfound respect for oft-criticized security measures enacted by the Bush administration — including the controversial Guantanamo prison facility that President-elect Obama has vowed to close.
“My guess is once they get here, and they’re faced with some of the same things we are faced with every day, that they will appreciate some of the things we put in place,” the vice president told radio host Rush Limbaugh on his program Monday.
“We did not exceed our Constitutional authority, as some have suggested. But the president believes, and I believe, very deeply in a strong executive [branch].”
Cheney added, “I think the Obama administration is not likely to cede that authority back to the Congress. I think they’ll find that due to the challenges they face, they’ll need all the authority they can muster.”
As an example, Cheney defended the Guantanamo prison as both “very well run,” and necessary.
“Once you go out and capture a bunch of terrorists, as we did in Afghanistan and elsewhere, then you’ve got to have someplace to put them,” he said on Limbaugh’s program.
“If you bring them here to the U.S. and put them in our local court system, then they are entitled to all kinds of rights that we extend only to American citizens. Remember, these are unlawful combatants. These are people who don’t belong to any recognized military force, that don’t obey the rules of warfare. They’re unlawful combatants.
“If you’re not going to have a place to locate them like Guantanamo, then you either have to bring them here to the continental United States — and I don’t know any member of Congress who is volunteering to have al-Qaida terrorists deposited in his district — or you’ve got to turn them over to some foreign government. We’ve found lots of times when you do that, that a number of them have gone back into the battlefield and tried to kill Americans again. Guantanamo has been very valuable, and I think they’ll discover that trying to close it is a very hard proposition.”
Asked what aspect of the Bush legacy he’s proudest of, Cheney pointed to the administration protecting America from another terrorist attack since 9/11.
Asked if it bothered him that the administration’s achievement in thwarting terrorism hasn’t been generally lauded, Cheney replied, “Well I guess let history handle things like that. We didn’t do it because we thought we were going to be loved. We did it because we believed very deeply in our obligations to protect the country.”
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