Cheney Defends NSA: 'We Need to Protect This Nation'

Saturday, 24 Aug 2013 10:21 PM

By Cathy Burke

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In an impassioned defense of the National Security Agency, former Vice President Dick Cheney said the spy agency has been pivotal in defending America against terrorists and should not be disbanded.

“The biggest threat facing us are terrorists armed with something more dangerous than plane tickets and box cutters,” Cheney told a sold-out crowd Friday at Steamboat Ski Area,  Steamboat Today reported.

As George W. Bush’s second-in-command after the 9/11 attacks, Cheney helped design the NSA surveillance programs.

Cheney spoke alongside his daughter, Liz Cheney, who is running for the Senate in Wyoming.

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The former vice president said national security was a top priority in the nation after the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington, D.C., adding the best decision U.S. leaders made at the time was to treat the attacks as an act of war.

And the NSA has been pivotal in preventing further attacks, he said.

“Getting rid of the NSA is the last possible thing we should do,” Cheney said. “We need to protect this nation."

He particularly defended Gen. Keith Alexander, the embattled director of the NSA,  praising his expertise and leadership.

"I’d let Alexander cover my back anytime," Cheney said.

Liz Cheney took on the Obama administration's stance on national security — and both she and her father said the president was out of touch with situations on foreign soil.

“The world is worse when America is weak or walks away,” Liz Cheney said. “That’s a lesson learned today when you turn on the television."

Her father insisted that the country needs new leadership.

“The first thing you do is you get yourself a new commander in chief,” Cheney said when asked by his daughter to share his thoughts on the spy agency's controversial surveillance program, The Daily Caller reported.

“No question this is a difficult subject matter. There are a lot of Americans out there, some of them good friends of mine, who are concerned about the NSA. Part of the difficulty is — and I plead with people don’t conflate the NSA with the IRS. Totally different problems, totally different issues.”

“It would be a terrible mistake if because the IRS has been abused by Barack Obama and his people, we would therefore turn and say, ‘well, we are going to get rid of the NSA program because it might be abused by the president,'” he added.

Liz Cheney pressed her father, arguing Obama “seems not to care about defending the nation, the Constitution, the rule of law, American privacy and it gives rise to concerns.”

"The president is not up to the job and doesn’t have the same core values we do," Cheney said. "We shouldn’t limit our defense, or defense tools," he said, adding: "We just need to beat him in the next election."

The Cheneys spoke for more than an hour, also touching on the former vice president's recent heart transplant, according to Steamboat Today.

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