Cheney: Obama has made America less safe

CNN’s John King interviewed former Vice President Richard Cheney yesterday:

Power Line posted a nearly complete transcript of the video, as well as what VP Cheney said about the economy and hunt for Osama bin Laden. As you read Cheney’s answer, remember the context of the question, the Obama administration’s retreat from some of the Bush administration’s security policies:

KING: I’d like to just simply ask you, yes or no, by taking those steps, do you believe the president of the United States has made Americans less safe?

CHENEY: I do. I think those programs were absolutely essential to the success we enjoyed of being able to collect the intelligence that let us defeat all further attempts to launch attacks against the United States since 9/11. I think that’s a great success story. It was done legally. It was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles.

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.

KING: That’s a pretty serious thing to say about the president of the United States…


KING: … and commander in chief of the military. So I want to give you a chance, because many people will say, Vice President Cheney just said Barack Obama, President Obama is making us less safe, more at risk, which you just said. I want to give you a chance — and take as much time as you want — to prove it. Because you put that list up there, and I know you say there have been three cases, I believe, of waterboarding in the past, and you say that specific things have been prevented. I know some of this is classified intelligence, but now that you’re out of government, to the degree that you can, tell the American people, because of those tactics, because of those, yes, sometimes extreme tactics, we stopped this.

CHENEY: Well, I would say that the key to what we did was to collect intelligence against the enemy. That’s what the terrorist surveillance program was all about, that’s what the enhanced interrogation program was all about.

KING: But another 9/11, because of a tactic like waterboarding or a black site, can you say with certainty you stopped another attempt to do something on that level?

CHENEY: John, I’ve seen a report that was written based upon the intelligence that we collected then that itemizes the specific attacks that were stopped by virtue of what we learned through those programs. It’s still classified. I can’t give you the details of it without violating classification, but I can say there were a great many of them. The one that has been public was the potential attack coming out of Heathrow, when they were going to have several American planes with terrorists on board, with liquid explosives, and they were going to blow those planes up over the United States.

Now, that was intercepted and stopped, partly because of those programs that we put in place.

Now, I think part of the difficulty here as I look at what the Obama administration is doing, we made a decision after 9/11 that I think was crucial. We said this is a war. It’s not a law enforcement problem. Up until 9/11, it was treated as a law enforcement problem. You go find the bad guy, put him on trial, put him in jail. The FBI would go to Oklahoma City and find the identification tag off the truck and go find the guy that rented the truck and put him in jail.

Once you go into a wartime situation and it’s a strategic threat, then you use all of your assets to go after the enemy. You go after the state sponsors of terror, places where they’ve got sanctuary. You use your intelligence resources, your military resources, your financial resources, everything you can in order to shut down that terrorist threat against you.

When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which I sense is what they’re doing, closing Guantanamo and so forth, that they are very much giving up that center of attention and focus that’s required, and that concept of military threat that is essential if you’re going to successfully defend the nation against further attacks.

There was a time, you might vaguely recall, when the Bush administration was blamed for “not connecting the dots.”

If we get hit again, we will remember all President Obama did to stop collecting the dots.

Obama shopping only 27 of 244 Gitmo detainees for release

According to Hungary’s Budapest Times today, President Barack Obama is only seeking nations to accept 27 of the remaining 244 detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay:

Another meeting was held between deputy Foreign Minister Marta Fekszi Horvath and US Ambassador to Hungary April H. Foley on Hungary’s possible reception of former Guantanamo prisoners, Jan Krc, press attache of the US Embassy in Budapest, told MTI on Tuesday. Marta Fekszi Horvath told MTI earlier in the day that currently 27 inmates were waiting for reception [emphasis added mine] in Guantanamo, and the maximum Hungary would receive is one or two. Hungary wants to wait and see the results of the negotiations of the European Union’s justice and refugee commissioners and the Czech foreign minister in Washington on March 16, on the reception of Guantanamo prisoners, Horvath said. There is no uniform standpoint within the EU on the issue, Horvath said, adding that the former Guantanamo inmates will likely not be granted refugee status in Hungary. Instead, they would receive a special status, which would not allow them to get travel documents, and the authorities would regularly inspect them, she said.

If Mr. Hovath is correct, President Obama is considering what to do with 217 detainees, how many to prosecute, indefinitely detain, or clear for release. From that number, it is not yet clear what the adminstration plans to do with the 97 Yemenis held at Gitmo, including 2 high-value detainees. On January 26, 2009, the Long War Journal reported:

President Saleh announced that the US will repatriate 94 Yemeni detainees within three months. Yemen is building a rehabilitation center with US assistance, and the FBI this week delivered a half million dollars worth of biometric collection equipment including mobile fingerprint sets. President Saleh said Saturday that Yemen had rejected a US plan to release the 94 to Saudi Arabia for rehabilitation. In a Jan. 23 interview, US Ambassador to Yemen, Steven Seche noted, “The Yemeni government legitimately can cite capacity issues that hinder its effectiveness against terrorists.”

If both reports are accurate, that leaves the dispositions of an addtional 123 terrorists to be determined.