Cheney: Obama pretends we’re not at war

posted at 9:30 am on December 30, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

It’s not too often that one can put Dick Cheney and the New York Daily News on the same side.  Both blast Barack Obama for fundamental unseriousness about the war on terrorism and national security after Obama’s poor handling of the Christmas Day terrorist attack.  But where the Daily News contents itself with merely scolding the President over his too-casual approach, Cheney asks whether Obama may have some ulterior motives for downplaying terrorism.

The NYDN editors tells Obama to “get a grip”:

What the public was left with was a never-to-be-repeated case study in crisis mismanagement. It’s time to get a grip, Mr. President.

The attempted bombing occurred at 11:30 a.m. Friday, Christmas. When finally Obama spoke after the weekend, he vowed to hunt down “all who were involved” and promised, as has become standard, to “use every element of our national power to disrupt, dismantle and defeat the violent extremists who threaten us.”

Nothing less is required, and there can be no arguing with the stated mission.

Even so, Obama’s description of Abdulmutallab as an “isolated extremist” was remarkable and disturbing. This radicalized young Nigerian is nothing of the sort. He operated, in fact, as an Al Qaeda-recruited, Al Qaeda-supplied, Al Qaeda-directed foot soldier – as, to put it directly, an enemy combatant, and not as the criminal “suspect” of Obama’s description.

In similarly distant fashion, the President ordered up a “review” of how Abdulmutallab smuggled explosives onto the jet and a “review” of how he slipped through the government’s various terror watch lists despite signals of clear and present danger.

Missing then was a statement about those obvious and unacceptable security cracks; the name, rank and serial number of the officials who would conduct the inquiries, and a deadline for completion and a report to the public. Tuesday, Obama filled in those rather basic blanks.

But Cheney argues in a statement to Politico that Obama has his own reasons for downplaying the significance of the attack:

“As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war. He seems to think if he has a low key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of 9/11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

“He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al Qaeda trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, ‘war on terror,’ we won’t be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency – social transformation—the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war.”

Mike Allen points out that George Bush waited six days to publicly address the Richard Reid shoe-bombing attempt in 2002, which is a fair point, but that’s more of a response to the NY Daily News than to Cheney.  In his statement, Cheney goes beyond Obama’s performance this week to make an entirely different point than just incompetence.  In fact, Cheney believes that Obama’s response fits a pattern that has a rational purpose, which is to move America away from a war mentality entirely and bring the effort against al-Qaeda into the law-enforcement realm instead.

And Cheney has a fair point, too.  The more Obama forces the issue on detention and habeas corpus, then it becomes more difficult to use military and intelligence personnel at all.  One cannot have CIA agents offering Miranda rights and committing to compulsory appearances in court, after all, or they will wind up dead and our sources of intel will dry up entirely.  Obama appears to want the CIA and other intel services to become nothing more than advisers to the FBI, who will swoop in and conduct arrests with fully-detailed warrants, which will allow us to try everyone in federal court.

We tried this before, however, in the 1990s.  It didn’t work out so well.  Oddly enough, Osama bin Laden never appeared in federal court to answer his indictment, and the Clinton administration declined to have him delivered to US custody because we weren’t sure we could get a conviction in court.  This approach resulted in an escalating series of attacks on US assets around the world during the 1990s, with hundreds of lives lost, and it culminated in 9/11.

The Daily News is right to tell Obama to “get a grip.”  We’re at war, not in the middle of a crime wave, and it’s high time Obama started acting like he understands it.


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Bush, Rumsfeld et all barely muster a response to the shoe bomber a week after the fact but y’all are pis*ing your pants over this.
“Obama pretends we’re not at war”
What an incredibly stupid thing to say.
You clowns are the ones who need to get a grip.
Dave Rywall on December 30, 2009 at 10:59 AM

I don’t recall Bush administration officials claiming that the system worked with Reid when it failed in State, the CIA and the TSA.

That’s Obama’s responsibility, so he should stop golfing and start dealing with his job.

Chuck Schick on December 30, 2009 at 11:18 AM

Exactly. The shoebomber was “unprecedented”, and it involved a British national coming through Orly airport in Paris, not Boston International. Obama had the task of explaining why a system operating 9 years later utterly totally failed to halt another foriegn national from boarding a US flight with disguised explosive. And instead of doing that, he ran the usual screen: he went away, and he had a flunky float a trial balloon.

Chris_Balsz on December 31, 2009 at 9:15 AM

Is President Obama really thinking? President Obama does not understand what War is, thus his policies pertaining to dealing with the problem are flawed.

Observations of President Obama indicate that he also only listens to those that he agrees with and opposition is required to be shutdown at all cost.

MSGTAS on December 31, 2009 at 9:37 AM

“all who were involved”

Wait a minute. Didn’t he call this guy an “isolated extremist”?

drjohn on December 31, 2009 at 10:08 AM

Along the lines of pretending we’re not at war, Spathi leads the head-butt into the abyss of never-never-land, just an ostrich with his head buried in the backyard sandbox.

Yes I oppose all military operations. duh
Spathi on December 30, 2009 at 4:05 PM

American Revolutionary War–how dare we declare Independence, ungrateful to our monarch who dared to cap and tax EVERYTHING, without properly permitting our voice be heard in the matter?
The Constitution stipulates for militias and the US Military.
War of 1812–how dare we not acquiesce to British lords and masters attempting their re-acquisition of American property?
WWII: Japan’s attack at Pearl Harbor wasn’t US business, Hawaii being a territory we occupied. We asked to be attacked having promoted extended peace talks in Washington DC.

Given the rate Spathi shovels, when he comes up for air, it will be in Red China.

Shame on the ingrate Spathi! Americans owe the deepest respect to our military troops who sacrifice all in order to preserve and protect our Constitution and our lives. Spathi should direct his frustrations to purge the fraud from this Commander in Chief, the one in charge corrupting the Constitution at this moment.

May God Bless Our Troops!
May God Bless America!

I thank God for our Constitution holding America together.

maverick muse on December 31, 2009 at 10:40 AM

HAPPY NEW YEAR, FOLKS! May your families enjoy good health and love. May we hold our government accountable to abide the Constitution, terminate PC and prosecute fraud.

maverick muse on December 31, 2009 at 10:41 AM

Bush, Rumsfeld et all barely muster a response to the shoe bomber a week after the fact but y’all are pis*ing your pants over this.
“Obama pretends we’re not at war”
What an incredibly stupid thing to say.
You clowns are the ones who need to get a grip.
Dave Rywall on December 30, 2009 at 10:59 AM

Reid’s shoe bomb attempt happened three months after 9/11, where processes and procedures were still evolving. We are now eight years (and a fraction) into the Global War on Terror (a term no longer used by the White House, but certainly used here), and those processes and procedures were firmly in place at the end of the Bush Presidency. What happened in the interim to make us let our guard down?

We “clowns” as you call us certainly do have a grip — it’s called “the buck stops here”. The President is now using nearly identical words that Bush used eight years ago, because he’s had to relearn all the stuff Bush learned eight years ago rather than putting all that forward momentum to work.

Poor Mr. Obama. He’s like a low-acheiving kid set loose in the kitchen, who has to burn his hand on the stove five or six times before he learns the stove is really hot.

The poor guy is a pacifist appeaser and has to learn to be a war President.

Have pity on this country, for we have to relearn, so to speak, along with him.

unclesmrgol on December 31, 2009 at 11:28 AM

We’re spending billions and losing thousands of men in Iraq in a war with underpants bombers. Absurd.

lodge on December 31, 2009 at 11:40 AM

Obama also pretends:

-to be president (but fails miserably-especially in protecting us)
-to like America (in reality he’s trying to destroy it with his asinine policies)
-to be an ally to Israel, Europe, India, etc (he sucks up to our enemies instead)
-to be opposed to Islamic supremacism (he can’t shut up about how great Islam is, in fact its always been evil).
-to be transparent and bipartisan (of course he’s been the opposite)

now we’re stuck with this rotten scoundrel till 2012 unless people had the courage to impeach him and his thugocracy.

If Cheney was in power, Iran’s nuke program would’ve been destroyed along with the regime-the Iranian people would have a democracy again and we would’ve likely also taken out the other terrorist groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and so forth.

Too bad Bush caved to liberal screeching to protect terrorists in the last two years in office when he could’ve taken care of all this by now. As Norman Podhoretz stated, Obama has no intention to stop Iran’s drive for nuclear weapons and he’ll try to prevent Israel from attacking them (in pre-emptive self-defense).

How ignorant of reality does someone have to be not to take the chants of ‘Death to Israel, America, Denmark, UK, etc’ that we see coming out of the muslim world, seriously and particularly from the rulers (like in Iran)?

When Hitler promised to wipe out the Jews everyone laughed him off as well and we got WW2 and the deaths of 50 million people to end Nazism. If we’re going to have similarly large numbers of casualties to stop ‘radical’ Islam, I want all those deaths to occur in our enemy’s side, not ours.

With Islam, the cockroach theory applies-there’s not just one terrorist like Nadal Hassan or this ‘eunuch-bomber’…there’s a whole nest of them where they breed, literally and figuratively and we know it but prefer the safety of self-delusion and political-correctness instead.

So I guess we’re waiting for the ‘big one’, muslims nuking a US city or Israel and millions dying, until we finally decide to take the gloves off and fight this war as if our lives depend on it-which it does, western civilization is at stake.

thinkagain on December 31, 2009 at 1:56 PM

he is right, add to it this little gem from Matt Yglesias:

Ultimately, it does no favors to anyone to blow this sort of thing out of proportion. The United States could not, of course, be “devastated” by anything resembling this scheme. We ought to be clear on that fact. We want to send the message around the world that this sort of vile attempt to slaughter innocent people is not, at the end of the day, anything resembling a serious challenge to American power. It’s attempted murder, it’s wrong, we should try to stop it, but it’s really not much more than that.

What a moron! We’ll see what he says if he ever finds himself in the same position as the innocent passengers of Flight 253. He won’t think it’s “blown out of proportion” then.

NavyMustang on January 1, 2010 at 6:35 PM

What a moron! We’ll see what he says if he ever finds himself in the same position as the innocent passengers of Flight 253. He won’t think it’s “blown out of proportion” then.

NavyMustang on January 1, 2010 at 6:35 PM

Or even the shutdown of the airline industry due to security issues.

At some point people will simply refuse to risk their lives on airplanes (an inherently dangerous method of travel in the first place) if the civilized world is unable to keep the baddies out in a manner that doesn’t cause horrendous time delays. Profitability will take a nosedive if you can’t keep your customers safe in ANY industry, especially when you’re dealing with large-scale travel.

A long enough time period of unprofitability and the nation will face the financial collapse of major air carriers…a dire prospect indeed.

Dark-Star on January 2, 2010 at 12:05 AM

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