Cheney to Obama: Glad to see you've come around to our position on counterterrorism

If he’s looking to damage Obama among his own base, this is the very worst thing he could have said about him, isn’t it?

Actually, it isn’t. The very worst thing he could have said would be that even he’s uncomfortable with some of the new powers being asserted by The One. Imagine it — Darth Cheney, neocon lord of the Sith, tut-tutting the progressive Yoda about indefinite detention without trial and assassinations of American citizens like Awlaki. An opportunity lost, my friends. The meltdowns would have been exquisite.

I think he’s– in terms of a lot of the terrorism policies– the early talk, for example, about prosecuting people in the CIA who’ve been carrying out our policies– all of that’s fallen by the wayside. I think he’s learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he’s learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election.

JAMIE GANGEL:

You said you believe President Obama has made America less safe. That he’s actually raised the risk of attack. Do you still feel that way?

DICK CHENEY:

Well, when I made that comment, I was concerned that the counterterrorism policies that we’d put in place after 9/11 that had kept the nation safe for over seven years were being sort of rapidly discarded. Or he was going to attempt to discard them. Things like the enhanced interrogation techniques or the terror surveillance program.

They’d been vital from our perspective in terms of learning basic fundamental intelligence about al Qaeda, about how they operated, who they were, where we could find them. And we were able to put in place a successful policy that did prevent any further major attacks against the United States over all those years. And he campaigned against all of that.

As I say, I think he’s found it necessary to be more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did. They’ve gotten active, for example, with the drone program, using Predator and the Reaper to launch strikes against identified terrorist targets in the various places in the world.

The video will air tomorrow on “Today”; the only clip they’ve made available thus far is the one below of Cheney describing his new heart pump. As for the substance of his comments, needless to say, he’s not just scoring points on Obama here. Eli Lake, the Washington Times’s ace beat reporter on national security, wrote more than one overview last year about how The One has adopted and built on Bush’s counterterror apparatus, even grounding his arguments in the same legal justification Bush used — the September 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force in Afghanistan — despite the ever widening scope of the war on terror. Obama gets away with it because he’s “good” and Cheney, of course, is evil, but follow the last link and dwell a bit on Lake’s question. If the war is forever expanding and the president’s powers are forever expanding with it, what means remain for reining in the latter?

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