- The Washington Times - Sunday, March 15, 2009

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said the policies being pursued by President Obama will make America more vulnerable to terrorists.

Mr. Cheney said that “enhanced interrogation” techniques, the government’s wiretap program and other Bush administration initiatives were “absolutely essential” to preventing terrorist attacks after Sept. 11. Speaking Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union with John King,” Mr. Cheney also hit back against critics who said the programs violated civil liberties.

“It was done legally; it was done in accordance with our constitutional practices and principles,” Mr. Cheney said.

He said the Obama administration’s plans to close the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba and reverse other Bush policies on terrorism “will, in fact, raise the risk of the American people to another attack.”

“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,’” Mr. Cheney said. “When you go back to the law enforcement mode, which is what I sense [the Obama administration] is doing … they’re very much giving up that center of attention, of focus, that’s required — that concept of military threat that’s essential.”

Mr. Cheney, who said he has spoken on the phone three times with former President Bush since leaving office, also shrugged off accusations that their administration is responsible for the deteriorating economy. Describing the recession as a global financial problem, he called Mr. Obama’s repeated blaming of the Bush administration for the economic crisis “interesting rhetoric.”

“There’s no question that what the economic circumstances that he inherited are difficult ones. You know, we said that before we left,” he said. “I think the notion that you can just sort of throw it off on the prior administration, that’s interesting rhetoric, but I don’t think anybody really cares a lot about that.”

Asked about conservative talk-show icon Rush Limbaugh, Mr. Cheney downplayed the host’s recent dust-up with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael S. Steele.

“Rush is a good friend. I love him. I think he does great work,” he said, adding that he would pay to see the commentator debate Mr. Obama.