Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday took a shot at former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell by accusing him of turning his back on Republicans, adding that conservative broadcaster Rush Limbaugh is a more loyal party member than the retired Army general.
“If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh,” said Mr. Cheney on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”
Mr. Powell recently said that Republicans need to move to the center politically and said that Mr. Limbaugh’s conservative rhetoric is polarizing and hurts the party’s image. The radio talk-show host fired back by accusing Mr. Powell of being “just another liberal” and said he should become a Democrat.
Mr. Cheney agreed that, in light of Mr. Powell’s endorsement of Democrat Barack Obama’s presidential bid last year, that he no longer can be considered a Republican.
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“I assumed that that is some indication of his loyalty and his interest,” Mr. Cheney said, adding that Mr. Powell’s recent comments had convinced him that “Colin had already left the party.”
“I didn’t know he was still a Republican,” he said.
Mr. Cheney on Sunday also continued his attack on Mr. Obama’s national-security policies, saying the country has been more vulnerable to a terrorist attack since the Obama administration took power.
Mr. Cheney said the administration’s dismantling of many Bush-era policies and protections - including the planned closing of the detention facility for terrorism suspects at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay Cuba and the suspension of controversial interrogation techniques - have made the country more vulnerable to future attacks.
“That’s my belief,” he said. “I think to the extent that those [Bush-era] policies were responsible for saving lives, that the administration is now trying to cancel those policies … means in the future we’re not going to have the same safeguards we’ve had for the last eight years.”
Mr. Cheney said now-banned techniques such as waterboarding had been effective tools in extracting useful information from terrorism suspects such as Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, who is accused of helping carry out the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
“He did not cooperate fully in terms of interrogations until after waterboarding,” Mr. Cheney said. “Once we went through that process, he produced vast quantities of invaluable information about al Qaeda.”
But the Obama administration’s national security adviser derided such claims on ABC’s “This Week.”
“Oh, I don’t believe that,” said retired Gen. James L. Jones, when asked about Mr. Cheney’s remarks about the Guantanamo facility and the interrogation programs. “And I think, frankly, in the Bush administration, there wasn’t complete agreement with the vice president on that score.”
He also said Mr. Obama was “absolutely committed” to upholding the rule of law.