- The Washington Times - Monday, June 15, 2009

From combined dispatches

CIA Director Leon Panetta says former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticism of the Obama administration’s approach to terrorism almost suggests the former vice president would be glad of a major terrorist attack as vindicating his criticism of President Obama.

“I think he smells some blood in the water on the national security issue,” Mr. Panetta said in an interview published in the New Yorker magazine’s June 22 issue.

“It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics,” said Mr. Panetta, a former Democratic House member from California. “When you read behind it, it’s almost as if he’s wishing that this country would be attacked again, in order to make his point.”

Mr. Cheney has said in several interviews that he thinks Mr. Obama is making the United States less safe, remarks Mr. Panetta called “dangerous politics.”

The former vice president has been critical of Mr. Obama for ordering the closure of the detention facility at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, halting enhanced interrogations of suspected terrorists and reversing other Bush administration initiatives he says helped prevent attacks on the United States.

Last month, Mr. Cheney offered a withering critique of Mr. Obama’s policies and a defense of the Bush administration on the same day that Mr. Obama made a major speech about national security. He called Mr. Obama’s reversals “unwise in the extreme.”

Mr. Panetta also told the New Yorker he had favored the creation of an independent truth commission to look into the detainee policies of former President George W. Bush, but the idea died in April when Mr. Obama decided that such a panel could be seen as politically vindictive.

Asked whether he agreed with Mr. Panetta’s criticisms, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that he wouldn’t question the motive behind Mr. Cheney’s public words.

“I think Dick Cheney’s judgment about how to secure America is faulty,” Mr. Biden said. “I think our judgment is correct.”

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