CIA Director Leon Panetta Smears Dick Cheney

CIA Director Leon Panetta made a loathsome comment about former vice president Dick Cheney when he accused him of hoping we get hit with a terrorist attack in order to prove he is right. If that’s what Dick Cheney secretly wanted, he would have kept his mouth shut these past few weeks because Obama has been taking our national security back to a September 10th mind set:

CIA director Leon Panetta says it’s almost as if former vice president Dick Cheney would like to see another attack on the United States to prove he is right in criticizing President Barack Obama for abandoning the “harsh interrogation” of terrorism suspects.

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

“It’s almost, a little bit, gallows politics. 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.”

Cheney, who was a key advocate in the Bush administration of controversial interrogation methods such as waterboarding, has become as a leading Republican critic of Obama’s ban on harsh interrogations and his plan to shut the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Director Panetta’s comment was not only in quite shocking, but it was also irresponsible. Former Vice President Cheney knows of what he speaks. He was the only vice president who previously served as a Secretary of Defense. He also served as President Ford’s chief of staff, so he brought with him years of dedicated service to our country and great experience as vice president. To accuse him of secretly hoping we get attacked again is just outrageous.

Naturally, many people are infuriated. Andy McCarthy at The Corner is spot on:

Beyond that, let me say this much about this galactically offensive remark. Democrats have been politicizing our national security, on an unprecedented scale from a major political party, for eight years. I suppose, then, that there’s nothing new here other than the fact that Panetta is infected, which shows how deeply the disease has spread. But the stupidity of the remark is, to me, as alarming as the politicization of national security.

Vice President Cheney had low personal popularity polls because he didn’t respond to the Left’s turning him into Darth Vader — they went for political advantage, he worked to keep the country safe. Every time he’s gone public on something, he’s done so reluctantly, and it’s been because it was important to defend an essential part of the strategy to keep the country safe — and he’s won those public debates.

So here’s the commonsense question: Why would someone who did not care about his public popularity standings when it would have been in his personal interests to pay more attention to that stuff, and who did not care precisely because he thought it was more important to protect the country, NOW decide that he wanted Americans to die so he could prove a policy point?

Obviously, he wouldn’t.

Today, former Vice President Cheney responded:

I hope my old friend Leon was misquoted. The important thing is whether the Obama administration will continue the policies that have kept us safe for the last eight years.

I can’t imagine I’d be as calm in my response if someone had said that about me. Instead, it was Senator McCain who came out swinging:

CIA Director Leon Panetta should immediately retract comments he made to the New Yorker magazine suggesting former Vice President Cheney is wishing for another terrorist attack on the U.S., Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) demanded Monday.

“I disagreed with the Cheney policy on interrogation techniques, but never did it cross my mind that Dick Cheney would ever want an attack on the United States of America,” the former Republican presidential candidate said during an appearance on Fox News. “It’s unfair, and I think that Mr. Panetta should retract, and retract immediately.”

Indeed he should. Although he’s not retracting officially, a CIA spokesman is backpedaling:

A CIA spokesman is sharply downplaying Director Leon Panetta ‘s recent comments that appear to question whether former Vice President Dick Cheney is hoping for another terrorist attack against the United States.

“The Director does not believe the former Vice President wants an attack,” CIA spokesman Paul Gimigliano said in a statement to CNN. “He did not say that. He was simply expressing his profound disagreement with the assertion that President Obama’s security policies have made our country less safe. Nor did he question anyone’s motives.”

Yes, he did.

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