In an interview on CNN's “State of the Union,” former Vice President Dick Cheney and his daughter, Liz Cheney, chairman of Keep America Safe, praised Obama for continuing a strong pursuit of al-Qaida, but said he should apologize for his earlier criticism of Bush-era anti-terrorism policies.
The Obama administration continued its winning streak against top al-Qaida operatives this week when a drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki.
As an American citizen, al-Awlaki played an important role in the al-Qaida network because of his ability to communicate in English with potential home-grown terrorists in the United States and the United Kingdom. Al-Awlaki was known to have inspired the Fort Hood shootings, the Times Square bomber, and the “underwear bomber.”
Al-Awlaki “motivated” and “enabled” al-Qaida “to go after” the United States, former CIA Director Michael Hayden said on “State of the Union.”
“So, in that sense, his death makes America much more safe.”
Some have criticized Obama for killing al-Awlaki without “due process.” As an American citizen, al-Awlaki must be found guilty in a court of law before he can be legally killed or captured, they argue. The Obama administration counters that al-Awlaki is an enemy combatant, and as in any war, can be killed as part of a military engagement.
Dick Cheney defended Obama's use of a drone strike against al-Awlaki.
“I think it was a very good strike,” Dick Cheney said. “I think it was justified. I think it was a very effective use of our drone technology.”
“There is a difference between a law enforcement action and a war. We are at war,” Dick Cheney argued.
Cheney thought that Obama's use of drone strikes and legal reasoning in defense of those strikes was a continuation of President George W. Bush’s policies. He criticized Obama, though, for his rhetoric regarding Bush-era policies two years ago at a speech in Cairo, Egypt.
“The thing I'm waiting for,” Dick Cheney added, “is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for quote, overreacting to the events of 9/11. They in effect said that we walked away from our ideals … when we had enhanced interrogation techniques. They clearly have moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it's justified.”
One area of disagreement between Dick Cheney and Obama is whether waterboarding is torture or enhanced interrogation. Obama has banned waterboarding, arguing that it is a form of torture.
“We were never torturing anybody in the first place,” Dick Cheney said.
“When the president of the United States goes onto foreign soil, talks about the United States abandoning our values, says that we tortured people. … He does real damage to our standing in the world,” Liz Cheney added.
Dick Cheney thought that Obama should apologize for his Cairo speech. Liz Cheney agreed, “I think he slandered the nation, and I think he owes an apology to the American people.”
Former Congresswoman Jane Harman (D-Calif.) was on “State of the Union” after the Cheneys and disagreed with the premise that Obama's continuation of Bush-era policies is inconsistent with Obama's criticism of some of those policies.
Harman said she “applauds” the use of an “aggressive counter-terrorism strategy” by the Obama administration, but the debate over the “legal grounds for that strategy should be more in the open.”
“We should have a legal framework around our interrogation and detention policies far more than we do right now,” Harman added.
Dick Cheney also said he agreed with Obama on allowing gays to serve openly in the military. “It's the right thing to do,” said Cheney, whose second daughter is openly lesbian.