Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday strongly defended the recently exposed U.S. surveillance programs, which he helped craft in the aftermath of 9/11, but sharply criticized President Obama for his handling of a range of issues from the Syrian civil war to the Benghazi terror attacks.
Cheney, a Republican vice president from 2001 to 2009 under the Bush administration, told “Fox News Sunday” the National Security Agency-led programs have to remain confidential to keep the information from enemies and that he and other U.S. intelligence officials were concerned about a nuclear attack.
“It was 19 guys with box cutters and airplane tickets,” but the next time it could have been a “nuclear attack,” the 72-year-old Cheney said.
He said former NSA contractor Edward Snowden exposing the gathering of information of phone calls and emails has done “enormous damage” to the United State’s anti-terror programs and called Snowden a “traitor.”
Cheney also said top Capitol Hill lawmakers participated in the drafting of the Patriot Act.
“We did it in my office in the West Wing,” he said.
Cheney also said the lawmakers advised him not to seek further congressional oversight for fear of leaks and argued that 9/11 attacks in which terrorists killed roughly 3,000 people by hijacking commercial jets and slamming them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center likely could have been foiled had the surveillance plan already been in place.
Cheney’s strongest criticism was directed at Obama.
“I’m obviously not a fan,” he told Fox.
Cheney said the president has not been “standup” and “forthright” about the Sept. 11, 2012, terror attacks on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya, in which U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed.
The sharpest criticism has been about whether the administration had adequate security before the attacks, made every attempt to rescue the Americans and about why officials in the aftermath of the attacks scrub intelligence information suggesting they were terror related and instead said they were sparked by an anti-Islamic video.
Cheney acknowledge the two-year Syrian war in which rebels are trying to overthrow the regime of President Bashar Assad in a complex situation, but said it has not been “well handled” by the administration and that Obama “lacks credibility.” Read more via Fox News...