Obama: Cheney ‘happens to be wrong’
In a interview with NPR Monday, President Barack Obama said that former Vice President Dick Cheney’s criticisms of U.S. terrorism policies were wrong.
A full transcript is available from NPR:
Norris: Mr. President, you have talked about creating a new path forward on Guantanamo, on the relationship that the U.S. has with countries in the Muslim world on several fronts. But, at the same time, the former vice president has been out talking about the policies in the former administration. He’s forceful, he’s unapologetic and he doesn’t seem willing to scale back his rhetoric. How much does that undermine or complicate your effort to extend a hand to explain the Obama doctrine and draw a line of demarcation between that administration and yours?
Obama: Well, he also happens to be wrong. (Chuckles.) Right? And last time, immediately after his speech, I think there was a fact-check on his speech that didn’t get a very good grade. Does it make it more complicated? No, because I think these are complicated issues and there is a legitimate debate to be had about national security. And I don’t doubt the sincerity of the former vice president or the previous administration in wanting to protect the American people. And these are very difficult decisions.
You know, if you’ve got a — as I said in my speech, if you’ve got an organization that is out to kill Americans and is not bound by any rules then that puts an enormous strain on not only our intelligence operations, our national security operations, but also our legal system. The one thing that I’m absolutely persuaded by, though, is that if we are true to our ideals and our values, if these decisions aren’t made unilaterally by the executive branch, but, rather, in consultation and in open fashion and in democratic debate, that the Muslim world and the world, generally, will see that we have upheld our values, been true to our ideals. And that ultimately will make us safer.
Norris: It’s unusual for the debate to be playing out in a public forum, though. Have you picked up the phone? Have you talked to him? Have you had a conversation?
Obama: Oh, I don’t think it’s that unusual. As I remember, there were some speeches given by Vice President Gore that differed with President Bush’s policies and I think that’s healthy; that’s part of the debate. And I don’t in any way begrudge, I think, anybody in debating sometimes ferociously these issues that are of preeminent importance to the United States. And I am constantly listening and gauging whether or not there’s new information out there that I should take into account.
I will tell you that, based on my reviews, I am very confident about the policies that we’ve taken being the right ones for the American people.
The following audio is NPR.com, broadcast on June 1, 2009.