Greenwald: Cheney setting up Obama in anticipation of another terrorist attack
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Thursday February 5, 2009

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In an interview with Politico published on Wednesday, former vice president Dick Cheney defended the Bush administration's use of torture and warrantless surveillance and suggested that unless the Obama administration maintains these policies, it risks a new "9/11-type event" that could "involve the deaths of perhaps hundreds of thousands of people."

"This argument is setting us up for the future," asserted MSNBC's Rachel Maddow on Wednesday evening. "If there is another attack, there's a reason to keep pushing this legacy ... so that there will be a political blowback against Barack Obama, so ... the country wouldn't rally around him they way they rallied around Bush and Cheney after 9/11."

Constitutional lawyer Glenn Greenwald, who had previously written about the Cheney interview in his blog at Salon, agreed with Maddow: "That's what's so nefarious. It's setting the groundwork if there is another terrorist attack."

"Why does it help Dick Cheney politically for him to be scary?" Maddow asked.

"There's really no more effective weapon for a government to keep a citizenry in submission to whatever it wants than keeping the fear level as high as possible," replied Greenwald.

Greenwald insisted, however, that it is "inane" for Cheney to argue -- and for his supporters in the media to accept -- that "there must be something to what they did, because after all they kept us safe" from a subsequent terrorist attack.

"What they're really saying," noted Greenwald, "is, 'During our administration, we allowed one catastrophic terrorist attack on US soil -- but don't worry, because we only allowed one.'"

In contrast, then-president Bill Clinton didn't use any of the Bush-Cheney methods following the first terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 1993, and yet, stated Greenwald, "for the next eight years of the Clinton presidency -- to use the jargon -- 'he kept us safe.'"

Greenwald added that the Cheney interview does provide an answer to the question Americans were asking in their bewilderment after 9/11, "Why do they hate us?"

"The things that he's saying are things like ... 'we need to be dirty, nasty, and mean in our foreign policy,'" said Greenwald. "'We need to launch wars in order to keep people respectful.'"

"Those things don't stop terrorism," Greenwald commented. "Those are the things that fuel terrorism."

This video is from MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show, broadcast Feb. 4, 2009.

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