Cheney Responds to Panetta - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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Cheney Responds to Panetta

Dick Cheney released a statement responded to CIA Director Leon Panetta's suggestion that the former vice president's criticism of Obama administration policies means Cheney is wishing for another attack.

"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."

Panetta was quoted in a lengthy profile by Jane Mayer in this week's New Yorker.

“I think he smells some blood in the water on the national-security issue,” he told me. “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. I think that’s dangerous politics.”

While that quote has understandably received lots of attention, there is another passage that deserves scrutiny.

Mayer reports that Panetta once supported a so-called "truth commission" and she examines his motivation. She writes:

It turns out, however, that Panetta initially supported the creation of a truth commission. “I’m not big on commissions,” Panetta told me. “On the other hand, I could see that it might make some sense, frankly, to appoint a high-level commission, with somebody like Sandra Day O’Connor, Lee Hamilton—people like that.” The appeal was that Obama could delegate to others the legal problems stemming from Bush Administration actions, allowing him to focus on his ambitious political agenda. “In the discussion phase”—early in the spring, before Obama decided the issue—“I was for it,” Panetta said. “Because every time a question came up, you could basically say, ‘The commission, hopefully, is looking at this.’ ” But by late April Obama had vetoed the idea, fearing that it would look vindictive and, possibly, inflame his predecessor. “It was the President who basically said, ‘If I do this, it will look like I’m trying to go after Cheney and Bush,’ ” Panetta said. “He just didn’t think it made sense. And then everybody kind of backed away from it.”
(Emphasis added.)

So, Panetta was for a truth commission so Obama's "ambitious political agenda" would not be derailed? Imagine the reaction if say, Porter Goss had said something like that.

I expect that we'll hear more about Panetta in the coming weeks. I've heard from two plugged-in intelligence sources that the rift between Panetta and Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair has escalated into a serious feud. Blair is seeking to expand the role of his directorate and Panetta, reflecting the concern of some at Langley that Obama is seeking to marginalize the Agency, is defending his turf.

One source said that he expects the tensions to "boil over" in the next week or two.

Update: At his press gaggle, Robert Gibbs was asked: "Does the President agree with Director Panetta's assessment that Vice President -- former Vice President Cheney almost wants another attack to happen?"

Gibbs replied: "Well, look, I'm not going to get into motivations. That's not what our business is. The President's concern is keeping the American people safe. We've had policy disagreements, but I think what is true for anybody is doing what's -- doing what we need to to keep the American people safe and secure. That's what the President is working on every day."

The Weekly Standard

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