'This Week' Transcript: Former Vice President Dick Cheney

But we got rid of one of the worst dictators of the 20th century. We took down his government, a man who'd produced and used weapons of mass destruction, a man who'd started two different wars, a man who had a relationship with terror. We're going to have a democracy in Iraq today. We do today. They're going to have another free election this March.

This has been an enormous achievement from the standpoint of peace and stability in the Middle East and ending a threat to the United States. Now, as I say, Joe Biden doesn't believe that. Joe Biden wants to take credit -- I'm not sure for what -- since he opposed that policy pretty much from the outset.

KARL: I think what he wants to take credit for is taking resources out of Iraq, the fact...

CHENEY: That's being done in accordance with a timetable that we initiated, that we -- that we negotiated with -- with the Iraqis. I mean, that was our policy.

KARL: Another thing from the vice president, he also addressed the possibility of another 9/11-style attack.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BIDEN: The idea of there being a massive attack in the United States like 9/11 is unlikely, in my view. But if you see what's happening, particularly with Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, they have decided to move in a direction of much more small-bore, but devastatingly frightening attacks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KARL: Is he right?

CHENEY: I don't think so. And I would point to a study that was released just within the last week or two up at the Kennedy School at Harvard by a gentleman -- Mowatt-Larssen's his name, I believe. He was CIA for 23 years, director of intelligence at the Energy Department for a long time, that looks at this whole question of weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaida and comes to the conclusion that there's a very high threat that Al Qaida is trying very hard to acquire a weapon of mass destruction and, if they're successful in acquiring it, that they will use it.

I think he's right. I think, in fact, the situation with respect to Al Qaida to say that, you know, that was a big attack we had on 9/11, but it's not likely again, I just think that's dead wrong. I think the biggest strategic threat the United States faces today is the possibility of another 9/11 with a nuclear weapon or a biological agent of some kind, and I think Al Qaida is out there even as we meet trying to figure out how to do that.

KARL: And do you think that the Obama administration is taking enough serious steps to prevent that?

CHENEY: I think they need to do everything they can to prevent it. And if the mindset is it's not likely, then it's difficult to mobilize the resources and get people to give it the kind of priority that it deserves.

KARL: OK, let's get to -- you mentioned Eric Holder, the treatment of the Christmas Day underwear bomber. How do you think that case should have been dealt with?

CHENEY: I think the -- the proper way to -- to deal with it would have been to treat him as an enemy combatant. I think that was the right way to go.

The thing I learned from watching that process unfold, though, was that the administration really wasn't equipped to deal with the aftermath of an attempted attack against the United States in the sense that they didn't know what to do with the guy.

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