It was reported yesterday that, in an interview with the New Yorker, CIA director Leon Panetta accused former Vice-President Dick Cheney of hoping that the U.S. is attacked by terrorists:
“I think he smells some blood in the water on the national security issue,” Panetta said in an interview published in The New Yorker magazine’s June 22 issue.
“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.”
What evidence did Panetta cite to support his sensational (and libelous) allegation? Well, none, actually. There is another obvious possibility: Cheney doesn’t want his country to be attacked, and therefore has sounded a warning in hopes that it will be heeded. On its face, that is a much more likely and straightforward explanation of Cheney’s criticisms of the Obama administration’s security policies. What reason does Panetta offer to reject this obvious and benign explanation? None whatsoever.
Panetta wasn’t done:
Panetta called Cheney’s actions “dangerous politics.”
It seems clear that, in fact, it is Panetta who is playing politics, trying to delegitimize a policy debate which the administration has been losing. This is particularly disgraceful given Panetta’s role as CIA Director. He has, it appears, reverted to his former roles as Democratic Congressman, Chief of Staff in the Clinton White House, and Democratic Party attack dog. It’s a shame, and he owes Cheney an apology.