Saturday, March 21, 2009

Obama criticizes Cheney's approach to terrorism in '60 Minutes' interview

LA TIMES -- President Obama, rejecting former Vice President Dick Cheney's contention that he has put the nation at greater risk of terrorism, suggests in a "60 Minutes" interview that the previous administration's stance was an "advertisement for anti-American sentiment."

"How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney?" Obama asks. "It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment."

The interview, which the CBS program says is Obama's longest since taking office, is scheduled to air Sunday evening. The interview is edited down from a 90-minute session taped Friday evening.

The president also defends Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner against growing criticism of the government's handling of the financial crisis. If Geithner were to tender his resignation, Obama says he would tell him: "Sorry, buddy, you've still got the job."

Cheney, who has been outspoken in his criticism of the Obama administration, said on CNN's "State of the Union" last Sunday that Obama has increased the nation's risk of terrorist attacks by jettisoning key elements of the Bush administration's aggressive approach.

Since taking office, Obama has announced plans to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility; banned waterboarding; ordered the closure of secret interrogation sites; and ordered CIA interrogators to abide by rules in the Army Field Manual.

"Now he is making some choices that, in my mind, will, in fact, raise the risk to the American people of another attack, Cheney said of Obama.

Former President George W. Bush has shied away from criticizing his successor, explaining in Calgary, Canada, on Tuesday during his first paid speech since leaving office that Obama "deserves my silence."

Asked by CBS' Steve Kroft about releasing prisoners who have returned to terrorist groups, Obama replies: "There is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals . . . to make sure [they] are not a threat to us."

Yet, the president maintains, the Bush administration's policy on detainees at Guantanamo -- including long incarcerations without trial -- was "unsustainable."..............

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