Former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney, a critic of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy, said he gives the president “high marks” for ordering the operation that killed Osama bin Laden.
“There’s no question that was his responsibility and I think he handled it well,” Cheney said in an interview aired today on the “Fox News Sunday” program. “I give him high marks for making that decision.”
U.S. Navy SEALs raided a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, on May 2 and killed bin Laden, capping a decade-long pursuit of the al-Qaeda leader. Obama called the raid “one of the greatest intelligence and military operations in our nation’s history.”
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told CBS’s “Face the Nation” program today that Obama’s choice to go ahead with the raid was “the right decision.” He said the coordination between intelligence officials and the special operations forces was “absolutely perfection.”
At the same time, Rumsfeld said he would have preferred White House officials speak less about the intelligence cache the U.S. took from the al-Qaeda leader’s Pakistan compound.
“The people in the Pentagon worry about the lives of the men and women who serve, and the more information that goes out about intelligence, the greater the risks to our people and the less likelihood we’re going to be able to capture or kill some of the people who would result from the intelligence take there,” Rumsfeld said.
“Not Clear” on Libya
While complimentary of Obama’s decision to order the raid on bin Laden’s compound, Cheney remained critical of the administration’s role in the conflict in Libya, the future of the war in Afghanistan and stance on interrogation techniques.
“I’ve been confused by it,” Cheney said of U.S. role in Libya. “It’s not clear what the policy is.”
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led forces are in the midst of an air campaign over Libya against Muammar Qaddafi’s forces in support of rebels battling the country’s leader.
“NATO only functions effectively when the United States is involved to lead NATO,” Cheney said. “It looks as though what the policy of the administration has been is to hope for Qaddafi’s departure, but not be prepared to do enough to make it happen.”
Cheney also said he had concerns that the administration may use bin Laden’s death as a reason to pull out of the war in Afghanistan.
War in Afghanistan
“I’m a bit concerned that we’re now going to see a situation where because we’ve got bin Laden, there will be a rush to get out of Afghanistan,” Cheney said. “I’m not sure that’s wise at all.”
Cheney defended the Bush administration’s enhanced interrogation programs, including waterboarding, saying that the techniques had been effective in protecting the country while President George W. Bush was in office and he was concerned that those programs had been “taken off the table.”
“It’s not clear to me today if we still have an interrogation program that we could put somebody through should we capture a high-value detainee that had crucial information,” Cheney said.
Rumsfeld also said that the interrogations techniques used by the Central Intelligence Agency had worked and that ruling them out “may be a mistake.”