Cheney resurfaces, warns of new terrorist attacks

Former Vice President Dick Cheney comes out swinging, saying he believes President Obama's policies are putting Americans at risk.

By Alex Koppelman

Published February 4, 2009 2:45PM (EST)

Dick Cheney isn't vice president anymore, but he's apparently not ready to leave the political spotlight just yet. In fact, he's leaping back into it, defending his actions during the Bush administration and slamming the new administration for the breaks it has made with the past, laying a foundation of blame in the event terrorists strike the U.S. again.

"When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an Al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," Cheney said in an interview with Politico. He added that protecting the country is "a tough, mean, dirty, nasty business... These are evil people. And we’re not going to win this fight by turning the other cheek."

Cheney specifically criticized the decision to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying President Obama is just making good on "campaign rhetoric" instead of "sitting down and carefully evaluating the policies.” He cited the 61 former detainees who've allegedly "gone back into the business of being terrorists," pointing out that their recidivism rate is about 11 percent.

As I've noted before, however, that rate is actually pretty low by comparison. Inmates released from U.S. state prisons have a recidivism rate of about 65 percent. And even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, originally a Bush appointee, says the actual Guantanamo recidivism rate, counting only those actually confirmed to have returned to the battlefield, is four percent.

Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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