President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.
In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.
"I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election."
Cheney also asserted that Obama has learned that the prison at Guantanamo Bay simply cannot be closed, despite the promises he made while campaigning for the White House.
"I think he's learned that he's not going to be able to close Guantanamo," Cheney said. "That it's — if you didn't have it, you'd have to create one like that. You've got to have some place to put terrorists who are combatants who are bound and determined to try to kill Americans."
Cheney made the comments about Obama in an interview that is set to air Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” The interview was Cheney's first since before he underwent heart surgery in July. Doctors introduced a device into his heart that pumps blood from the ventricle chamber to his aorta.
The former vice president cited the Obama administration’s expanded use of drones in Pakistan as more evidence of continuity from the policies of the Bush White House.
"As I say, I think he's found it necessary to be more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did," Cheney said. "They've gotten active, for example, with the drone program, using Predator and the Reaper to launch strikes against identified terrorist targets in the various places in the world."
Cheney also weighed in during the interview on the Arizona shooting that left six people dead and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.). Cheney was cautious about what role heated political rhetoric played in the shooting.
"I think the event was caused by a deranged individual. And — that's where we ought to look in terms of trying to assess guilt," Cheney said.
But Cheney also said that it was important not to squelch spirited political debate in the shooting’s aftermath.
"I don't think we should anticipate that we can somehow take a system that was designed for political combat, if you will, between the parties, between ideas, between principles and set that aside. I wouldn't want to do that," Cheney said. "That's the heart and soul of our political system. And that's basically a good thing."
Cheney also confirmed an account from President George W. Bush's recently released memoir, “Decision Points,” that he had offered to resign multiple times during his administration.
"I didn't wanna stand in the way if, in fact, that kind of decision would enhance the president's prospects of winning reelection in 2004 when he was up against John Kerry," Cheney said. "And I thought he ought to have the freedom to change anybody he wanted, including me."