Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Saturday night blasted President Obama’s national security nominees as “second-rate people.”
“The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal,” said Cheney in an address to members of the Wyoming Republican Party, according to a report from CBS.
Obama tapped former Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), who was confirmed by the Senate last month in a 94-3 vote, to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of State.
But other choices for the national security team face a tougher fight.
Former Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), Obama’s Defense nominee, has faced heated opposition from GOP lawmakers over his views on Israel and Iran. Republican lawmakers have also demanded more financial information from groups linked to Hagel, delaying a committee vote.
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) on Friday, though, blasted those demands for more information and vowed a panel vote “as soon as possible.” Only two GOP senators have said they will support Hagel’s nomination and many have not ruled out a filibuster.
Cheney said that Hagel had been tapped because the president wanted “a Republican that he can use to take the heat for what he plans to do to the Department of Defense.”
Cheney said Obama would enact severe defense cuts that could weaken the military’s capabilities, “establishing what limitations will be on future presidents.”
Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser John Brennan, nominated to the CIA directorship, faced tough grilling from senators last week on the administration’s use of armed drone strikes against American citizens abroad.
Cheney has been a frequent critic of the administration’s national security polices, calling Obama one of our “weakest” presidents.