Cheney mixes up Obama, Osama

Former Vice President Dick Cheney confused the president of the United States with the world's most-wanted terrorist in a speech on Monday.

Speaking at the National Press Club, Cheney answered a question as to why his administration had not caught Osama bin Laden. But in a faux pas certain to end up on cable news networks and late-night talk shows, Cheney transposed bin Laden's name with that of the current president.

"I believe he's still out there someplace," Cheney said of bin Laden. "I'm sure the current administration will continue to search for him. He's an important figure, obviously. We would have loved to have captured on our watch. We didn't. I'm sure the Obama people feel the same way.

"The important thing is that I don't think he can have much impact in terms of managing an organization, because that link between Obama [sic] and the people under him is pretty fragile. I don't think he has the capacity to do as much harm as he did at one point, but we ought to still continue to chase him."

Cheney kept up his near-constant critiques of the Obama administration, which he has accused of making the United States weaker. Cheney renewed his assertion that Obama's decision to release memos outlining the enhanced interrogation techniques some have called torture has harmed national security interests.

And the former vice president renewed his call for the release of memos he said would illustrate attacks that had been prevented through the use of such interrogation methods.

"The president has the authority to declassify anything he wants. He is the ultimate declassification authority for the federal government," Cheney said. "The declassification of those documents would serve a public purpose and would help to enlighten the debate and would give the American people a broader basis upon which to make a determination."

Despite a newly nuclear North Korea and a regime in Iran that continues to build its nuclear processing capabilities, Cheney defended the Bush administration's record in making the world safer. He pointed to the end of a network of nuclear technology proliferation run by Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, but he admitted the administration wasn't perfect.

"We didn't bat 1.000, no question about it," Cheney said.

Cheney also defended the use of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, saying the Obama administration is running into the same problems as the Bush administration, which also could not come up with a plan for what to do with prisoners after the facility closed.

"I think it's going to be very difficult to close Guantanamo. The current administration is finding that out," Cheney said. "I haven't seen a lot of members of Congress stand up and say, 'Oh yeah, I'll take a dozen.' It's not going to happen.

"It's a good facility. And if you're going to be engaged in a world conflict, as we are in terms of the global war on terrorism, if you don't have a place where you can hold these people, your only other option is to kill them. And we don't operate that way."

Cheney also said he was "worried" about the federal government's takeover of General Motors, which filed for bankruptcy early Monday. He suggested government operation of a major corporation could put politics into the business world.

"When it's time, for example, to make a decision to close a plant in City X and open up a new plant in City Y, there will be cries of outrage," he said.

Cheney also seemed to suggest he is not as opposed to same-sex marriage as other Republicans. Cheney's daughter is gay, and the former vice president said the issue should be left up to the states instead of the federal government.

"I think freedom means freedom for everyone," he said. "People ought to be free to enter into any kind of union they wish, any kind of arrangement they wish.

"The question of whether or not there ought to be a general statute that governs this, I don't support. I do believe, historically, the way marriage has been regulated is at a state level. It's always been a state issue, and I think that's the way it ought to be handled today," he said.