Former Vice President Dick Cheney applauded the U.S. drone strike that killed American-born al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki but added that President Obama now owed the Bush administration an apology for claiming they “overreacted to 9/11.”
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Cheney said Obama was inconsistent for criticizing the former administration’s approach to terrorism while also using “some of the same techniques the Bush administration did.”
“We developed the technique and the technology for it,” said Cheney of the drone strike that killed Awlaki.
Cheney took particular issue with the administration’s reluctance to describe the fight against al Qaeda as a “war” and Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo where he walked back from many Bush administration policies.
“The thing I'm waiting for is for the administration to go back and correct something they said two years ago when they criticized us for 'overreacting' to the events of 9/11,” said Cheney. “They, in effect, said that we had walked away from our ideals, or taken policies contrary to our ideals when we had enhanced interrogation techniques.”
“Now they clearly had moved in the direction of taking robust action when they feel it is justified. I say in this case I think it was, but I think they need to go back and reconsider what the president said when he was in Cairo,” he added.
"If you've got the president of the United States out there saying we overreacted to 9/11 on our watch, that's not good," said Cheney.
When asked by CNN host Candy Crowley if Cheney expected an apology from the president, the former vice president said, “Well, I would. I think that would be not for me, but I think for the Bush administration, and that he misspoke when he gave that speech in Cairo two years ago.”
His daughter Liz Cheney, co-founder of Keep America Safe, a national security advocacy group, agreed and rebuked the president for his earlier criticism of enhanced interrogation techniques.
“I think he did tremendous damage. I think he slandered the nation and I think he owes an apology to the American people. Those are the policies that kept us safe,” she said.
“We know now Leon Panetta has said some of the intelligence we gained through that program helped us identify the location of bin Laden. So I think the president owes everybody an apology, frankly.”
Cheney praised the strike however and defended the president’s decision. “I do think this was a good strike. I think the president ought to have that kind of authority to order that kind of strike, even when it involves an American citizen when there is clear evidence that he's part of al Qaeda, planning, cooperating and supporting attacks against the United States,” he said.
Awlaki was an influential leader in al Qaeda. But the Obama administration’s decision to authorize the killing of the American-born cleric led to criticism from civil rights advocates who said he should have received a trial in American court.
“I think you've got to go through the process internally, making certain it's reviewed by the appropriate people in the Justice Department, that they take a good, careful look at it. But I think they did all of that in this case. And I think the president has all the authority he needs to order this kind of strike,” said Cheney.