The vice-president under the administration of George Bush, Obama’s predecessor, said the White House would also regret their commitment to close down the Guantanamo Bay prison camp in Cuba, where around 200 detainees are still held.
“If you release the hard-core al-Qaeda terrorists that are held at Guantanamo, I think they go back into the business of trying to kill more Americans and mount further mass-casualty attacks,” he said.
“If you turn them loose and they go kill more Americans, who’s responsible for that?”
Diplomacy ‘doesn’t work’
“I think they’re likely to find – just as we did – that lots of times the diplomacy doesn’t work”
Dick Cheney, former US vice-president
While he declined to criticise Obama personally, Cheney said he felt that instead of evaluating policies, Obama officials were simply following “campaign rhetoric” in preparing to release so-called terror suspects or grant them rights given to other defendants.
Cheney also said that while he believed that the new administration could prove more successful in some unspecified policy areas than under George Bush’s tenure they would soon find the issues they face “sobering”.
“They may be able, in some cases, to make progress diplomatically that we weren’t,” Cheney said.
“But, on the other hand, I think they’re likely to find – just as we did – that lots of times the diplomacy doesn’t work. Or diplomacy doesn’t work without there being an implied threat of something more serious if it fails.”
He also defended his actions while in power, including the creation of the Patriot Act, which critics say severely curtailed guaranteed US constitutional freedoms, Guantanamo Bay and the harsh interrogation of al-Qaeda suspects, something many have described as torture.
“The United States needs to be not so much loved as it needs to be respected,” he said.
“Sometimes, that requires us to take actions that generate controversy,” he said.
“I’m not at all sure that that’s what the Obama administration believes.”
The former vice-president has faced condemnation from global rights groups and opponents, who say he took part in the mishandling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and violated US constitutional guarantees and freedoms as part of the US so-called war on terror.
Cheney also told the newspaper that he is currently working on his memoirs from his time in office.