Published January 18, 2011
President Obama has started to come around to the Bush administration's way of thinking when it comes to fighting terrorism, former Vice President Dick Cheney said in an interview aired Tuesday.
Cheney, who two years ago accused Obama of endangering America by dismantling controversial counterterror policies from the Bush administration, said he's since observed Obama become "more sympathetic to the kinds of things we did." In the interview with NBC News, Cheney repeatedly said the president has "learned" while in office the value of programs ranging from Predator drone strikes to the Guantanamo Bay detainee camp.
"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," Cheney said in the interview with NBC News. "So I think he's learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election."
The Obama administration has stuck by a few key reversals of Bush administration national security policy, most notably in ending the use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques. But it has continued to use military tribunals and so far has stalled on its campaign to shutter Guantanamo Bay. Cheney said he doesn't expect Guantanamo Bay to close.
"I think he's learned that he's not going to be able to close Guantanamo. ... 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 said.
The former vice president also discussed in depth his heart problems. Cheney, 69, suffered a heart attack last year, his fifth since the age of 37. He had bypass surgery in 1988, as well as two subsequent angioplasties to clear narrowed coronary arteries.
He said he's getting by now on a battery-powered heart pump, which makes it "awkward to walk around." He also says he hasn't made a decision yet on a transplant, but adds that "the technology is getting better and better."
"I'll have to make a decision at some point whether I want to go for a transplant," he said.
In 2001, he had a special pacemaker implanted in his chest. In addition, doctors in 2008 restored a normal rhythm to his heart with an electric shock. That was the second time in less than a year that he had experienced and been treated for an atrial fibrillation, an abnormal rhythm involving the upper chambers of the heart.
On another matter, Cheney complimented Obama on his handling of the Tucson shooting rampage. Cheney says, "I'm not an Obama supporter by nature, but I thought it was one of his better efforts."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.