WASHINGTON – Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush administration's worldwide strategy against terrorism from Democratic critics Monday night and said American casualties in Afghanistan are lamentable but their cause is a just one.
Twice, Cheney refused to say who he had in mind. But Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., has recently criticized President Bush for not defining the parameters of the war, even as it expands to include more countries.
"Some of our friends on [Capitol] Hill have questioned us about the strategy ... on the war on terror," Cheney said at a campaign event for Sen. John Warner, R-Va., in suburban McLean, Va.
"I think I would suggest to them, and I won't name any names here, but the president has been abundantly clear on the subject of who the enemy is. I can't remember the last time we ever had as direct-spoken a president as we have today," Cheney said.
Daschle has faulted the administration for what he sees as lack of a clear direction in the war.
"We really don't know what the direction is, frankly. We talk about going into Yemen. We're talking now about going into the Philippines and other places," Daschle said on Fox News Sunday.
"... Before we go into a lot of these other locations, I think it is important for us to better understand what our purpose is, how long will we be there, how many troops will be there, how does it affect our efforts in Afghanistan."
Cheney also defended Bush's use of the phrase "axis of evil" to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea. The choice of words sparked massive protests in Iran and North Korea, and strong questioning from moderates working for U.S. support in all three nations.
"When he talked about an axis of evil in his State of the Union speech there was hand-wringing in certain corners, but I think most Americans found it refreshing to have a president who would tell the truth — and tell it exactly like it is," Cheney said
The vice president, who has been kept in secret locations for long periods of time since the Sept. 11 attacks, also addressed the American casualties suffered over the weekend.
Cheney said those fighting Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Afghanistan "do so knowing that, in fact, lives are being saved here at home every hour and every day they spend in combat in Afghanistan."