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Bill Adair
By Bill Adair January 3, 2010

Cheney says Obama won't admit the U.S. at war against terrorists

In his latest attack on President Barack Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney seized on the attempted bombing of a Detroit-bound jetliner to suggest that Obama is weak on terrorism.

"As I’ve watched the events of the last few days it is clear once again that President Obama is trying to pretend we are not at war," Cheney said. "He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if we bring the mastermind of Sept. 11 to New York, give him a lawyer and trial in civilian court, we won’t be at war.

"He seems to think if he closes Guantanamo and releases the hard-core al-Qaida-trained terrorists still there, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gets rid of the words, 'war on terror,' we won't be at war. But we are at war and when President Obama pretends we aren’t, it makes us less safe. Why doesn’t he want to admit we’re at war? It doesn’t fit with the view of the world he brought with him to the Oval Office. It doesn’t fit with what seems to be the goal of his presidency — social transformation — the restructuring of American society. President Obama’s first object and his highest responsibility must be to defend us against an enemy that knows we are at war."

Cheney's comments echo a frequent criticism by conservatives that President Obama does not use the phrase "war on terror." We rated that True when it was made by talk show host Sean Hannity in November 2009. We noted in our ruling that Obama had said he didn't use the more general phrase "war on terror" because he viewed the conflict as a war against "some terrorist organizations."

With his statement to Politico, Cheney is going further than Hannity did, directly alleging that Obama will not "admit we're at war."

But a review of Obama's statements of the past year makes it clear he has often said the United States is at war against terrorist organizations.

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The fifth paragraph of his inaugural address : "Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."

In a February 2009 CNN interview: "I think it is very important for us to recognize that we have a battle or a war against some terrorist organizations."

In a March 2009 speech: He said that people might ask why the United States is at war and said, "Al-Qaida and its allies, the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks, are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al-Qaida is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan."

In his December 2009 speech at West Point on his decision to send more troops to Afghanistan: He repeatedly called it a war and said, " I make this decision because I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al-Qaida."

In his speech accepting the Nobel Peace Prize: He said that "we are at war" and noted that "the world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense."

Cheney has offered lots of criticism of Obama in the past year (of the claims we've rated, Cheney has earned a True and a Mostly True ). His remarks here go beyond opinion because he repeatedly says that Obama won't acknowledge that the United States is at war. But even a cursory examination of Obama's statements shows this one is preposterous. Obama has often said the United States is at war against terrorist organizations -- and has ordered a massive increase in U.S. troops in Afghanistan to fight that war. So Cheney's comment isn't just False, it's ridiculously so. Pants on Fire!

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Cheney says Obama won't admit the U.S. at war against terrorists

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