Within two weeks of President Obama's inauguration, Dick Cheney said the new chief executive would likely get us killed. "When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry," the former vice president said.
David Corn today raises a point that bears repeating: given the Obama administration's successes on counter-terrorism, where'd Cheney go?
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama visited the National Counterterrorism Center outside Washington and declared that "because of our efforts" al Qaeda and its allies have "lost operational capacity." He cited recent arrests of terrorist suspects in Colorado, New York, Illinois, and Texas, asserting that these actions have made the nation safer. Afterward, his critics responded with ... silence. Since Obama was sworn in, conservative hawks, led by former Vice President Dick Cheney, have been pounding the president for being weak on national security, accusing him of leaving the country vulnerable to another catastrophic attack. But this chorus of scaremongers tends to go mute when the Obama administration scores apparent counterterrorism successes. Cheney, for instance, hasn't said anything publicly about the arrest last month of Najibullah Zazi, the Denver airport shuttle driver, and others accused of planning an al Qaeda bombing operation.
Nor have Cheney and his amen corner acknowledged other gains in the fight against al Qaeda.
If Bush/Cheney had put together the kind of successful counter-terrorism record we've seen over the last nine months, I suspect we'd be hearing quite a bit about it from Republican officials and their allies.
According to Nexis and Google searches, Cheney has made no public comment about the killing of any of these militant leaders and operatives. Nor have Cantor, Steele, or any other Republican leader. Nor have Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh. Certainly, it may be difficult for elected officials to discuss explicitly attacks not officially recognized by the White House, but none of these leading conservatives have acknowledged that the Obama administration has been racking up what are considered successes -- arrests at home, attacks overseas -- in the fight against al Qaeda and its allies.
Shouldn't these guys be reminding us right about now about how counter-terrorism only works through torture and lawlessness?
Where'd all the bravado and cheap shots from the Cheney gang go?
Steve Benen is "blogger in chief" of the popular Washington Monthly online blog, Political Animal. His background includes publishing The Carpetbagger Report, and writing for a variety of publications, including Talking Points Memo, The American Prospect, the Huffington Post, and The Guardian. He has also appeared on NPR's "Talk of the Nation," MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Air America Radio's "Sam Seder Show," and XM Radio's "POTUS '08."