Cheney: U.S. safer because of Bush’s ‘sound policies’
RENO (AP) – The United States has not been struck by terrorists since the Sept. 11 attacks because of the Bush administration’s “sound policies,” Vice President Dick Cheney said Monday.
Speaking to about 6,000 people at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention in Reno, the vice president maintained the U.S. has made “tremendous progress” in the war against terrorism.
He defended the war in Iraq as necessary in the overall war against terrorism and reaffirmed the administration’s position that U.S. troops would not withdraw until Iraqi forces were able to maintain order.
“The work is hard, perilous and ongoing,” Cheney said. “But we have made tremendous progress against an enemy that dwells in the shadows … No one can guarantee there won’t be another attack. But to have come this far without another attack is no accident.”
He attributed the lack of attacks to the administration’s “sound policies,” including its efforts to deny terrorists control of any country such as Iraq and Afghanistan that they could use as a base.
The vice president also criticized calls for a withdrawal of U.S. troops in Iraq and dismissed suggestions that a retreat would make terrorists leave the U.S. alone.
“Such retreat would convince terrorists once again that free nations will change our policy, forsake our friends and abandon our interests whenever we are confronted with violence and blackmail,” he said.
“A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq would be a victory for the terrorists, an invitation to further violence against free nations and a ruinous blow to the future security of the United States.”
Cheney also criticized as “just dead wrong” a federal court ruling that struck down the president’s warrantless domestic wiretapping program as unconstitutional.
“We’re confident it’ll be reversed on appeal,” he said.
As he spoke, about three dozen protesters outside the convention hall held placards with messages such as “Cheney, What Lies Will You Tell Today?” and “Support Our Troops – Real Service, Not Lip Service.”
“The war in Iraq is a total disaster,” said protester Elza Minton, 70, of Palomino Valley near Reno, an Army veteran. “Bush and Cheney are totally incapable of their jobs.”
Lisa Stiller of Reno, mother of an Army soldier serving in South Korea, criticized Bush and Cheney for their refusal to set a timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and for cutting veterans’ benefits.
“We call on our elected officials to end this illegal war, bring our troops home and spend no more money on death and destruction,” said Stiller, a member of the Reno Anti-war Coalition.
Inside, most members of the 1.8 million-member VFW expressed support for the administration’s war against terror.
The group’s national council earlier approved a resolution calling for U.S. forces to remain in Iraq in sufficient numbers until Iraqi forces can provide security.
“We can’t pull out,” said Vietnam veteran Bob Hardy of Somerville, Mass., a Democrat-turned-independent. “It’s better to fight them there than here. But this administration made a big mistake when they brought out the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”
Calvin W. McDonald, 67, of Vandalia, Ohio, said he supports the war in Iraq but thinks the Iraqis should shoulder more of the burden.
“We’re there for a cause and I think we’re doing the right thing,” said McDonald, a Korean and Vietnam veteran. “But the feeling about the war in my post is split about 50-50. I have some members who would just as soon walk out on this administration.”
Afterward, Cheney joined about 100 people at a campaign fundraiser at the Reno home of former state GOP Chairman John Mason.