White House hits back at Cheney “dithering” comment

October 22, 2009

AFGHANISTAN-CHENEY/The White House is firing back at former Vice President Dick Cheney who accused President Barack Obama of “dithering” and being “afraid to make a decision” on whether to send more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

“I think it’s a curious comment,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at his midday briefing.

“I think it’s pretty safe to say that the Vice President was for seven years not focused on Afghanistan,” Gibbs added.

“Even more curious, given the fact that (an) increase in troops sat on desks in this White House, including the vice president’s, for more than eight months, a resource request filled by President Obama in March,” he said.

Speaking to the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think-tank, Cheney said the White House needed to “stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.”

“Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission,” Cheney said. AFGHANISTAN-PAKISTAN/USA

General Stanley McChrystal, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has recommended a troop increase of 40,000. Obama has been holding a series of policy meetings with his top advisers to review the request and has said he wants to make a thorough review of the strategy before deciding whether to approve more troops.

“What Vice President Cheney calls ‘dithering,’ President Obama calls his solemn responsibility to the men and women in uniform and to the American public,” Gibbs said. “I think we’ve all seen what happens when somebody doesn’t take that responsibility seriously.”

What do you think? Is Obama “dithering” as Cheney says, or acting in a thorough manner as the White House says?

Click here for more Reuters political coverage

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS/Pool (Cheney in Kabul in March 2008), REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque (Obama with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House in May)

45 comments

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

Cheney’s a corrupt fool is willing to kill American soldiers in his rush to the bank to deposit his personal financial gain.

Posted by csodak | Report as abusive

Cheney had his chance to fight for his country back during Vietnam but instead he cut and run with his five deferments. He had his chance to do something about Afghanistan while he was VP but instead he put his efforts into invading Iraq, a country with no capability to hurt the US. He had his chance to affect the US stance in Afghanistan again but again he cut and run instead of standing for election as president in 2008 as vice presidents normally do. Dick, that’s about what you know.

Posted by borisjimbo | Report as abusive

Csodak

What evidence do you have to back up your assertion that Dick Cheney has killed American warriors to fatten his bank account? That’s a heinous accusation, if true. Do you have the slightest bit of anything resembling evidence? Show your work.

It’s very tempting to just blow off Dick Cheney’s latest harangue. He’s just a failed former vice president whose ideas have already been discredited, and whose catastrophic record on national security issues is pretty obvious.
It’s worth noting from the outset that Cheney and the most recent administration left the mess in Afghanistan for President Obama to clean up. Hearing the guy who screwed up tell the Commander in Chief, “Hurry up and mop faster” is more than a little disturbing.
For that matter, Cheney wants to see Obama “do what it takes to win”? That’s a fine idea — too bad Cheney didn’t follow that advice when he was running the previous administration. Conditions in Afghanistan were stable and improving when Bush/Cheney decided it was time to launch an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq, making it easier for the Taliban to regroup and go on the offensive.
The White House isn’t sending “signals of indecision”; the White House is doing what Cheney failed to do: come up with a strategic plan for the future of U.S. policy in Afghanistan. In Grown-Up Land, it’s the former vice president who “dithered” his way through eight years in Afghanistan. Taking a few weeks to come up with a coherent plan doesn’t put U.S. troops “in danger”; listening to Dick Cheney puts U.S. troops “in danger.”

Posted by Steve | Report as abusive

It is ironical that Mr Transparency asked the Bush Whitehouse to let him have a copy of an indepth security strategy study that Bush had authorized in 2008,excuse to help Obama,s team to transition when they took office.ONLY PROVISO WAS THAT THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WOULD NOT BE TOLD!Now they have the audacity to suggest that the Bush team had handed them a mop instead, what a joke!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Dick…Dick…Dick
When are you going to leave Washington and go home like
ALL the former EX-VP’s have done with grace.I think i hear your wife calling you,she must miss you while your still trying to hang on to something invisible.Theres
nothing for you to do here but stir up trouble and we all know you are good at that.
President Barack Obama does not need your advice about
anything going on in his administration,If he did i think he would call VP Joe Biden,as he is the one that President Obama calls to do what he needs him to do.
So we all think it is safe for you to go on home to your wife and retire like a good EX-VP should.
Dont you have a book to write?
POTUS will do as he sees fit to do, to keep us all safe.
He knows what he’s doing and does not need any help from you at all.See Ya,Dont make us have to call your wife to come pick you up.Your not looking to healthy right now,i
noticed you leaning on the podium today,I wish you good health and enjoy your retirement…

Posted by janey | Report as abusive

Please take the time to read this, and consider putting it to debate.

Ethical standards & aptitude test for politicians

SOCIOCULTURAL EVOLUTION; One of the most important changes that could take place in the 21st century, would be to see it been made a mandatory requirement, that politicians have to study human and social interactions. Therefore gaining the fundamental qualifications that are most relevant to their vocation before standing in a major elections; for example a qualification in the understanding of social conflict, or at least the study of one or more of the social sciences would be a step in the right direction. Its a shame that a doctor has to study for 7years before becoming qualified, if he makes a mistake killing someone in his carer, he’s in big trouble!… Yet a politician who can mess up society, inflame racial hatred’ start wars displacing hundreds of thousands of people, needs no qualification in the field of understanding people. He can even be elected upon charismatic ability alone. All too often with little accountability to match the scale his mistakes…

What a different world we could live in if someone in the media could have the courage & strength to break the mold & start this ball rolling…

I’d like to see changes in the way we approach politics, especially at the UN level. I don’t trust the idea of the gifted amateur. I want my politicians to have a good all round knowledge of the way the world works before s/he is allowed anywhere near political office. And i’d like this verified, whether it be through, Proof of study, Relevant life experience or passing a test in ‘ethical standards & aptitude’ for politicians.
Even vets must have qualifications to ensure s/he doesn’t harm animals before s/he is allowed to treat them for their medical conditions. Doctors must be qualified before being allowed to deal with people’s medical conditions. We are rightly concerned that animals and humans are treated well to cure them. The aim is to enhance lives at a physical or an emotional level.
It seems strange to me that we expect professional expertise at the level of the individual, but at the societal level, we rely on the “gifted amateur” to settle international disputes that could lead to civil unrest between races or even war. We entrust countries and their peoples to the care of politicians who may know nothing at all about political history or the ways societies function. It is felt that their very amateur status is a good thing. So an ex-maths teacher may suddenly be in charge of foreign affairs. S/he may know nothing at all about the countries of the world, their traditions, their cultures, their histories and yet we trust such a person to recommend a course of action in often terrifying situations where war may be the outcome if (avoidable) bad decisions are made. I find that scary. By analogy, it is like asking a witch doctor to perform a heart transplant – nowhere near qualified enough! No matter how charismatic he is, or how big of a following this has brought him/her.
Why not set the wheels in motion to make all would-be (major league politicians) study politics and societies and current affairs in the world before they are judged competent to seek office. Is that really such a bad idea?

Many of the worlds most serious problems, Wars, Starvation, Energy Crisis, Social Injustices, Rouge Dictators, Political Blunders. often have a common obstacle in the way of the global efforts needed for their solutions.
Our Leaders & those who have the power to influence change are extremely inefficient in doing so, as they often lack the relevant experience & therefore are rarely on the same page to begin with. So many suffer the cost of this!
Its like attempting to build a house with random people, instead of employing a skilled team, just imagine the inefficiency & squabbling!

Posted by Ian Hamilton | Report as abusive

Some men have a life premise, some men have a death premise.

Posted by Casper | Report as abusive

As much as the white house doesn’t like the truth being told, Cheney is right on the money. Fortunately, he is not scared of the Obama administration. He is a citizen and has all the rights. He is telling American the truth and obviously, the Obama people just can’t stand such a thing. As far as they are concerned, Bush did nothing right and Obama is the Messiah. He can do not wrong, so to give credit, of any kind, to another president, is the same as treason! Cheney can not be telling the truth!
He was supposed to keep his mouth shut and let Obama have all the credit! I hope Cheny runs for office the next time around. At least we would have a person in the white house who is not affraid of telling the truth!!!

Posted by hankster6 | Report as abusive

Dick was never afraid to make a decision, especially if it meant that Halliburton would profit form providing contracting services to the US military. Simple dollar and cents equasion there. The Iraq decision took less than a day and had a simply fabulous outcome (for Halliburton, anyhow).
Dick doesn’t seem to understand that no military support will be of any use if the country’s government cannot support itself. If we prop it up (just like Vietnam and Iraq), no victory is possible, regardless of how much money or soldiers we throw at it. The military solution is short term, but without a political solution in a self-supporting Kabul, no long term solution is possible. Playing out those options takes more than a ‘gut call’ from a hidden bunker in an undisclosed location.

Posted by Ceasar | Report as abusive

Chaney? Chaney? See, I’ve even forgotten how to spell his name. Any remote possibility of completely forgetting him as well?

Posted by Stephanie | Report as abusive

Cheney and Rumsfeld should be taken out behind the barn–you do not want to know what I would do to them–THEY are responsible for Osama Bin Laden ‘getting away”–’Oh we’ll let our Afghan allies finish him off”–YEAH RIGHT!–they were CEO’s of large companies before they were folded into the Bush administration, and they ran the wars the same way–I live in New Mexico, and Rumsfeld had to sell his land here and get the hell out of dodge, as he was rightfully threatened if he didn’t–he was never Secretary of Defense–I would call him Secretary of BS–Cheney spent every day after 9/11 hiding out–unless he had to sign papers for Halliburton or KBR to get exclusive contracts —-the entire Bush administration took their eyes off of Afghanistan so they could ‘finish daddy Bush’s war–at the expense of all our soldiers in Afghanistan; where there never was enough of a military presence there to do anything—which was a crime in itself—Cheney needs to stay in Montana and if he’s got any brains, he’d be better off hiding in one of the many mine shafts up there, not telling a real President what he thinks the new administration should do—-he had 7 years to do something and chose to hide out–Doesn’t anyone remember 9/11??? That’s the whole reason we’re over there in the first place!!!!!!

Posted by Louise Smith | Report as abusive

The cheney-Bush Administration CHOSE to fight a war in Iraq, which HAD NOT ATTACKED AMERICA. We orginally had special ops and marines in Afganistan BEFORE we attacked IRAQ. Even had help from Iran. We let OBLaden through to flee into Pakistan because we just didn’t have enough troops. The Cheney-Bush Administration blew the orginial war over spurious and incorrect information from Chalabi and others who wanted Saddam gone. Chalabi, remember is a Shiite.
Cheney has lost ALL credibility with regards to Afganistan.
For those of you who would skewer me for talking about Saddam in the way I have, I was never a lover of that OR any butchering administration but we sure did love him when he attacked Iran. The MSM have dozens if not hundreds of images of Cheney, Rumsfeld and company cozing up to the man they came to hate.
I’ll stick with this group for now. The last one had its chance.

Posted by Dick Diamond | Report as abusive

I am all in favor of war when war has a reasonable chance of working but all the previous administration did was rush into the graveyard of empires with unrealistic expectations wearing an idealistic blindfold… then ignore it and let it fester while public focus was locked on Iraq. What on earth can Obama do? In fact what could any president do, draw down forces (and be slandered for surrender and dishonouring the already fallen) or pour more troops into what increasingly looks like a sink? Everyone wants a ‘win’ but practicaly no one knows what a ‘win’ actualy means.. least of all Cheney it would appear. Obama is in a lose-lose situation and I am sure many people will be happy to milk that cow for all its worth.

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Why are we giving this lackey any attention?This is the most we have seen and heard from that fool,during his time as vice president you barely heard about him.Now that we have a new president not to his liking he is all over the place criticizing.Not worthy of my time.

I have been writing and calling members of the Bush Cheney War Hawks since 2002. Simply asking why after it
was clear that there were no signs of any people of the
afghanistan or Iraq Nations involved in the 9/11/2001
incident, why were we not stopping this horrible crime
against their people. Now here we are trillions of dollars and millions of lives later hearing from this
group led by the very person who lied us into this mess.
Mr. Cheney and his war mongers. Stand up America and try
these people for Murder.

Posted by Clyde Preston | Report as abusive

Mr. Obama I have four words for you:

I HOPE YOU SUCCEED!

Posted by dan | Report as abusive

Please, have your reporters did into Cheney’s background & follow the money!!

Cheney’s protecting his investments after all. His wealth is largely tied up in companies that received high-cost no-bid contracts before & during the time he was in office. They already lost the F-22 contracts.

Can’t the WashPost stay on top of this story? DOD Sec. Gates stayed on to rectify DOD’s contracting abuses set in place when Cheney was DefSec. Cheney picked himself as V.P. for Bush because he would then run the CIA & DOD with his old friend Rumsfeld as proxy. He is maintaining those contacts now every time he opens his mouth to nip at Obama’s & Gates’ heels like a junk-yard dog.

He doesn’t fool most of us citizens, so why is the Washington Post indulging the man?

I am sure that if the President acted immediately, Mr. Cheney would accuse him of precipitous action. I don’t expect the party out of office to quietly slink away, we just need to put their comments in perspective…political sniping, not measured policy.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive

This is in reply to the following comment:


October 22nd, 2009
6:11 pm GMT
Csodak

What evidence do you have to back up your assertion that Dick Cheney has killed American warriors to fatten his bank account? That’s a heinous accusation, if true. Do you have the slightest bit of anything resembling evidence? Show your work.

Dick Cheney was the CEO of Halliburton. They make money from oil and oil infrastructure, killing people, and generally being the worst manifestation of greed, exploitation, destruction, and all of the other ugly parts of capitalism. This should be common knowledge.

http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/about_ha l/chronology.html(see numerous references at the end of this article, and try a cool website called ‘Google’. Just type in ‘dick cheney war profit’ and notice 794,000 results). Do your homework.

Posted by Ryan | Report as abusive

I think they (both parties) are playing politics while we have troops in harm way and I am tired of it. What I am even more tired of is that the American public just doesn’t seem to care. Maybe we ought to ask the troops in the field what they think, besides it is their war to win or lose. America is a nation at the mall, and a bunch of politicians interested in their own legacies and bottom lines. Only our military is at war.

Posted by Bart | Report as abusive

I could puke.

Posted by Pete Cann | Report as abusive

When this man will shut up? Eight years of B.S. is enough Mr.Cheney. Please go home and think about it. Let Mr. Obama do something you and Mr. Bush could not do when you had the chance. The American people is tired of it. And now,you can not manipulate anymore. There is somebody responsible in the White House now, somebody that is thinking about the lives of our young man and woman.

Posted by ClubberDog | Report as abusive

One of the posters is convinced Cheney let Bin Laden escape!correction,Clinton was the one,they had the terrorist leader cornered but Clinton had the Obamas he dithered,and the guy was allowed to escape.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Cheney… the perennial oligarch of past hmm.. Anyone politically supporting the move of soldiers in harms way in a conflict which in fact supports said persons financial interests through investments or other means…
Do your homework before telling someone else to do theirs. The assignment is in the paper and on the wall.
As far as Cheney Ive wasted too much breath already. Yes hes a soft war criminal but now theres only three words for him… snarling old coot! lol lol lol

Posted by ken | Report as abusive

I believe that all the preforsaid politicians should be fitted with spacesuits to await at the gantry for the next schuttle.

Posted by j.pecore | Report as abusive

Cheney’s remarks generally are harmful to his own party, which shows his level of wisdom and understanding. Little Bush had the the lack of wisdom to hire him and the Nation is still paying a steep price for their public service. Cheney’s hunting accident is a fitting metaphor for what his public service did for America. Cheney, Rumsfeld and several other Bush goons should be sent to Gitmo for a few weeks of water-boarding.

Posted by dossgr | Report as abusive

Cheney has the blood of every fallen soldier and Iraqi civilian on his hands for engineering and executing the illegitimate war fiasco that ruined America’s credibility and respect around the world. Drop dead, Dick.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive

Bart (Oct 23) could not have said it more accurately. This Obama guy is not any different than Bush. There solution for America and the World is to borrow more and go to war. What a joke. These politicians are interested in there own legacies. As far as I’m concerned the past 20 years have been embarrassing times in America. And the outlook doesn’t look good. I am not some grumpy old man either, I am 26. But there is a clear difference between now and the world war II generation. These baby boomers ruined it filled with irresponsibility and spoiled children. Cheney, Bush, Obama or any Clinton have done nothing to provide leadership in America. And don’t think this global warming thing is leadership, capitalism will side step it, companies move elsewhere where restrictions are non existent. Money talks much louder than these fools.

Posted by Brian Tobey | Report as abusive

There seems to be a pattern regarding anyone that dares to speak up against the currents administration’s policies: to attack them … personally, whenever possible.
When President Obama spoke at a dinner held for,or at least attended by, the press, he said “most of you voted for me” (may not be the exact quote). Then, with a sly smile, he singled out one particular table of “folks” that didn’t vote for him.
Does anyone see a red flag here? Journalists are supposed to be “watchdogs”, keeping an eye on any administration for the sake of the country. Instead of being watchdogs, many of the journalists seem to be lapdogs. I don’t hear tough questions being asked by most of the press,and if and when a tough question is asked, I don’t hear direct answers … instead, usually personal attacks on those who dare to ask the tough questions.

Posted by DM / SCMN | Report as abusive

Cheney, please retire, go away, go play golf, fish or go hunting. Above all, please be quiet, stop creating headlines for no reason other than to let people still know that you are mettlesome and loud. You had you time at the helm, now go away and let someone else steer the ship.

Posted by Tio Oso | Report as abusive

Lol, I’m always amused by the war hero’s of Republicans.

Do a quick google search and look up the military credentials of the following people:

Dick Cheney-5 Vietnam draft deferments, I didn’t even know it was possible to reach that number.

George Bush- heroically defended the skies of Texas during the Vietnam War.

Bill O’Reilly-Claimed he had a sore throat or something that kept him out of wartime.

Sean Hannity-when most men are entering the military or entering into college he skipped both.

Now according to those same people, here’s a few guys who know nothing about the military, national security, defense and hate their country.

Ron Paul-fought in the Korean War and was a military member for years.

Reverend Wright-gave 6 years of his life to the US marines, didn’t back out of anything.

As an independent who hates both Obama and Bush sometimes you wonder what’s going on in these people’s brains.

Posted by Michael Ham | Report as abusive

I am truly surprised how easily this White House is knocked off their game by such criticism. Whether its a voice from the past or Fox news, they seem to be way too concerned and give way too much attention to them. Cheney can give a speech and keep Gibbs and company busy for days. Why is that?

Afghanistan is an important foreign security issue that does need to be handled correctly, but also sooner rather than later. The administration admirably has many bold agendas it is undertaking, but time doesn’t wait for anyone.

The thing about war planning is that even if you have the best strategy that you have spent months debating, something always happens once it is rolled out. The enemy fights back and now your plan needs to adapt. It is time to adapt.

Posted by mosman | Report as abusive

Whether it is his words or shotgun, Cheney likes to shoot before he thinks.

Posted by Eric | Report as abusive

Cheney is a ghost from the past that no one listens to.

It’s interesting that Obama is gathering all his advisors for direction in Afghanistan. I hope for everyone’s sake that he pulls in Russian and Arab and Afgan advisors who have a pretty good view of Afgan culture and politics to get the cleanest and most efficient way to pull out.

All Afgan is not controllable and is not going to convert to quote un-quote “democracy” for a couple of more generations. Protect the large population centers and help setup security (with appropriate paid spies) – then pull out and use intelligence to monitor the badland and sparcely populated insurgent activity.

Bomb strategically as needed and let them waste their reserves building up again (slowly starve them out in the badlands).

This pragmatic approach not only saves lives on both sides, it allows for periodic weapons testing in real live scenarios (where presumably you only kill insurgents in sparcely populated areas)

Turn badland Afgan into a remote weapons testing facility – until all the terrorists have pulled up stake and went somewhere else or they folded their terrorist hats for good.

Oops – I spoke too soon – maybe that is why it dragged on for 8 years now. This was intentional to allow for continued weapons testing.

Posted by various animal | Report as abusive

Now that we have heard from Mr. Dithers himself,(none other than former VP Dick Sheeny)it was appropriate that Whitehouse press spokesman Gibbs properly placed the VP’s comments in perspective to the VP’s own procrastinations.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

Cheney is able to defend himself,he has the back bone to hold his ground.This must be an irritation for Obama,s Chicago mafia,their policy of isolate and destroy seems to bounce of this guy.Although he is very unpopular at present, but because he is getting the opportunity to respond to his attackers accusations he is presenting an alternate to the misinformation that the Whitehouse is sending out through it,s TV stations.As the campaign promises continue to evaporate the Cheney background on facts and actualities will become more noticed.The democrats are soon going to realize that going after Cheney to appease the left of their party was a big mistake!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Dick, take John McCain with you into the wild blue yonder.
Let it go already, you had your time in the sun, get over it and move on!

Posted by John K | Report as abusive

Had we charged, tried, and convicted these traitors from the Bush/Cheney Crime Wave when they were fresh out of office, we wouldn’t be talking YET about the scum of the earth. It’s STILL not too late!
The blood shed in Viet Nam Wars II and III will be on the hands of ALL Americans until we legally DEAL WITH IT!!!

Posted by Dakotahgeo | Report as abusive

Cheney should shut up. Sooner or later they are going to come for him to attend his war crimes trial.

Cheney the evil clown now freed from his village idiot.

Posted by realitybites | Report as abusive

realitybites,this is the difference between the two different political sides,the liberal one always wants the other one to shut up.Go through the different blogs and interestingly see how many liberals are suggesting that in their execration, that conservatives should not have any dialog!Not only do the hate Sarah Palin but they are venomous apposed to the fact that she continues to give her opinion.Whether you have realized this or not this is fundamental of the mindset attached to socialist diatribe.So it comes as no surprise that Obama thinks it rational that Fox news should not be watched!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Where’s the transparency? Where are the bills on the web five days before signing so that “all Americans will see” what is being signed? This president spends so much face time in front of the cameras but heaven forbid that teleprompter goes down because then he becomes the inexperienced fool he’s always been.

Is it any surprise that Cheney decided to crawl out from under his rock only after Obama started to get beat up in the polls? I don’t think the President needs to listen to Dick Cheney. Nor should anyone else.

Posted by RobertL | Report as abusive

Brian, it’s too bad you can’t spell or compose a grammatically correct sentence. It’s also too bad you spout right wing diatribes instead of carefully analyzing the facts. You’re probably the one sending all those hoax emails around the internet that always seem aimed at Obama or the left. When Bush was in office the same thing happened, all the misinformation was from the Republication side of the political spectrum.

Posted by RichardW | Report as abusive

Obama’s nickname is “MR DITHERS”. The guy is afraid to make a decision for fear he will make the wrong one; thus he has made a decision to do nothing!

The man is well above his abilities to do more than make a nice speech.

Posted by walter | Report as abusive