(AFP) – May 27, 2009
WASHINGTON (AFP) — President Barack Obama's national security advisor James Jones rejected ex-vice president Dick Cheney's claim that dismantling Bush-era anti-terror policies had made Americans less safe.
"In my view, I firmly believe that the United States is not only safe but it will be more secure and the American people are increasingly safer because of the president's leadership that he has displayed consistently over the last four months, both at home and abroad," Jones said.
"He has said clearly and unequivocally that we are at war with terroism and terrorism can take many facets," Jones said at the meeting of the Atlantic Council in Washington in the first major speech since taking his new job.
Jones said Obama had enhanced security with his decision to close the Guantanamo Bay war-on-terror camp, with his new strategy of fighting extremism in Afghanistan and Pakistan and in his plan to end the war in Iraq.
Jones also cited Obama's outreach to the Muslim world, including next week's major address in Egypt, renewal of US alliances abroad and his plan to tackle threats as diverse as Iran's nuclear program, climate change and his forthcoming cybersecurity initiative.
The national security advisor did not mention Cheney by name, but his remarks were a clear rejection of the rhetoric of the former vice president, who has mounted a stinging attack on Obama's national security policies.
Jones however warned that while the administration was striving for perfection, it could not rule out future terrorist attacks.
He also implicitly acknowledged Cheney's role in defending the policies of the former Bush administration, which critics, including Obama, say tainted the US image abroad.
"No administration is going to suggest that their performance had made the country less safe," Jones, a former marine general and NATO commander, said.
Asked by CNN in March if Obama had made the United States more vulnerable by dismantling former president George W. Bush's anti-terror policies, Cheney said bluntly: "I do."
Cheney last week delivered a point-by-point rejection of Obama's national security policy, arguing he was dispensing with policies that kept the country safe following the September 11 attacks in 2001.
"After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized," Cheney said in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute.
"To the very end of our administration we kept Al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems.
"We focused on getting their secrets instead of sharing ours with them and on our watch they never hit this country again."
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