One of the greatest threats facing the United States is that a group of terrorists will be able to acquire a nuclear device or a biological agent that will enable them to far exceed the carnage inflicted on 9/11, former Vice President Dick Cheney tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
Cheney, in an interview about his new book, “In My Time” by Newsmax Chief Washington Correspondent Ronald Kessler, noted that terrorists armed with box cutters were able to kill nearly 3,000 Americans on a crystal clear day ten years ago.
“I still worry more than anything else, really, about the possibility of a group of terrorists acquiring really deadly capabilities,” Cheney said.
“When we got hit on 9/11, 19 guys armed with airline tickets and box cutters. The next time around I worry they may have a nuclear device or a biological agent of some kind and would be in a position to inflict far greater damage and loss of life than anything we experienced on 9/11. I think that’s still a very really threat. I think we need to be concerned about it. I think we need to have policies and procedures in place that minimize that threat.”
Cheney said the days when an attack employing nuclear or biological weapons could only be managed by a nation-state such as the Soviet Union are long gone.
“Technology is, when you think about it, so widely available to so many different kinds of people now that you have to be concerned, that the proliferation, if you will, of that kind of capability is a very real threat. It’s not as though you can accept a situation in which you stop 99 out of 100 attacks. You’ve got to stop them all. You’ve got to beat them every time. That’s hard to guarantee.”
To meet such a high standard requires committing more resources and personnel because he said “the cost of failure” is the many lives that would be “lost if in fact they’re able at some point to launch a major biological agent inside the United States.”
During his eight years as President George W. Bush’s vice president, Cheney was a lightening rod for critics, upset over such things as his advocacy of enhanced interrogation techniques and his push to take the war on terror to Iraq. Cheney said he was not surprised that people disagree with “what we did. That’s the nature of the business.”
However, he worried that Americans might “fall into the trap of thinking that what we’ve done wasn’t necessary, that there was never going to be another attack anyway, this notion that somehow we overreacted.”
“I don’t believe that for a minute,” he said. “But the danger headed down that path, with more and more people beginning to think that, they become less and less tolerant of the policies, the searches before you get on an airliner for example, than would otherwise be the case. The danger there, of course, is that the threat is still out there and you need to be able keep in place those measures that have provided safety for the last seven or eight years.”
Cheney concluded that the tenth anniversary of 9/11 is not just a reminder of “how enormously painful it was for us as a nation to go through that, but also a reminder the threat’s still there, you still got people who want to do us harm, and we can’t turn our back on it or say gee that’s kind of a nasty business, or it’s too tough, we shouldn’t be doing that.
“We weren’t the ones that generated the attack, these are people who mean us harm, mean us ill and they demonstrated it very conclusively on more than one occasion,” he concluded.