Cheney blast at Obama for putting U.S at greater risk of terror attacks

Former Vice President Dick Cheney last night blasted Barack Obama for putting Americans in greater risk of terror attacks and exploiting the deepening recession to push his left-wing policies.

The outbursts came as a new poll revealed the president is facing a public backlash against his handling of the financial crisis.

According to a Rasmussen survey, Mr Obama’s popularity has now slipped lower than George Bush’s approval rating in the early months after he first moved into the White House in 2001.

Dick Cheney

Dick Cheney, left, launched a double-pronged attack on President Obama in his first TV interview since leaving office

Just 56% of Americans say they approve of his performance so far - while 43% say they disapprove. The findings contrast with sky-high ratings in his first few weeks in power.

Mr Cheney, long seen as the driving force behind the Bush White House, launched his double-pronged attack on the president in his first TV interview since leaving office.

He claimed Mr Obama has left America more vulnerable to attack by reversing anti-terrorism policies such as harsh interrogations of suspects.

Since becoming president, Mr Obama has also halted military trials of suspected terrorists and announced plans to shut down the US prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.

But the ex-vice president said such measures were ‘absolutely essential’ to prevent a repeat of the 9/11 attacks.

Going on the offensive over the financial crisis, Mr Cheney was adamant the Bush administration was not to blame for America’s economic collapse.

‘Stuff happens, and an administration has to be able to respond to that and we did,’ he said.

‘I don’t think you can blame the Bush administration for the creation of those circumstances. It’s a global financial problem.’

He said Mr Obama is using the recession ‘to try and justify’ the largest government growth ‘in the history of the Republic.’

‘I worry a lot that they’re using the current set of economic difficulties to try to justify a massive expansion in the government,  and much more authority for the government over the private sector.

‘I don’t think that’s good. I don’t think that’s going to solve the problem,’ he added.

Although Mr Cheney didn’t use the word socialism, analysts say it was clearly his intention to stir up Republican unrest over the administration’s left-leaning policies.

Mr Obama has also faced criticism from his own Democrat colleagues for sounding too negative in the first weeks of his presidency.

Aides fear the torrent of gloomy news has contributed to his slump in popularity.

In addition to his plummeting approval rating in the Rasmussen poll, the latest Gallup survey shows that 83% of Americans are worried that the steps the president is taking to fix the economy may not work and that the recession will get worse.

Another 82% said they are concerned about the amount of debt America is piling up.

Undeterred, Mr Obama tried to sound upbeat over the economy in his remarks over the weekend.

Responding to question marks raised in China over America’s solvency, he insisted that ‘every investor can have absolute confidence in the soundness of investments’ in the US.’

He added: ’There’s a reason why even in the midst of this economic crisis you’ve seen actual increases in investment flows here into the United States.

‘I think it’s a recognition that the stability not only of our economic system, but also our political system, is extraordinary.’

Mr Obama will hope for a further boost this week as Congress begins work on the budget that forms the central plank of his efforts to revive the economy.

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