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Former Vice President Cheney addresses state bar

September 11, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Arriving home in Wyoming on Wednesday, former Vice President Dick Cheney continued to hammer on his message that President Barack Obama’s policies are leaving the country more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Cheney gave the keynote address at the Wyoming State Bar’s annual conference in Cheyenne, delivering his comments shortly after Obama made a national address. But Cheney didn’t discuss Obama’s announcement of planned U.S. airstrikes on Syrian soil against Islamic State militants.

Instead, his remarks followed up on criticism of Obama’s policies that Cheney voiced earlier in the day in a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.

“My basic message is one that I’ve repeated a number of times in recent months, and that is my deep, deep concern of the status of the nation’s security,” Cheney said.

Cheney also met with congressional Republicans in Washington, D.C., earlier this week where he’s been urging strong military action against terrorists, including Islamic State militants in Syria and Iraq.

Cheney’s vocal criticism of the Obama Administration’s policies this week drew a sharp response Wednesday from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Reid said Cheney is more responsible than anyone else for the invasion of Iraq, which Reid called the worst foreign policy decision in the history of the United States.

“Now that Republicans are taking advice from Dick Cheney on foreign policy, I’m concerned that they once again will rush to commit U.S. troops to a ground war in the Middle East,” Reid said.

Cheney, in his Wyoming address, said terrorism has strengthened its grip around the globe under Obama’s watch.

“ISIS has taken over part of Syria and part of Iraq and we’ve got the first caliphate established, where national boundaries don’t mean much anymore,” Cheney said. “We’ve got rapid growth in Islamic terrorism.”

Cheney said terrorists now enjoy essentially safe haven in nations from Africa, through the Middle East and extending into Indonesia.

Against that rising threat, Cheney said he’s concerned about flagging support for the United States’ military. A former secretary of defense, Cheney said he contacted former President Ronald Reagan after the first Gulf War and thanked him for his commitment to military programs in the previous years that left the nation well-prepared.

Cheney said he’s certain no future secretary of defense ever will contact Obama to thank him for his commitment to national defense.

Cheney was clearly among friends in Cheyenne, receiving standing ovations at the start and finish of his speech. He graduated from the University of Wyoming and was elected repeatedly early in his career to the state’s lone seat in the U.S. House.

Mike Sullivan, a former Wyoming governor and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland introduced Cheney.

Sullivan, a Democrat, said he regards the entire state of Wyoming as a small town with unusually long streets. “And no one has traveled as far on those streets as Dick Cheney,” he said.

“Dick Cheney has served this small town we call Wyoming and this country and has traveled in places and performed services the likes of which no one else in history has done,” Sullivan said. “For that, we appreciate him.”

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