In an interview with Harry Smith on CBS' "The Early Show," President Obama responded to criticisms from former Vice President Dick Cheney as well as those who think the U.S. should get more involved in Iran.
"He and I have a deep disagreement about what's required to keep the American people safe," Obama said. "I would argue that our policies are making the American people safer, and that some of the policies that he's promoted in the past have not." On Iran, he explained that he didn't want the U.S. to become "a foil" for justifying the crackdown on protesters.
SMITH: People in this country say you haven't said enough; that you haven't been forceful enough in your support for those people on the street -- to which you say?
OBAMA: To which I say: The last thing that I want to do is to have the United States be a foil for those forces inside Iran, who would love nothing better than to make this an argument about the United States. That's what they do. That's what we're already seeing.
We shouldn't be playing into that. There should be no distractions from the fact that the Iranian people are seeking to let their voices be heard. What we can do is bear witness and say to the world that the incredible demonstrations that we've seen is a testimony to, I think, what Dr. King called "the arc of the moral universe." It's long, but it bends towards justice. [...]
SMITH: Leon Panetta intimated the former vice president was playing politics with national security issues. The former president has intoned his own displeasure with some of your policy changes. I think they feel like some of the things that you've done, in fact, are treacherous.
OBAMA: Well, I think when it comes to Vice President Cheney, he and I have a deep disagreement about what's required to keep the American people safe. And I think that disagreement has been amply aired and certainly he has a right to voice his opinions. I would argue that our policies are making the American people safer, and that some of the policies that he's promoted in the past have not.