Former Vice President Dick Cheney speaks during the Republican Committee Fundraising Dinner on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2013, at the Little America Hotel in Cheyenne, Wyoming. (Photo: AP)
(TheBlaze/AP) -- Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Saturday night that President Barack Obama has jeopardized U.S. national security by nominating substandard candidates for key cabinet posts and by degrading the U.S. military.
"The performance now of Barack Obama as he staffs up the national security team for the second term is dismal," Cheney said in comments to about 300 members of the Wyoming Republican Party.
A Wyoming native, Cheney said it is vital to the nation's national security that "good folks" hold the positions of secretary of state, CIA director and secretary of defense.
"Frankly, what [Obama] has appointed are second-rate people," he added.
John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, has been confirmed as secretary of state. CIA designate John Brennan and defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel are still awaiting U.S. Senate confirmation.
Wyoming's two U.S. senators, Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, voted for Kerry's confirmation. But both Enzi and Barrasso gave introductory speeches for Cheney Saturday night.
Cheney asserted that Hagel, a former Nebraska U.S. senator, was chosen because Obama "wants to have a Republican that he can use to take the heat for what he plans to do to the Department of Defense."
WAFormer U.S. Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE) testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during his confirmation hearing to become the next secretary of defense on Capitol Hill January 31, 2013 in Washington, DC. (Photo: Getty Images)
Not only that, he said Obama intends to allow severe cuts in U.S. defense spending, which would limit the capability of the U.S. military to respond to future foreign crises well after Obama has left office.
“The decisions that Obama makes today aren’t about what the forces are going to look like tomorrow, it’s what the forces are going to look like 10 years from now,” Cheney said. "He is today ... establishing what limitations will be on future presidents."
The former vice president also noted that the security situation in the Middle East and North Africa has worsened under Obama's watch and is "as dangerous as it has ever been," with Iran actively pursuing nuclear weapons and with turmoil in Egypt, Syria, Mali and elsewhere.
The Obama administration's response has been to pull back U.S. military presence and influence, resulting in rising mistrust of the U.S. from allies such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, he said.
“Our friends out there no longer trust us,” he reportedly warned.
Cheney touched on domestic politics in his speech, as well. Despite Obama's re-election, Cheney said he hopes Republicans can revive their political fortunes by holding to conservative principles.
"I believe we're all going to pull together, work hard, dig in and do what needs to be done," he said.
According to the Associated Press, Cheney appeared fit during the speech. He received a heart transplant about a year ago.