National Security: Obama says he’s undoing ‘mess’ left for him; Cheney disagrees

“We are cleaning up something that is, quite simply, a mess, a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant, almost-daily basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country,” President Obama said, referring to Gitmo, the enhanced interrogation techniques and the military tribunals. 

President Barack Obama gave a national security speech today, laying out his position on Gitmo, interrogations and terrorist.


White House: “It Was a Mistake” To Set Up Gitmo. Really?

President Barack Obama
APSaid former U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel and New York Daily News columnist Ralph Peters, “This did not sound like our president.  It sounded like some lawyer….”


“Obama should get on with governing,” Peters said, “not worrying about the comfort of terrorist prisoners.”

Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s speech, called a rebuttal, was scheduled before Obama’s and without knowledge of Obama’s text.

Cheney said only three men were “waterboarded” and all had vital information needed to prevent further attacks.  Cheney asked that the documents showing how the prisoners responded to EIT’s be released.

Cheney was undoubtedly sure of what the president was expected to say.

“People who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about ‘values,'” Cheney said.

“We sought, and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans,” said Cheney.

“To completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe. The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.”

“Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as, quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” – never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they are – or what they would do if we let them loose.”

Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia had a pretty good take on the two speeches:

“Salesmanship versus policy preference. The better salesman is unquestionably Barack Obama, and his credibility advantage gets the administration’s proposals a fair hearing by the voters. Dick Cheney is firmly tied to an unpopular, discredited administration, and it is tough for many people to ignore the messenger so that they can fairly evaluate the message. Yet the other fundamental is at the heart of the President’s problem. Obama is trying to sell a disliked policy. Nothing in his speech acted as an antidote to the NIMBY response that has overwhelmed his high minded argumentation for closing Guantanamo and bringing most detainees to the U.S. If the Republicans had a more appealing spokesperson for their point of view, they might prevail. If the President had a more appealing policy, he might prevail. The party that changes this equation in its favor over the coming months may win the day on this critical matter.”


From Stephen Dinan
The Washington Times

Accusing President Obama of giving Americans “less than half the truth,” former Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday tough interrogation tactics worked, and said the tactics had the approval of members of Congress including current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

The former vice president said the president’s attempt to find a middle ground that angers the right and the left is compromising American security: “in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half-exposed.”

Mr. Cheney said tough interrogation tactics “were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do.”

Read the rest:

Cheney Speech Text:
Cheney Speech Text, May 21, 2009

Obama Speech Text:

Michelle Malkin:


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