Thursday, May 21, 2009

Let's Get It On! Obama Vs. Cheney On GITMO, Terrorism: President Cites "Mess," Cheney Slams "Rhetoric" and Defends CIA (Video)


"Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy."

Vice President Dick Cheney
Remarks at the American Enterprise Institute
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Politico reports:

In an extraordinary cross-town debate carried live across the TV airwaves, President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney battled Thursday over the Bush administration’s policies on the war on terror, with Cheney attacking the new president for seeking to dismantle practices that he said kept America safe ever since 9/11.

Cheney also says those who call Bush interrogation practices torture – as Obama has – people who engage in “contrived indignation and phony moralizing on the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.”

Obama, in turn, said President George W. Bush decimated the nation’s values and beliefs in a hastily conceived, poorly executed plan that left him a “mess” at Guantanamo Bay and American’s image abroad in tatters.

Obama declared Thursday that the only responsible way to clean up “a mess” left over by the Bush administration at Guantanamo Bay is to bring some prisoners to the U.S. for trial, despite the intense resistance to that idea in Congress.

“In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. 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 basis,” Obama said. “The problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.”

But it was Cheney who was on the attack in his speech at the American Enterprise Institute, leveling a broadside against Obama at a time when some in the Republican party want to move forward rather than relitigate the unpopular Bush years.

“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,” Cheney said. “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,” Cheney said. “There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance. “

On the specific issues of the harsh interrogation practices and the Guantanamo detention center, Cheney was equally aggressive.

“The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question,” the former vice president said of the declassified documents released last month. “Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release. For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the content of the answers.”

He added: “Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States.”

(H/T: Gateway Pundit)

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