Dick Cheney purposely schedule his American Enterprise Institute torture speech to begin the moment President Obama finished his. Can you imagine the reaction if Al Gore spoke had done the same thing in response to a Bush speech? Who’s wrong and who’s right isn’t the only question here? How appropriate is it for VP who just concluded his term to inject himself into the bloodstream as a new administration is taking hold? It’s certainly not customary.
In each venue, the speaker appeared pointedly aware of his adversary. Moments after Obama finished speaking, Cheney was introduced by an AEI official who claimed to know that Obama had purposely scheduled his speech to coincide with Cheney’s.
How nice that they can take turns in such an orderly fashion. Here are some of the dueling talking points.
- Obama: sharply criticized “political posturing” over his efforts to close the Guantanamo prison camp and rebutted claims in Congress from lawmakers of both parties that bringing terrorist suspects to the United States to stand trial would endanger national security.
- Cheney: “You don’t want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want — just don’t bring them into the United States.”
- Obama: “I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values.”
- Cheney: “People who consistently distort the truth” [about the interrogations] “are in no position to lecture anyone about ‘values.’ “
- 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.”
- Obama: “Where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.”
- Obama: “We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat…with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability.”
- Cheney: “In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.”
- Cheney: “For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will stand up well in history — not despite our actions after 9/11, but because of them.”
- Obama: “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: “Now, I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As commander in chief, I see the intelligence. I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation.”
- Cheney: “They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do. They prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people.”
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