One would be forgiven if they mistakenly thought they were in some sort of time warp on May 21.
That’s the day when former vice president Dick Cheney spoke at the American Enterprise Institute, delivering a speech repudiating President Barack Obama, who had just given a speech elsewhere on torture and national security.
Apparently, Dick Cheney feels the need to express his disapproval with the president and his current international policy, arguing that it’s making Americans “less safe.” Never mind that Cheney himself admitted to CNN last month that he no longer reads intelligence briefings. With no actual facts to back him up, Cheney, with a sneer that could light up a detained terrorist, passionately argued in favor of torture techniques-which he insists on redefining as “enhanced interrogations.” He said it led to information that helped prevent “further attacks on American soil.”
Even if true, there’s no way to disprove that such information could have been garnered by means other than torture. Second, Cheney argued that only three detainees were water-boarded. That point is not in dispute. But, he failed to mention that the detainees-Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri-were tortured a total of 267 times. Were all of those instances necessary? Did it take the 267th time in order to get info that prevented “further attacks on American soil?”
In his speech earlier in the day, Obama responded to attacks that his policies are making the country less safe. He reiterated how important it was to maintain an ethical stance in handling threats to our country. I agree with his sentiments.
One of the primary issues of descent between the Cheney and Obama is the president’s desire to close Guantanamo Bay, which Cheney has publicly opposed. The obvious question is: Where will the detainees go? Shame on Obama for delivering a speech, in part, about closing Gitmo without answering that basic question.
This left him vulnerable to attacks from both sides, especially from lawmakers on the left weary of having alleged terrorists shipped to high-security prisons in their states. The posturing, however, doesn’t jive with the reality that our American prisons are currently filled with confirmed terrorists, such as Oklahoma City Bombing conspirator Terry Nichols. And never mind that no prisoner has ever escaped from the maximum facility in Florence, Colo.-where the detainees likely would be shipped.
Political pundits can sort out who won the battle of the speeches. But I was most disheartened by Cheney’s blatant gambling on the fate of the nation’s security for the sake of scoring political points. He’s waged his entire attack on our current president based on the idea that the only way we can be safe as a nation is by having a Republican in the White House.
As sad and cynical as it may seem, Cheney almost needs a national security disaster to confirm his dire warnings. Cheney wants to be Nelson from The Simpsons, the playground bully who taunts anyone who makes a mistake with his signature “Hah-ha!” laugh.
Obama wants the nation united in order to prevent terrorist threats. Cheney, other the other hand, needs Obama’s failure in order to validate his own position. That makes Cheney flagrantly un-American and one of the sorest losers ever in politics. One thing that is lost in all of this is the unmistakable fact that the nightmare of Sept. 11, 2001 occurred on George W. Bush’s and Cheney’s watch. They had the intelligence, failed to react and 3,000 people died.
That’s a fact, Dick.