I just want to make sure we are all on the same page.
Dick Cheney's performance today was all about what is coming down the road and it does not look good for him. Liz Cheney's performance is all about helping her father's legacy, at any cost.
Right now we are at a crossroads in this country. A serious one. We are either going to be a country that stand by our rules and laws, which means we will follow the rules and laws. Or a country that will ignore our laws, justify breaking our laws and bear the consequences. We must decide what we want to do.
There's a lot of moving parts going on here and let me tackle them.
First, Dick and Liz Cheney.
Dick Cheney broke the law, period. He stood on that stage today and justified torture. He did not waiver, he was clear, he was concise. He stands behind the program that has put this country in more harms way than ever. It was a strong argument that Cheney gave and he needed, too. Why? As all of this is unraveling he needs to justify what happened during the Bush/Cheney years as deserved and rational. During his speech, Cheney continues to associated 9/11, WMDs and Iraq as the reason for the invasion, when he knows that it is a blatant lie.
Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the measures our administration took to defend the American people.
Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies.
Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans were getting bolder and more sophisticated.
We could count on almost universal support back then, because everyone understood the environment we were in.
Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and it was our job to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology.
We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.
Foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to pass - a 9/11 with weapons of mass destruction.
We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.
In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists.
I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program.
They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do.
To call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims.
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.
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.
Dick Cheney and his daughter Liz are continuing to beat the drum of justification for the Torture Program under the Bush Administration.
Lastly, never in over 40 years has a previous administration, President or Vice President complained, criticized and voiced strong opinions about a new administration. Viewing Cheney's speech, his demeanor, body language is one of do it my way or the high way. Obviously, Cheney is finding it difficult to rationalize that Barack Obama won the election and not by a slither but by 8 percentage points. That is mandate numbers and Cheney and the Republicans are having a difficult time dealing with it.
Talking Points for the GOP
Various television shows in the past week or so have hammered home the closing of Guantanamo Bay, coupled with the Nancy Pelosi comments on the lack of truth from the CIA. While this banter is going on, the Democrats removal of the closing of Guantanamo Bay monies and falling for the "terror scare" of the Republicans had many scratching their heads with WTF? The following crafted by Senator John Thune (R-SD):
The American jail system is designed for American systems, for criminals. It's not designed to handle the types of threats and risks and dangers that having terrorists housed in some of these prisons would pose to communities and neighborhoods in this country, Andrea.
And I think what you saw in the Senate today was a vote. It was 90 to six, Democrats and Republicans coming together. And actually it was an about-face for the Democrats in the Senate because earlier they had put funding into the bill that would have gone toward closing Guantanamo, but they recognized that that was a losing proposition, particularly given the fact that the president has not put forward any kind of a plan or detailed what he would do with these detainees.
Let's be clear here. The United States of America has more prisons and people incarcerated than any other country, period. The notion that we can not harbor and incarcerate 200+ detainees/terrorists in maximum security prisons is just preposterous.
But remember, this is going to be the argument for 2010 mid-term election. Get ready for the boogey man ads to the public. Be prepared for the "terrorist is moving into your neighborhood". That is the card the GOP will play as they try to regain the trust of the American public. Yes, they are going to try it.
In Barack Obama's speech he made it clear that he is closing Guantanamo Bay and that his number one priority is the safety of this nation. He also addressed the politicization of the national debate issue:
Obama accused the Bush administration officials of acting from "fear rather than foresight" in the days after the 9/11 attacks, with "hasty decisions" that undermined U.S. efforts in the war against Islamic terrorism.
He inherited "a mess," Obama said. Bush-era officials "trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions" with policies "neither effective nor sustainable."
And now, "we have seen a return of the politicization of these issues," Obama said. "We will be ill-served by ... the fear-mongering" that has "more to do with politics than protecting our country."
Ask General Petraeus. Wars on terror are inherently different. The brutal techniques of unbridled warfare can be counterproductive when employed against groups like the Taliban and al Qaeda.
"They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America," Obama said. "They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured.
"In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts—they undermined them."
Today we heard two speeches, one from the President of the United States and one from the former Vice-President of the United States. This country must decide if we are going to be a country that stands by the rule of law and moral ground, or are we just going to by pass it and do what we want as we see fit, no matter what the consequences may be.
The latter has put us in the mess we are in now and has forced President Obama to reach out and broker destroyed relationships created by the Bush Administration. We voted for Barack Obama and change, but change does not come by pulling a lever, punching a card or filling in a circle. Change is what you fight for. We have every right to question and take Barack Obama to task when we disagree, but we must stand with him and give him time to fix the long laundry list left by the Bush Administration. It won't happen over night, but we owe him the chance to do it his way. This is what we voted for.
As for the mid-term elections in 2010? Get ready it is not going to be nice.