Cheney: Current Policies Put More Americans at Risk
President George W. Bush picked some really, really good people. His vice president was one of his best.
Unrepentant and newly unbridled, former vice president Richard B. Cheney has embraced two missions in his political retirement: to forcefully defend the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies and to publicly condemn those who would unravel them.

He did both yesterday, using the drama of a televised feud with President Obama to deliver the blistering accusation that more Americans are likely to die because the president has turned away from George W. Bush's post-Sept. 11, 2001, national security agenda. Cheney seemed eager to fan the flames of the debates raging through Washington.

Spoken in his droll monotone, Cheney's words were razor-sharp. He accused the president of "contrived indignation and phony moralizing" over the issue of detainee interrogations and called the decision to ban harsh methods "recklessness cloaked in righteousness" that threatens Americans.

Cheney's speech was on the calendar long before Obama's, but the former vice president did not back down when the two schedules collided. He called the zeal for prosecutions of those who conducted interrogations "utterly misplaced." He accused House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) of treating the CIA with "suspicion, outright hostility and second-guessing." He said Obama would "regret" bringing detainees into the country.

To those who question what he and Bush did to combat terrorism, Cheney held nothing back, offering a comprehensive -- if familiar -- justification for the government's past use of wiretapping, detention and harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects. "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," he told the American Enterprise Institute shortly after Obama's own national security address at the National Archives.

In his speech yesterday, Cheney made it clear that he views himself as the principal keeper of the Bush legacy and a key player in making sure Obama does not mischaracterize the past eight years. Cheney's 15-page speech will serve as a playbook for anyone seeking to defend the Bush administration. In the second half of what amounted to a debate, Cheney vigorously defended the methods that Obama had just belittled as unwise and ineffective. In great detail, Cheney recounted the hours and days after the 2001 strikes and said the Bush administration's actions are the reason the country has not suffered another serious attack.

"They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do," Cheney said of the policies. ". . . They prevented the violent death of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of people."

Cheney said he wishes Obama success in protecting the country, telling his conservative audience that "though I am not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do."
We here at Rantburg concur most emphatically.
Obama did not mention Cheney in his speech, instead making thinly veiled references to the former vice president's comments. In his rebuttal, Cheney spoke directly about Obama, urging the president to alter his course on national security. "You don't want to call them enemy combatants? Fine," he said. "Call them what you want -- just don't bring them into the United States."

He accused Obama of propagating half-truths about the effectiveness of interrogation methods by refusing to declassify memos that Cheney claims would show how much information the government obtained through such tactics.

He said Obama's release of memos that describe the methods was "flatly contrary" to national security interests. But he said the move should be accompanied by a full release of the other memos. "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 said.
Posted by: Steve White 2009-05-22