Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cheney’s national security speech: Half-measures keep you half-exposed

Then it was Cheney’s turn to speak at the American Enterprise Institute, where he’d been chomping at the bit (quite possibly literally) for Obama to finish (they were watching Obama’s speech, which started late). So Cheney was just a little snotty: “It’s pretty clear the president served in the Senate and not in the House of Representatives, because, of course, in the House, we have the five-minute rule.” Take that, President Big Mouth!

(I’m limiting my commentary – I have a headache. Can’t imagine why.)

The speech was all 9/11, victory dance, and vendetta.

After a brief mention of secret surveillance, which focused on the NYT reporting of it (“It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country or the safety of our people.”), the speech was almost entirely about interrogation, 45 minutes on the virtues of torture, which was “legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do.”

He’s also not too thrilled with Obama for releasing those Justice Dept memos: “The released memos were carefully redacted to leave out references to what our government learned through the methods in question.” No they weren’t. “Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interests of the United States.”

“Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called truth commission.” Which is so-called, the commission or the whole idea of truth?

“All the zeal that has been directed at the interrogations is utterly misplaced, and staying on that path will only lead our government further away from its duty to protect the American people.”

“You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists.”

“[I]t takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful, and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.”

“we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.”

“I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about values.”

“And 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. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe.” And if there’s one thing Dick Cheney hates, it’s recklessness cloaked in righteousness that makes the American people less safe.

“The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. 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. 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.”

He went on at some length about how the Obamaites are backing away from Bushian rhetoric, and that’s making us weak too: “Apparently using the term war where terrorists are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated.”... “there are no more ‘enemy combatants’”... “back in the days of that scary war on terror”... “In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists we’ve captured as, quote, abducted.”

“Attorney General Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be compelled to accept terrorists here in the homeland, and it has even been suggested U.S. taxpayer dollars would be used to support them.” Suggested by morons, and I’m pretty sure Holder never said any such thing.

EVERY TIME A EUROPEAN APPLAUDS, AN ANGEL DIES: “The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo”.

THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE JIHAD BUSINESS: “An estimated 14 percent of those released previously are believed to be back in the business of jihad.”

He lambasted the idea, which Obama had alluded to in his speech, that American torture is a recruitment tool for terrorists: “it excuses the violent and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of that same old refrain from the left, We brought it on ourselves.” So why do terrorists really hate us? You’ll never guess. They hate us for our freedom.

“Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being consistent with American values, but no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things.”

“And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them.” I’m pretty sure no nation’s value include welcoming being targeted by a terror network.

Debating Cheney’s interrogation policies is, of course, a grave threat to national security: “And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead, the terrorists see just what they were hoping for: our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.”

He claimed that “President Obama has reserved unto himself the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it appropriate” although “What value remains to that authority is debatable, given that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to train against and which ones not to worry about.”

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