The rhetorical battle between the current and immediate past administrations about national security came to a head today as President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney gave successive speeches before separate audiences in Washington - speeches that were both carried in their entirety live on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com.
Cheney has been very vocal of late, criticizing the Obama administration for making the nation less safe with its elimination of enhanced interrogation of terrorist suspects.
The president who has been trying to make his case for the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, received a major setback this week when Senate Democrats joined with Republicans in turning down funding for its mothballing over concerns that some detainees might end up loose on the streets of the United States.
So Obama had to go public and restate his case for its closing. He emphasized that no one who is a "danger to the American people" will be released. He said they will be transferred to maximum security federal pens, from which there has never been an escape. And he said he is confident that the federal court system will successfully prosecute terrorists. Though that sidesteps the emotional issue driving the opposition to closing Gitmo of what would be done with those who are acquitted.
Cheney, on the other hand, lambasted the Obama administration for having little regard for the valuable information detainees might provide - information that, he argues, could be used to thwart future terrorist attacks in the United States. The former vice president argued that the issue of waterboarding has been overblown by detractors, noting that only three people ever were waterboarded. And he said, several times, that torture was never permitted on the Bush administration's watch, noting that the enhanced interrogation techniques were only authorized after having been given what he called "careful" legal review.
He says the most vocal critics of the interrogation techniques come from those exhibiting "contrived indignation" and who "distort the truth."
CIA intelligence officers, he asserted, were only attempting to prevent future killings of Americans. And he repeated his assertion that completely prohibiting such techniques makes the United States less safe.
He concluded by citing the Bush administration's record of preventing terrorist attacks for the seven-and-a-half years following the September 11, 2001 attack. A record he says that should not be scorned "much less criminalized." Which goes directly to the heart of the issue. Because Cheney, seemingly, is not just concerned about future terrorist attacks. He's appears concerned that he and others might face prosecution for the decisions made on his watch.
We'll talk about the closing of Guantanamo and the enhance interrogation techniques of the Bush administration at 5 PM New York time today on News Talk Online on Paltalk.com. CLICK HERE to join the conversation.