On May 21, 2009, former vice president Richard B. Cheney, a member of the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research and a member of their Board of Trustees, spoke at AEI on the serious and ongoing threat terrorism poses to the United States. He also answers the criticism being levied upon the country and the Bush administration by President Obama over the prosecution of the war on terror. Even to the point of criminalizing the prosecution of it.
How history repeats itself. Didn’t we see what happens when political opposition becomes a criminal offense in the last century?
I haven’t seen his speech elsewhere in the media, outside of 10 second sound bites, so here it is below.
‘It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.’
‘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 ever 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.’
‘Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy. As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for themselves.
I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations–and I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information came from interrogations in which those methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later version released by the administration–the missing twenty-six words that tell an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security Agency put together have been able to tell us.”
If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared, it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return to where it belongs–on the continuing threat of terrorist violence, and on stopping the men who are planning it.’
VP Cheney’s daughter, Liz Cheney, speaks to the issue as raised by President Obama. ‘He has a Sept. 10th mentality.’
Related link: Don’t Pretend This Is a Debate about “Torture”