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October 22, 2009

Dick Cheney Goes Off On Obama

Yes, I know Ace posted a link to the speech last night but it's getting a lot of play today, so I thought I'd pull some excerpts and give the day crew a chance to chat about it.

On Afghanistan.

Itís time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while Americaís armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Recently, President Obamaís advisors have decided that itís easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The Presidentís chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadnít asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obamaís team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision Ė a good one, I think Ė and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. Itís time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

On interrogations.


Then thereís the matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war. Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United States.

At every turn, we understood as well that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots Ė and thatís an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of lives potentially in the balance, we didnít think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

The intelligence professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest actors we picked up to reveal things they really didnít want to share. In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar, complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a professorial side, and our guys didnít mind at all if classes ran long. At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well, tells us why he started to talk.

On America.

For all that weíve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings Ė and least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

As I asked last night in the comments, remember what it was like to have elected officials who love and respect America? It seems so long ago.

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posted by DrewM. at 12:49 PM

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