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The Highs and Lows of Obama's Big Speech

Obama at the Archives today. (Charles Dharapak/AP)

President Obama's rousing speech on national security today served as an important reminder of how far the country strayed after 9/11 from its core values and how important it is for us to return to them.

His voice echoing in the rotunda of the National Archives, the U.S. Constitution behind him, the Declaration of Independence to his right and the Bill of Rights to his left, Obama made the case that the Bush administration's ad hoc approach to the war on terror now must be laboriously undone and brought under the rule of law -- for the sake of both our enduring principles and our national security.

He explained how the use of torture and the establishment of a prison intended to be beyond the law had hurt us much more than they had helped us.

He rejected the notion that he was continuing the unilateral, absolutist policies of his predecessor. And he actually made some news by announcing new steps he is taking to increase oversight by the courts and Congress in even the most sensitive areas of government.

In a speech that he said was made necessary by all the recent fearmongering and political posturing in the national security debate, he called on members of Congress to put aside their unseemly terror of attack ads and show some spine instead. (Yesterday, the Democratic-majority Senate, by a 90-6 vote, rejected Obama's request for funds to shutter the prison at Guantanamo Bay, citing concerns about detainee transfers to the U.S.)

Obama spoke of the need to set up a legal framework for detainees and interrogation that rather than reflecting expediency or ideology will stand up for years to come. And he expressed his hope that national security would cease to be a wedge issue, and once again be a cause that unites us all.

But in some parts of his speech, Obama appeared to be defending actions and even taking positions that didn't live up to his own professed standards.

When it came to what to do with the detainees at Guantanamo, he declared that he would work to create a system that would enable the indefinite detention without trial for a limited number of people whom the government is unable to prosecute for past crimes, but whom are nevertheless considered to be threats to the country. Even though he spoke of establishing lawful standards and periodic reviews, that's a dangerously extreme policy proposal. He once again expressed his intention to use a reformed military commission process for some detainees -- but gave no reason to think it won't run into many of the same legal challenges that Bush's process did. He spoke of sending many detainees to face trial in federal courts -- but then promised that no one would be released who endangers our national security. The whole point of a fair judicial system is that the executive can't guarantee the results.

Obama spoke passionately about his commitment to transparency, but offered up the same lousy and unpersuasive excuses he did last week for his decision to fight the court-ordered release of more photos of prison abuse. In particular, the weight he put on his responsibility not to release information that would inflame our enemies was deeply disturbing.

He offered no additional clarity regarding his position on the state secrets doctrine, where his lofty promises still stand in dramatic conflict with what his administration is actually doing.

And in continuing to oppose the creation of an independent commission that would fully investigate the abuses of the Bush administration, he marginalized those of us who want to find out what happened as polarizers, much like those who continue to doggedly defend Bush policies. He said the recent debate has obscured the truth -- when all we want is to let it free.

Here is the transcript of Obama's speech.

On the big picture:

"I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we ... cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights - are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world...

"I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never - ever - turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake. I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset - in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval."

On how fidelity to our values has served us well in the past:

"It is the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they'd receive better treatment from America's armed forces than from their own government.

"It is the reason why America has benefited from strong alliances that amplified our power, and drawn a sharp and moral contrast with our adversaries.

"It is the reason why we've been able to overpower the iron fist of fascism, outlast the iron curtain of communism, and enlist free nations and free people everywhere in common cause and common effort.

"From Europe to the Pacific, we have been a nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are. And where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology."

On how things went terribly wrong after 9/11:

"Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, that all too our government often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And during this season of fear, too many of us - Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens - fell silent.

"In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people, who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach - one that rejected torture, and recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay....

"The decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable - a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass."

An important reminder of what's wrong with torture:

"I know some have argued that brutal methods like water-boarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence, I bear responsibility for keeping this country safe, and I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What's more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counter-terrorism efforts - they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all."

And a reminder of what's wrong with Guantanamo:

"There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America's strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. Indeed, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law - a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.

"So the record is clear: rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That is why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign. And that is why I ordered it closed within one year."

On the mess he inherited:

"In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. We are cleaning up something that is - quite simply - a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country....

"In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.

"There are no neat or easy answers here. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo."

On the current political climate:

"Now, over the last several weeks, we have seen a return of the politicization of these issues that have characterized the last several years. I'm an elected official, I understand that these problems arouse passions and concerns. They should. We are confronting some of the most complicated questions that a democracy can face. But I have no interest in spending our time re-litigating the policies of the last eight years. I want to solve these problems, and I want to solve them together as Americans. And we will be ill-served by the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I've heard words that are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country."

And again later:

"Now, as our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These are issues that are fodder for 30-second commercials. You can almost picture the direct mail pieces that emerge from any vote on this issue, designed to frighten the population. I get it.

"But if we continue to make decisions within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. And if we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future.
I have confidence that the American people are more interested in doing what is right to protect this country than in political posturing. I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution; so did each and every member of Congress. And together we have a responsibility to enlist our values in the effort to secure our people, and to leave behind the legacy that makes it easier for future presidents to keep this country safe."

On the notion that terrorists can't be safely held in American prisons:

"Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders - highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety.
As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following fact. Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal Supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said, the idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees, within the United States, is not rational."

On how, when it comes to transparency, even though he keeps some things secret, he's not like Bush. Includes his big news:

"Here's the difference....: whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions - by Congress or by the courts. We are launching a review of current policies by all of those agencies responsible for the classification of documents to determine where reforms are possible, and to assure that the other branches of government will be in a position to review executive branch decisions on these matters. Because in our system of checks and balances, someone must always watch over the watchers - especially when it comes to sensitive information."

On his general approach to transparency:

"[T]he common thread that runs through all of my decisions is simple: we will safeguard what we must to protect the American people, but we will also ensure the accountability and oversight that is the hallmark of our constitutional system. I will never hide the truth because it is uncomfortable. I will deal with Congress and the courts as co-equal branches of government. I will tell the American people what I know and don't know, and when I release something publicly or keep something secret, I will tell you why."

On how he's really, really not like Bush:

"In all of the areas that I have discussed today, the policies that I have proposed represent a new direction from the last eight years. To protect the American people and our values, we have banned enhanced interrogation techniques. We are closing the prison at Guantanamo. We are reforming Military Commissions, and we will pursue a new legal regime to detain terrorists. We are declassifying more information and embracing more oversight of our actions, and narrowing our use of the State Secrets privilege. These are dramatic changes that will put our approach to national security on a surer, safer and more sustainable footing. Their implementation will take time, but they will get done.

"There is a core principle that we will apply to all of our actions: even as we clean up the mess at Guantanamo, we will constantly re-evaluate our approach, subject our decisions to review from the other branches of government, as well as the public. We seek the strongest and most sustainable legal framework for addressing these issues in the long-term. Not to serve immediate politics, but to do what's right in the long term. By doing that, we can leave behind a legacy that outlasts my Administration, and that endures for the next President and the President after that; a legacy that protects the American people, and enjoys broad legitimacy at home and abroad."

On how those nutty people who want to find out what really happened are really only interested in finger-pointing, and are just as bad as the Bush dead-enders:

"It's no secret that there is a tendency in Washington to spend our time pointing fingers at one another. And it's no secret that our media culture feeds the impulse that lead to a good fight and good copy. But nothing will contribute more than that than an extended relitigation of the last eight years. Already we've seen how that kind of effort only leads those in Washington to different sides to laying blame. It can distract us from focusing our time, our efforts and our politics on the challenges of the future.

"We see that above all in the recent debate -- how the recent debate has obscured the truth and sent people into opposite and absolutist ends. On one side of the spectrum, there are those who make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism and would almost never put national security over transparency. And on the other end of the spectrum, there are those who embrace a view that can be summarized in two words: 'Anything goes.' Their arguments suggest that the ends of fighting terrorism can be used to justify any means, and that the president should have blanket authority to do whatever he wants, provided it is a president with whom they agree.

"And both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right. The American people are not absolutist, and they don't elect us to impose a rigid ideology on our problems."

On Cheney (OK, not by name):

"Every now and then, there are those who think that America's safety and success requires us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building. And we hear such voices today. But the American people have resisted that temptation. And though we have made our share of mistakes and course corrections, we have held fast to the principles that have been the source of our strength, and a beacon to the world."

On killing al Qaeda, and coming together as a nation:

"And I do know with certainty that we can and will defeat al Qaeda. Because the terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are; if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals.

"This must be our common purpose. I ran for President because I believe that we cannot solve the challenges of our time unless we solve them together. We will not be safe if we see national security as a wedge that divides America - it can and must be a cause that unites us as one people, as one nation."

In an astonishing bit of political theater, the cable networks cut away right after Obama's speech to show former vice president Cheney, the ultimate torture dead-ender, launching into his own speech at the American Enterprise Institute. Here is his prepared text. I'll have more on that tomorrow, but I can't imagine he said anything new. So read this and this and this for background.

Meanwhile, in other national security news, Elisabeth Bumiller writes in the New York Times: "An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad from the detention center in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, has returned to terrorism or militant activity, according to administration officials.

"The conclusion could strengthen the arguments of critics who have warned against the transfer or release of any more detainees as part of President Obama's plan to shut down the prison by January."

But, as Bumiller writes: "The Pentagon has provided no way of authenticating its 45 unnamed recidivists, and only a few of the 29 people identified by name can be independently verified as having engaged in terrorism since their release. Many of the 29 are simply described as associating with terrorists or training with terrorists, with almost no other details provided.

"'It's part of a campaign to win the hearts and minds of history for Guantánamo,' said Mark P. Denbeaux, a professor at Seton Hall University School of Law who has represented Guantánamo detainees and co-written three studies highly critical of the Pentagon's previous recidivism reports. 'They want to be able to claim there really were bad people there.'"

Devlin Barrett writes for the Associated Press: "The Obama administration is pressing ahead with its plan to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center, deciding to put a 'high value' detainee on trial in New York City despite resistance from some in Congress.

"Attorney General Eric Holder announced early Thursday that Ahmed Ghailani will be sent to New York City for trial, which would make him the first Guantanamo detainee brought to the U.S. and the first to face trial in a civilian criminal court."

By Dan Froomkin  |  May 21, 2009; 1:30 PM ET
Categories:  Looking Backward , Torture , Transparency  
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Cheney will stay in the spotlight for however long it takes for there to be a attack on America.

He will the fade away while saying "I told you so."

He will then re-appear when his views are rejected by the American people.

Hope always prevails in America. It may take a while. It returns.

History will be truly harsh on Cheney.

Posted by: tallertapas311 | May 21, 2009 2:14 PM | Report abuse

Great column as usual. But why is it no longer directly accessible from the Post's front page?

Posted by: lguy1 | May 21, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

For one thing, I don't expect Obama to live up to every liberal's hopes for transparency and justice in government. He's a politician, and the details are always more complicated than we guess through the media. This doesn't mitigate basic principles of human decency, of course, but it does make case-by-case decisions on how to conduct affairs much less predictable. So I'm not surprised that Obama's willing to use signing statements, or the executive privilege defense. I'm glad he's doing so far more sparingly than Cheney and Bush did, at the very least.

But there's a real debate here between the viewpoints of Cheney and Obama--and that's even if you're willing to take Cheney's speech today at face value, that he authorized torture only to prevent terrorist attack. The debate is between protecting the American people, and protecting the American Constitution. When and how do we sacrifice some of one to protect the other? Put another way, where do we define the line between security (protecting the people) and freedom (protecting the Constitution)? Cheney is clear: he favors security. Obama is more for protecting freedom.

One last comment: I'll say that Cheney, being a ferocious zealot with no shame, is a particularly vexing opponent for Obama. He's like a 5'4" streetfighter against an elegant, crafty middleweight boxer. The little guy's a solid piece of rock who can't be boxed with: he must be knocked out--but Obama doesn't have the punching power to do that.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 21, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Dick Cheney needs to keep speaking out in public as he did today. It provides foder for Rush Limbaugh to contimue to embarrass himself in public. These fools do nothing more then raise the poll numbers of the Democrates and sink the GOP.

Long live Cheney and Limbaugh!

Posted by: nstein1 | May 21, 2009 2:16 PM | Report abuse

Cheney was Cheney - the one thing I found funny was that he made a snide comment about the length of Obama's speech that is NOT in the official transcript I read. I guess he can't resist insulting the POTUS, though he shoots people in the face or tells Senators to F--- off when he gets insulted.

Posted by: cpusss | May 21, 2009 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Oh! Oh! Oh! You're surprised that The One says one thing and does another? Or says onr thing then says another? After the campaign where we tried to tell you this? You're not only Leftist, you're naive as well.

Posted by: ronjaboy | May 21, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Keep beating up on those straw men, ronjaboy. It's good for the cardiovascular system at least.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I agree with cpusss (post May 21, 2009 @ 2:18 PM) except for one point. Neither Cheney nor Limbaugh are capable of embarassment. These guys could be filmed peeing their skivvys in fear at the appearance of their own shadows, and they would later stand, straight-faced, blaming their incontinence on "the Liberals".

Posted by: Observer44 | May 21, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

I'm just a bit surprised the President dosn't know his Defense Secretary’s name... I guess the teleprompter screwed up again.

Posted by: Rameses | May 21, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

"I've heard words that are calculated to scare people" is also about Cheney.

Posted by: jpk1 | May 21, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

The right wing attacks are becoming more anemic by the week. Come on, intelligent ex-Republicans: where's the new conservative party to compete with the flat earthers that hijacked your old home?

Posted by: BigTunaTim | May 21, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Maybe nowhere, bigtunatime. Aside from the savage old guard, you've got the new guard: ditzy socialites like Meghan McCain, and people like Jindal, who got a degree in biology and then became a young-earth creationist.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 21, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Excellent coverage Dan, and good comment from whizbang9a. It's true, Cheney is a tenacious fellow, but then don't forget that in a way he is fighting for his freedom and reputation. No doubt the Republicans believed the Rovian fantasy of endless right-wing government, in which case they wouldn't have had to worry about the rule of law catching up with them. Now Cheney sees his reputation shot and can forsee the day when European and then US courts arraign him as a war criminal. That's why he's fighting so hard. He is, of course, an unscrupulous liar and the only efforts he made while VP were to enrich his corporate cronies. When, oh when, is a prominent media figure going to call him to account for the "thousands" of lives his torture saved? Where's the beef?

Posted by: gposner | May 21, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

When a man espouses two diameterically opposed objectives, his honesty must necessarily be called into question. Obama is just such a man.

Posted by: davidbn27 | May 21, 2009 3:26 PM | Report abuse

You got it, gposner. Even if you take Cheney's comments at face value, he's on the extreme side of things.

I don't take his comments at face-value at all. He wanted war with Iraq above nearly all else. 9/11 provided a justification, and torture was one of his tools. I think he's a revolutionary who despises the Constitution.

For the sake of the debate on this page, however, I was giving him a big huge benefit of the doubt--much more than he deserves.

Posted by: whizbang9a | May 21, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

There is only one way to clarify the issue: Indict and try the alleged criminals. Let the jurors debate. No one on either side of this he-said-she-said "debate" disputes that laws were broken. The only question is whether the laws should be enforced against powerful men. If violating the law to "save lives" is legitimate, then we need to release most of the mafia hit-men in federal prison.

Also, why is it "liberal" or "leftist" to demand that laws be enforced?

Posted by: motorfriend | May 21, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

Is this journalism or an entertainment site? "Rousing speech" and accepting his statements as proof of fact are not intellectually honest.

Posted by: the_node | May 21, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"For one thing, I don't expect Obama to live up to every liberal's hopes for transparency and justice in government. He's a politician, and the details are always more complicated than we guess through the media. This doesn't mitigate basic principles of human decency, of course, but it does make case-by-case decisions on how to conduct affairs much less predictable. So I'm not surprised that Obama's willing to use signing statements, or the executive privilege defense. I'm glad he's doing so far more sparingly than Cheney and Bush did, at the very least.
But there's a real debate here between the viewpoints of Cheney and Obama--and that's even if you're willing to take Cheney's speech today at face value, that he authorized torture only to prevent terrorist attack. The debate is between protecting the American people, and protecting the American Constitution. When and how do we sacrifice some of one to protect the other? Put another way, where do we define the line between security (protecting the people) and freedom (protecting the Constitution)? Cheney is clear: he favors security. Obama is more for protecting freedom.
One last comment: I'll say that Cheney, being a ferocious zealot with no shame, is a particularly vexing opponent for Obama. He's like a 5'4" streetfighter against an elegant, crafty middleweight boxer. The little guy's a solid piece of rock who can't be boxed with: he must be knocked out--but Obama doesn't have the punching power to do that.
Posted by: whizbang9a | May 21, 2009 2:15 PM | Report abuse"

"But there's a real debate here between the viewpoints of Cheney and Obama--and that's even if you're willing to take Cheney's speech today at face value, that he authorized torture only to prevent terrorist attack. The debate is between protecting the American people, and protecting the American Constitution. When and how do we sacrifice some of one to protect the other? Put another way, where do we define the line between security (protecting the people) and freedom (protecting the Constitution)? Cheney is clear: he favors security. Obama is more for protecting freedom."

if we adapt obama's stance, then the people must be free to defend themselves with their own weopans...
under VP Cheney, the goverment provides security for the people and protects them...
Under Obama, freedom doesn't mean people can't defend themselves, but I'm sure thats exactly what that means...

Posted by: DwightCollins | May 21, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

The only way to shut Cheney up is to put him on trial. The world should have done this already.

Posted by: SarahBB | May 21, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. I will ignore Cheney though, being the ugly in this case.

Actually, without saying it, I can see Obama referencing Geneva Conventions of War being that "prisoners of war" are detained until after the war is over. Too bad we declared an one-hundred year war against an ideology (terrorism) rather than a country. Must have been that rovian effect making the entire wars a political exercise like catching 800 terrorists. Gee, vote for us in 2004 ? I did and I have lived to regret that decision. Dad said to me, Bush and Cheney needed to finish those wars. I became a psuedo Democrat in 2006 and then made it official in 2008.

The other point I would like to express is the not so obvious, obvious methods which go back to the Frank Church Commission ? Hippy trips on LSD was another experiment they used back in the day to gain reliable human intelligence, hahahahahahahaha. Like a subject fed LSD in secret strapped down in front of strobe lights and Jimmy Hendrix would even be capable of giving reliable intelligence ? I know what I would say, "Hey I thought we were supposed to quarter this when we got to the bike rally." Old school all the way brother, old school.

Posted by: markwpa | May 21, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

SarahBB said:
The only way to shut Cheney up is to put him on trial. The world should have done this already.


True and Cheney knows this all too well. That is the reason he is becoming the GOP point man on this attack.

Cheney is making himself "too controversial to indict." Now if the US Government arrests him he can whine: "They're just trying to silence an opposing viewpoint!! Wah!"

"Shotgun" Cheney is certainly getting some sage media consultant advice as he gamely tries to avoid prison. His crimes are too numerous, however, to deflect with this minor media campaign.

Posted by: JC505 | May 21, 2009 4:05 PM | Report abuse

Is this journalism or an entertainment site? "Rousing speech" and accepting his statements as proof of fact are not intellectually honest.

Posted by: the_node | May 21, 2009 3:39 PM

As opposed to what the-node posts, which is closer to low-grade manure than to entertainment, commentary or journalism..

Posted by: sasquatchbigfoot | May 21, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

On how those nutty people who want to find out what really happened are really only interested in finger-pointing, and are just as bad as the Bush dead-enders:
Unless I miss my guess.. Obama just called Froomkin a NUT!!!

Posted by: sovine08 | May 21, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Obama is engulfed in fear. Not the fear of terrorist attacks, or even of Cheney being right about enhanced interrogation techniques to be employed in extreme circumstances.

Obama is afraid because he is slowly realizing the world does not work as his 'gee, i'm just like you, can't we all get along' outlook dictates.

Naivety, thy name is Obama.

Posted by: matt15 | May 21, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

It is fun to come here and watch the post of the liberal lapdogs that bow to Obama. You complain about the constitution and rule of law that Cheney supposedly ignored, yet turn the other way when looking at Obama's trampling the law in the auto industry. Obama looks helpless when dealing with real issues of National Security. I will give him credit for realizing, when his butt is on the line, that many of Bush's policies were indeed needed in the World we live in today. I am sure the four terrorists recently arrested (who by the way became Muslim in the American criminal prison system) were plants by Cheney prior to his speech today.

Posted by: shoedogkc | May 21, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

The biggest debate in the country is how we are abusing a few of the most zealous people who 8 years ago wanted to kill Americans everywhere? You libutards will find anything to whine about.
These people hated us before Guantanamo!!They don't need any other reasons! They probably respect the fact that we hit back!! Appeasing them only emboldens them.
Whine Whine Whine. Let's be sure to make facials and mudbaths available to them as well.

Posted by: yougottabekidding3 | May 21, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

The Obama side believes that 9/11 is a one off thing of the past. That if we trust the "detainees" enough they'll behave.
As Obama and Jon Stewart would say 'that's the American values that make us great".
Keep trusting and whining about the only guy who has the weight to say the truth: Cheney. Laugh at him because he's old and white! Ha ha an old white dude trying to scare us about some Muslims who like us more now because we'll shut down Gitmo.

Posted by: yougottabekidding3 | May 21, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Matt15 right on

Posted by: yougottabekidding3 | May 21, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Another really - really bad day for Baracky Hussein Obama and the DEMOCRUDS.

Posted by: hclark1 | May 21, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I've never thought Obama was that great of a speaker. I'm sure that's part of why I saw through him a full year ago and voted Green again.

Posted by: SocraticGadfly | May 21, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

"White House WORSHIP" alright!

Frommy, you, like Little Kiethie Drolbermann are setting yourselves up for the Proverbial "Big Fry" when the Spell breaks, and the deluded masses begin realizing just how "Had" they've been taken!

Six Months since the Election, and Little Tax-Cheat Timmy has not even arranged the Chairs on his Titanic!

And that Ship of Fools (Banking), is what People in this Country were COUNTING on being taken care of in what was LABELED an "EMERGENCY"!!!!

Did you hear about the US Citizen who recently went across the Border to get an Assisted Suicide?

In O'Bomba's single term;

there's a Job in Demand!

Posted by: SAINT---The | May 21, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

"An unreleased Pentagon report"

More selective leaking by the cowards in the Pentagon that created Guantanamo and want to keep it open. If they weren't cowards they'd state their opinions on the record.

Posted by: troyd2009 | May 21, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

I am so sick of Obama and others saying "Let's look forward not backward" that I could puke!

They say we should look forward, but apparently no one respects the Rule of Law anymore. Bush and his cronies flagrantly broke the law when they had Douglas Feith's Office of Special Plans [under Rumsfeld] fabricate intelligence to bolster their lies about the underlying reasons we went to war in Iraq; they authorized torture in blatant violation of the Convention Against Torture treaty signed & ratified by the U.S. government; they authorized warrantless wiretaps in direct violation of the 4th Amendment; and that's only the the few things we already know.

If Obama and others are so interested in moving forward and not investigating these MONUMENTAL CRIMES... then they have lost all credibilty.

Posted by: winoohno | May 21, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

Rameses teleprompter, good one, never gets old does it? It ranks up there with “But Clinton…” in the republican hall of fame.

Posted by: m_mcmahon | May 21, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I' m much more skeptical of Obama than I used to be.

He said he'd support Israel.

He said there was no room for anti-semitism in the Democratic Party.

He "threw us both under the bus"

So far, just lots of broken promises.

Posted by: UniversalHealthCareNow | May 21, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

The solution to dismantling Gitmo is to fund George W Bush's library in Texas. The library could include a theme park with live terrorists safely kept securely as a testament to the legacy of this great leader. His proud supporters can pay for interrogators to water board them. Cheney could be first to demonstrate these practices as nothing more than patriotic expressions to prove the false moralism of those who call it torture.

Posted by: CSTREB | May 21, 2009 5:53 PM | Report abuse

In the general prison population in a "Super Max",these criminals whould be singled out, abused, & some probably KILLED.There are prisoners that are in their own minds "Patriotic".
Congress was right,no one wants them in their State. Obama needs to drop this hot potato.

Posted by: sonnysideup | May 21, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

It is very telling that it is Cheney, not Bush, who is the point man defending "Bush" policies during the "Bush" Administration. Perhaps Dick Cheney truly was "Bush's Brain" all along.

The feeling I get from Cheney's ranting is that the man has a PROFOUND fear that he will be held accountable if he doesn't maintain political pressure on the Obama administration, and keep the President on the defensive.

What would Dick Cheney and his ideological aide David Addington have said or done if, during the run up to the Iraq invasion in 2002 and 2003, a Democrat with some moxie (unfortunately, an extinct specie of political animal) had exhibited the same pugilistic contempt for the Commander-In-Chief?

One can imagine the hew and cry to tar and feather such an individual with the accusation of disrespect, treason and anti-patriotism, whose actions would only give encourage America's enemies.

It seems to me that Cheney is guilty of the very thing for which he criticizes the President - attempting to maintain a climate which encourages terrorist recruitment.

Posted by: MillPond2 | May 21, 2009 6:15 PM | Report abuse

Please explain what value that more photos of torture would be to individuals or to this country. Who really needs to see more examples of inhumane treatment and humiliation of other humans? What does it say about the voyeur? Is there no recognition that releasing the photos so that the world can see the humiliation of the victims perpetuates the torture. What if this was you, your son, your father. Would you believe that idle curiosity seeker and perverse voyeurs had a RIGHT to see your shame? Of course, this inflames passions against us. So tell me what out weighs the safety of our troops and of our nation? Releasing the photos is any thing but a human rights issue. Transparency by necessity and by virtue should always have its limits. Ideology blinds reason.

Posted by: xclntcat | May 21, 2009 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Yes, under Bush America lost the moral high ground, which it managed to keep through two world wars and the cold war -- and hasn't recovered it yet. According to an Afghan proverb, "Who today is disgraced, tomorrow will be lost."

Posted by: cristca9 | May 21, 2009 6:37 PM | Report abuse

I am old enough to remember when the majority of Americans were not fear-driven cowards. Today, a creak in the night is enough to start millions of us scurrying for cover:

If a Halloween ghost whispers "Boo!," media pundits cite anonymous "reliable administration sources" as authority that "there is a specific threat to America's existence."

Moderate voters scream in panic, "the sky is falling."

Republicans demand that the U.S. "bomb someone, anyone."

The defense industry offers to "bomb Anyone for the right price."

Obama eloquently explains that after consulting his Wall Street advisors with investments in armament manufacturers, he resolutely refuses to bomb just Anyone, but has reluctantly decided to order the Marines to invade Iran.

Cheney, chortles "Whoopee!"


What a pitiful little people we are becoming.

Posted by: FoolontheHill1 | May 21, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

I'm tired of Dick Chaney. He lies endlessly; he is paranoid and delusional; we don't believe him; evidence and reality seems not to be in his vocabulary; he holds no office. He is derailing any progress; he want Pres Obama to fail; he can not tolerate anyone else in charge.

Eric Holder, please take all the steps to appoint a special prosecutor and get the Dick Chaney into a SuperMax prison away from the media ASAP. If that doesn't work, stuff a dirty gym sock in his mouth and fill it with water.

Posted by: stanassc | May 21, 2009 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Having never, so far as I know, been lied to by Barack, I'm inclined to trust his judgment on the issues cited by Dan, whose judgment, I likewise trust. My faith rests on my assumption our current POTUS has information unavailable to us, which may be naive but until proven otherwise, I don't have cause to doubt it.

Posted by: jhbyer | May 21, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

This is all a giant con game.

We're going to wind up with sky-high taxes and no universal health insurance.

Posted by: UniversalHealthCareNow | May 21, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

Why doesn't the Post get someone other Dan Froomkin write this column? He doesn't even attempt to display any sort of balance or see other points of view.

Obama's decisions not to release the photos and keep dangerous dangerous incarcerated are perfectly reasonable. If any dangerous ones get out, is there anyway to send them to a desert island with just Dan Froomkin?

Posted by: RealChoices | May 21, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Well, I am definitely feeling better about things after this great speech. He said we are going to try some of these aholes in Federal Courts, but he also said that none will be released into American society.

So it's going to be an Alice in Wonderland experience for them: Sentence First, Verdict later. Just as he is manipulating bankruptcy law to insure the "right" outcome for the unions, he seems to be saying that we won't try any terrorists where the possibility of an innocent verdict might be troublesome.

Or he believes, naively, that if our court system says an individual is innocent, then the country of origin will provide a welcome home. Not gonna happen.

Look, I've tried and tried to give this guy an even break, but he is so hopelessly caught up in his own beatification that he's not only dangerous but occasionally monumentally stupid, as he was in this speech.

Posted by: Curmudgeon10 | May 21, 2009 8:39 PM | Report abuse

Dan Froomkin is not a reporter, balance is no more a part of his requirement than Rush Limbaugh.

However, unlike Rush Limbaugh, Froomkin is scrupulous about his facts. Froomkin also includes a wide range of views.

As to dangerous dangerous (sic) put them in a prison in the US. We know how to run prisons.

Posted by: boscobobb | May 21, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

It is pretty much a known fact that Dick Cheney has a daughter who is on Anderson Cooper tonight claiming that there is no connection between Gitmo and Abu-Graib. So who was this guy Miller?

Posted by: repudar711 | May 21, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Cheney's power addiction raises its ugly head again. We saw it today.

Posted by: repudar711 | May 21, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

How on earth does Obama expect to recover the moral high ground, when he plans to imprison for life people not found guilty by due process of law, and, conversely, he won't prosecute people responsible for committing heinous crimes (torture) in spite of a statutory obligation to do so?

Posted by: cristca9 | May 22, 2009 6:35 AM | Report abuse

It is utterly amazing that there are people who read this column and still think that Cheney has a brain.

I don't bother reading editorials where I disagree with the columnist. Why do those of you commentors who are posting negative comments even bother? Go read Will or Gerson or Krauthhammer. If you love torturing both humans and our Constitution, then move in with Cheney and see how well you like it.
Both Cheney and his puppet were criminals before they were selected. The Iraq War was created for Cheney to make a fortune through Halliburton (remember his residuals) and they did so by false confessions from individuals who would say ANYTHING to get the torture to stop. Do a little research before posting and proof read your posts. Oh and get a dictionary.

Posted by: sailorflat | May 22, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

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