Friday, May 22, 2009

'Clash of the Titans' pits Obama against Cheney on Guantánamo closure

I can't be the only person who finds Dick Cheney's behaviour since the election of Barack Obama unedifying to say the least.

As Obama stands up and demands that the US lives up to the values enshrined in it's Constitution, Cheney essentially does the opposite, stating that those who make this argument must see 9-11 as, "a one off event." Even after all these years, Cheney still has no card to play other than the one which attempts to push people's fear buttons.

I suppose this is a natural consequence of the fact that Cheney authorised torture and must now worry that he might be prosecuted for the actions he indulged in, so he seeks now to make the case that anyone who disagrees with him is operating in a pre-9-11 mentality.

However, as Obama pointed out, this argument has essentially already been won. The American people were given a very clear choice at the last election between the new approach of Obama to the subject of national security or the mindset of the Bush years, which was on offer from John McCain.

The public voted overwhelmingly to reject the Bush/Cheney/McCain approach and to embrace the vision of Obama, something which you would be forgiven for not realising if one were to listen to Cheney, who talks as if this is still a matter of considerable debate.

However, Democrats and Republicans remain somewhat horrified at the notion of bringing those big bad terrorists to the US mainland:

"The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantánamo," Cheney told the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington. ""But it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America's national security."

Obama faces a tricky problem in meeting the deadline he set of closing Guantánamo by the end of the year. Democrats joined by Republicans voted overwhelmingly yesterday to deny Obama the funds that would allow him to do this, saying they do not want the detainees transferred to their states.

The Senate voted by 90 to 6 against providing him with the $80m he requested until he produces a plan to deal with the 240 detainees left at Guantánamo.

Addressing the issue today, Obama, speaking at the National Archives in Washington, a location chosen for its symbolism as home of original copies of the constitution and the declaration of independence, insisted he intended to stick to his plan to transfer some of the detainees to the US mainland.

He suggested this should not be a problem as they would be placed in super-max prisons from which no-one had ever escaped.

I've said it before but one often feels as if Obama is actually the only adult in the room. That Democrats and Republicans can publicly show such fear at bringing terrorists to the mainland is simply jaw dropping. Are they seriously saying that they think they would be in greater danger if a terrorist was locked up in a high security prison on the US mainland? Is their faith in their own high security prisons really that weak?

It appears to me as if US politicians treat their citizenry as if they are children, and encourage fears which are simply irrational on their face. The notion that US citizens are in greater danger should terrorists be housed in American high security jails is simply nonsensical, and yet members of both parties are behaving as if this is a serious worry.

They should be ashamed of themselves. I'd actually go as far as to say that anyone stupid enough to make that argument is unfit to hold office.

And the greatest difference between the world-view set out by Cheney - and how it contrasted with that of Obama - was, of course, the subject of torture. Cheney is not only arguing that he was right to engage in this barbarism, but he is setting Obama up to carry the can should another attack take place on US soil, implying that the fact that Obama refuses to commit war crimes leaves the US in greater danger.

Cheney was unapologetic about the harsh interrogation methods that he had approved, such as waterboarding. "I was, and remain, a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation programme. The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed," he said. "They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do."

He aligned himself with the Democrats, at least those in Congress who opposed transferring the detainees to the mainland.

He ridiculed the Obama administration for dropping the phrase "war on terror", saying that there were still people out there plotting to destroy US interests.

Cheney, stressing repeatedly that he and Bush had kept the US from a further attack after 9/11, appears to be setting up Obama to take the blame for another terrorist attack.

Cheney is making these arguments because he has no other choice. He is hardly going to admit now that what he did then was wrong, so he argues that what he authorised was essential and that Obama's failure to continue his policy is dangerous.

He's essentially - and I see no other way to interpret his stance - hoping for a terrorist attack so that he can say, "I told you so!"

It's clear that Cheney is not going to melt into the background, he's going to continually challenge Obama and, should the US be attacked again, use that attack to exonerate himself and his previous actions.

It's disgusting.

Obama has long encouraged everyone to, "look forward and not backwards". The problem here is that Cheney is also "looking forward", but he is looking forward to a terrorist attack which he thinks will justify all the evil deeds which he engaged in.

Obama should just bite the bullet and prosecute the old bugger. Let him make these disgusting arguments in a court of law. Let's see how they go down there.


It's notable that, as Cheney makes his immoral argument, even John McCain comes right out stating that waterboarding "is torture".

Cheney doesn't even have John McCain on board.


Olbermann on Cheney's insane speech.


My God, even David Brooks has come out against Cheney:

When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.

The inauguration of Barack Obama has simply not marked a dramatic shift in the substance of American anti-terror policy. It has marked a shift in the public credibility of that policy.
The truth is that, after the release of the Abu Ghraib photographs, the US stopped using these techniques. So, for most of the Bush second term there was no policy of enhanced interrogation, which only makes the Cheney charge that Obama is endangering the country all the more disingenuous.

Click title for full article.


nunya said...

"My God, even David Brooks has come out against Cheney: "

lol. You know it's bad for the party if Bobo pipes up :)

Kel said...

It seems that everyone is deserting them nowadays, the shite they are spewing is too much, even for the faithful.