Thursday, May 21, 2009
A Tale of Two Speeches
Here is the text of former Vice President Cheney's speech.
If you have the time and interest, read both of them and, of course, draw your own conclusions about the virtues of each.
I found Obama's to be whiny and full of platitudes. I found Cheney's to be detailed and heartfelt. The President makes a mistake to stray from the effective programs of the Bush Administration and, fortunately, he probably won't stray far, despite his clearly disingenuous campaign promises.
When a country or other political or religious entity declares and wages war on you, they give up certain things, like access to our criminal courts. If they obey the rules of law contained in the series of Geneva conventions, they get certain "rights" as honorable prisoners of war, but if captured, they are in for the duration of the war, not as punishment, but to prevent them from returning to the battlefield. Most wars we have waged have been short, the longest in the past was abut 8 years. We're entering the 10th, at least, of the current war being waged against us by Muslim extremists. There is no end in sight. It could be a new Hundred Years War. Rough luck for the al Qaeda/Taliban types.
If honorable prisoners of war are in for the duration with no habeas corpus rights, why oh why would we even think about giving more rights to the dishonorable, illegal combatants who do not follow any of the Geneva recognized laws of war the least of which is to wear uniforms? It is stupid for Obama to promise access to criminal trials and constant legal review of the prisoner's status, to name but a few of the stupid ideas he put forth today. The country, to paraphrase Glenn Reynolds, is NOT in the best of hands.
Worst moments in Obama's speech:
Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that – too often – our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford.
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.
Vice President Cheney answered the two above quoted paragraph with the bulk of his speech. Let me just add this. We've seen on video, again and again, how the al Qaeda types treat the prisoners they take, they cut their heads off. They have done this nearly every time, both before and after we woke up from the vacation from history on 9/11/01. They torture and kill our uniformed soldiers not in retaliation for any perceived mistreatment of our prisoners but because that is their chosen path for waging war against us. To assert there is or could be a grain of added safety or mercy to our guys if we treat the illegal combatants with figurative kid gloves is the worst sort of naivety, and shocking in its ignorance of very recent history.