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October 22, 2009

Dick Cheney speech: "We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys" (Video)

Topics: Political News and commentaries

Wednesday night, October 21, former Vice President Dick Cheney received the Center for Security Policy's Keeper of the Flame Award. His speech came after two top Barack Obama aides -- senior advisor David Axelrod and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel -- having gone on the TV talk shows Sunday and used very similar words to explain their latest lengthy policy review as the fault of the long-gone Bush administration ignoring the needs of Afghanistan for years, an accusation that was completely dismantled by Cheney in his speech when he blew the whistle on the Obama administration when Cheney said this was not only untrue, but that the Obama administration specifically asked the Bush administration not to announce their findings publicly.

Via Fox News:

In a speech to the Center for Security Policy, Cheney said the Bush administration handed Obama's transition team a policy review of the Afghan war conducted last fall to meet the new challenges posed by the Taliban.

"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," Cheney said.

Cheney's comments countered a recent claim by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel that the Obama administration had to form an Afghan war strategy from scratch because the Bush administration hadn't asked any key questions about the war and left it "adrift."

This account is confirmed by Karl Rove:
In an interview with CNN's John King on Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel said President Obama is now asking tough questions about Afghanistan "that have never been asked on the civilian side, the political side, the military side and the strategic side." It was a not so subtle dig at Mr. Obama's predecessor and was meant to distract from the White House's mishandling of the war.

The Bush administration did in fact conduct a top-to-bottom strategic review of Afghanistan in 2008. That review was provoked by two developments.

The first was that Pakistan's government wobbled starting in 2006. It cut deals with tribes that created safe havens for the Taliban and al Qaeda and then became distracted from fighting terrorism as President Pervez Musharraf was pressured to leave office and replaced by a new democratic government. The second was al Qaeda's decision to refocus its efforts on Afghanistan after having been driven from Iraq.

After consultations with the Obama transition team, the Bush administration's strategic review was not released nor were its recommendations implemented. Instead, the review was handed over to the incoming president. Drawing on it, Mr. Obama announced a "comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan" on March 27.

In other words, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and senior advisor David Axelrod lied on national television when they claimed that their latest lengthy policy review was the fault of the Bush administration ignoring the needs of Afghanistan for years.

Here's the video of Cheney's speech:

The complete text of is prepared remarks are here.

As Jennifer Rubin points out at commentary, Cheney also launched a broadside against the Obama administration's "hounding" of intelligence employees and assailing of interrogation measures that prevented attacks on Americans.

Rubin also predicted the White House response to Cheney's speech:

Cheney showed in the Guantanamo debate that the president's popularity (much reduced since then) is no substitute for cogent argument and smart policies. The White House once again will no doubt snarl in response, as they are wont to do in lieu of reasoned rebuttal. (And what would they say? " We are not dithering!") But Cheney's point is the central one for the American people and for elected leaders: just how do Obama's policies (e.g., reinvestigation of CIA operatives, release of interrogation memos and halt to enhanced interrogation techniques, delay on formulating an Afghanistan policy) improve America's safety? Unless the president can provide a concrete answer, he remains vulnerable. More important, so does America.

Cheney's point is indeed the central one for the American people and for elected leaders, and so far Obama's policies of reinvestigatingCIA operatives, releasing interrogation memos and halting enhanced interrogation techniques, delaying formulating an Afghanistan policy when one was clearly handed over to him by the Bush administration - one that he obviously acted on, has in no way improved America's safety, only made us more vulnerable. As Cheney said in his speech, 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.

Posted by Richard at October 22, 2009 6:28 AM

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