President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney today gave back-to-back speeches on terrorism, national security and the fate of the Guantanamo detention facility.
And we will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I’ve heard words that, frankly, are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country.Loading ...
So I want to take this opportunity to lay out what we are doing, and how we intend to resolve these outstanding issues. I will explain how each action that we are taking will help build a framework that protects both the American people and the values that we hold most dear.
And I’ll focus on two broad areas: first, issues relating to Guantanamo and our detention policy; but, second, I also want to discuss issues relating to security and transparency.
Now, let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: We are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people.
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 — namely, highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety.
As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following face: Nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal, supermax prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Republican Lindsey Graham said, the idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational.
And from Cheney:
[This] administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism.
They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the President is on the path of sensible compromise.
But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.
You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States.
Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned, one lead that goes unpursued, can bring on catastrophe–it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American people are in the balance.
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