An extraordinary scene
played out Thursday
with what amounted to a Lincoln-Douglas-style debate between a popular sitting president
and an unpopular former vice president.
The former veep won, hands down.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney's
speech at the American Enterprise Institute
had been scheduled for weeks
before President Obama quite obviously
tried to drown out Mr. Cheney by speaking on the same topic beginning exactly two minutes before Mr. Cheney was scheduled to take the AEI podium. In his 50-minute jeremiad, Mr. Obama repeatedly took nasty shots at Mr. Cheney and the administration he served, questioning not just the preceding administration's judgment, but also its motives and integrity.
Against Mr. Obama's insults, rhetoric and studied poses at his teleprompter, the former vice president answered with forceful words married to an understated tone of utter seriousness, with no electronic aids.
Mr. Obama accused the Bush administration of jettisoning the principles of the Constitution "for expedience sake." He accused his critics of "political posturing." And he said that "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."
Mr. Cheney responded that neither values nor the law had been set aside. He said that carefully selected CIA agents had been "especially prepared to apply techniques within the boundaries of their training and the limits of the law. Torture was never permitted, and the methods were given careful, legal review before they were approved. Interrogators had authoritative guidance on the line between toughness and torture, and they knew to stay on the right side of it."
Those interrogations, Mr. Cheney said, "prevented the violent death of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of innocent people." The former vice president complained, rightly, that memos about the interrogations that Mr. Obama released provided "less than half the truth" because they were "carefully redacted to leave out references to ... specific terrorist plots that were averted." Yet: "For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the public has a right to know the methods of the questions, but not the content of the answers."
The chattering classes have been blasting Mr. Cheney for weeks for speaking out so forcefully on these issues on behalf of positions the chatterers say are deeply unpopular. However, they can't accuse him of self-serving ambition. As he noted, he spoke "as a private citizen - a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek."
The remarkable sight of such a harshly criticized former leader standing so unbowed brings to mind some words from poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson: Mr. Cheney is exhibiting "some sense of duty, something of a faith, some reverence for the laws ourselves have made ... some civic manhood firm against the crowd."
The crowd ought to heed Mr. Cheney and rally behind him. By defending our intelligence officers, he defended America.
DICK CHENEY’S COMPELLING WITNESS,
THE FORMER VEEP IS A PATRIOT IN FULL
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
22 Friday 09
The spectacle of two duelling speeches with a mile of each other in downtown Washington was extraordinary. I was at the Cheney event and watched Obama's address on a big screen beside the empty lectern that the former veep stepped behind barely two minutes after his adversary had finished.
So who won the fight? (it's hard to use anything other than a martial or pugilistic metaphor). Well, most people are on either one side or the other of this issue and I doubt today will have prompted many to switch sides.
But the very fact that Obama chose to schedule his speech (Cheney's was announced first) at exactly the same time as the former veep was a sign of some weakness.
Obama's speech and Cheney's empty lectern. Pic: Toby Harnden
The venues for the speeches said something. Obama showily chose the National Archives, repository for many of the founding documents of the US, and spoke in front of a copy of the Constitution - cloaking himself in the flag, as Republicans were often criticised for doing.
To hear Cheney speak, we were crammed into a decidedly unglamourous and cramped conference room at AEI, favourite think tank of conservative hawks.
The former veep's speech was factual and unemotional and certainly devoid of the kind of hokey, self-obsessed, campaign-style stuff like this, from Obama's address today: "I stand here today as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My father came to these shores in search of the promise that they offer. My mother made me rise before dawn to learn their truths when I lived as a child in a foreign land."
In terms of Obama's purported aim for his speech - to present a plan for closing Guantanamo Bay aimed at placating Congress - he failed. The reception on Capitol Hill was lukewarm with even Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.
Dick Cheney responds Pic: Toby Harnden
Cheney's speech wasn't stylish, there were no rhetorical flourishes and the tone was bitingly sarcastic and disdainful at times. But it was effective in many respects and Cheney showed that Obama is not invulnerable. Here are 10 of the punches he landed on the President's jaw:
1. "I've heard occasional speculation that I'm a different man after 9/11. I wouldn't say that, but I'll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities."
Anyone who was in New York or Washington on 9/11 (I was here in DC) was profoundly affected and most Americans understand this. Obama was, as far as I can tell, in Chicago. His response - he was then a mere state senator for liberal Hyde Park - was startlingly hand-wringing and out of step with how most Americans were feeling. This statement by Cheney reminds people of the tough decisions he and Bush had to make - ones that Obama has not yet faced.
2. "The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law- enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact: arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case closed."
This was the pre-9/11 mindset, much criticised after the attacks. Many sense that this is the approach Obama is increasingly taking.
3. "By presidential decision last month, we saw the selective release of documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a bold exercise in open government, honoring the public's right to know. We're informed as well that there was much agonizing over this decision. Yet somehow, when the soul searching was done and the veil was lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given less than half the truth."
The release of the documents was a nakedly political move by Obama and Cheney called him on it. This passage from Obama's speech today came across as completely disingenuous: "I did not do this because I disagreed with the enhanced interrogation techniques that those memos authorized, and I didn't release the documents because I rejected their legal rationales -- although I do on both counts. I released the memos because the existence of that approach to interrogation was already widely known, the Bush Administration had acknowledged its existence, and I had already banned those methods."
4. "It's hard to imagine a worse precedent filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse than to have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its predecessor. Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and lawyers, who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger here is a loss of focus on national security and what it requires."
Obama's suggestion that Bush administration officials might be prosecuted for legal and policy judgements about what was an was not permissible in interrogations was chilling. I doubt most Americans have any enthusiasm for such a witch-hunt and it flies in the face of Obama's stated desire not to "re-litigate" the Bush years.
5. "We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country, things we didn't know about al Qaeda. We didn't know about al Qaeda's plans, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we did not think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all."
The political climate is very different now from what it was just after 9/11 but it could change again in a heartbeat if and when there is another terrorist attack. Most Americans do not favour torture but do want the CIA and other agencies to question suspected terrorists very vigorously indeed if there is any chance they might know something about an attack on the US homeland.
6. "On his second day in office, President Obama announced he was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came with little deliberation, and no plan. Now the president says some of these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries; but so far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists."
Obama's grand announcement at the start of his administration that Gitmo would be closed within a year was clearly not properly thought out. If he fails to achieve what he promised, he will pay a big political price and Cheney was marking his card on the issue.
7. "The administration has found that it's easy to receive applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo, but it's tricky to come up with an alternative that will serve the interest of justice and America's national security."
The notion that Obama makes gestures designed to court popularity abroad is one that could find increasing resonance - many Republicans strongly suspect it already.
8. "If fine speechmaking, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field."
As Cheney said this, sarcasm dripped from his lips. Obviously "fine speechmaking" but no real substance is not a new charge against Obama and it hits home. And Cheney successfully mades the point that much of the rhetoric from the Left tends to suggest that if only the US did not waterboard people, if only the US was viewed as Obama rather than Bush, Venus rather than Mars then it would be universally loved and al-Qaeda would wither away. UNfortunately, that's not the real world.
9. "It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the president himself. President Obama has used his declassification authority to reveal what happens in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials."
Cheney is pushing Obama to declassify documeents relating to the information gained from terrorist suspects who were subjected to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques. This puts Obama in a bind. If he does so, it prolongs an argument he wants to move on from and prolongs the Obama vs Cheney meme that is distracting and doesn't really help him. if he doesn't, he looks like he has something to hide.
10. "To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, 7- 1/2 years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized."
It's indisputably an achievement of the Bush administration that it prevented the US from being attacked after 9/11. By ramming this point home, Cheney tees things up for some very tough questioning of Obama in the event that the US is attacked again.
Barry Soetoro aka Barack Hussein Obama
because he is not eligible to be President of the United States
because he is not a Natural Born Citizen
as required by Article Two, Section One, Clause Five
of the United States Constitution.
This is a fact regardless of
where he was born (Mombassa, Hawaii, Chicago, Mecca or Mars).
He is not a Natural Born Citizen
because he was not born of
BOTH OF WHOM WERE UNITED STATES CITIZENS
at the time of his birth.
His father was a subject/ciitizen
of Kenya/Great Britain at the time of his birth and afterwards.
His mother was too young to pass on her US citizenship
according to the law in effect when he was born.
Check it out:
His usurpation cannot be corrected by Congress,
it can only be corrected by his resignation, his removal
by an amendment to the Constitution
which will never happen.
- Leo Rugiens
WASHINGTON D.C., April 1, 2009: In a move certain to fuel the debate over Obama's qualifications for the presidency, the group "Americans for Freedom of Information" has released copies of President Obama's college transcripts from Occidental College. Released today, the transcript indicates that Obama, under the name Barry Soetoro, received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia as an undergraduate at the school. The transcript was released by Occidental College in compliance with a court order in a suit brought by the group in the Superior Court of California. The transcript shows that Obama (Soetoro) applied for financial aid and was awarded a fellowship for foreign students from the Fulbright Foundation Scholarship program. To qualify, for the scholarship, a student must claim foreign citizenship. This document would seem to provide the smoking gun that many of Obama's detractors have been seeking.
The news has created a firestorm at the White House as the release casts increasing doubt about Obama's legitimacy and qualification to serve as president. When reached for comment in London, where he has been in meetings with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Obama smiled but refused comment on the issue. Meanwhile, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs scoffed at the report stating that this was obviously another attempt by a right-wing conservative group to discredit the president and undermine the administration's efforts to move the country in a new direction.
Britain's Daily Mail has also carried the story in a front-page article titled, "Obama Eligibility Questioned", leading some to speculate that the story may overshadow economic issues on Obama's first official visit to the U.K.
In a related matter, under growing pressure from several groups, Justice Antonin Scalia announced that the Supreme Court agreed on Tuesday to hear arguments concerning Obama's legal eligibility to serve as President in a case brought by Leo Donofrio of New Jersey. This lawsuit claims Obama's dual citizenship disqualified him from serving as president. Donofrio's case is just one of 18 suits brought by citizens demanding proof of Obama's citizenship or qualification to serve as president.
Gary Kreep of the United States Justice Foundation has released the results of their investigation of Obama's campaign spending. This study estimates that Obama has spent upwards of $950,000 in campaign funds in the past year with eleven law firms in 12 states for legal resources to block disclosure of any of his personal records. Mr. Kreep indicated that the investigation is still ongoing but that the final report will be provided to the U.S. attorney general, Eric Holder. Mr. Holder has refused to comment on the matter.
According to Associated Press story shown below, Obama's tramscripts from Occidential College show that he was an undergradraduate at the school under the name Barry Soetoro, and received financial aid as a foreign student from Indonesia. I did a search using "Smoking gun finally found."
Here are a few of the websites that came up. None said it was false.