May 22nd, 2009
08:33 AM ET

On Gitmo, 2 show courage, 90 don’t

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/05/21/obama.speech/art.dickcheney.gi.jpg caption="Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been a sharp critic of Obama's national security policies."]

Ruben Navarrette Jr.
Special to CNN

Thursday's competing addresses on national security from President Obama and Vice President Dick Cheney put into sharp focus the contrast between those who think the military prison at Guantanamo Bay makes us safe and those convinced it makes us less so.

Which side are the American people on? Both actually. Polls show the public pretty evenly split on the question of whether Guantanamo is an asset or a liability.

That isn't likely to change as a result of the speeches. Both presentations were first-rate, comprehensive and - to a point - persuasive. More importantly, they showed courage - something missing in Congress, where lawmakers are only making a tough situation even tougher by playing politics with national security because of shortsighted provincialism.

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. nea-nea

    Dick Cheney and his supporters can say what they want this president is trying to do things the right way. I agree with one of the previous comment if Dick Cheney cared so much about the american people then why now ?where was he when the economy first collapsed where was he when americans was losing there homes, jobs etc. no word from him,but as soon come talk of investigation out comes Mr. Cheney.

    May 25, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  2. Isabel

    Americans don't want to torture. Nobody wants to torture. But after 09/11 nobody wants terrorist attacks or even live in uncertainty or with fear of possible attack.

    May 22, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  3. Sharon S

    I really admire Dick Cheney he is a man who stands his ground, says what he really believes and makes no apologies for it!! God Bless Mr. Cheney and his family!!
    I almost wish he were our President, I don't think he would be apologizing to any enemies or trying to be friends with terrorist!!

    He is standing up for OUR Rights he is telling the TRUTH something our Government can't seem to do much of anymore!!
    Especially Pelosi, she is a liar and a backstabber not a person who should be speaker of the house!

    I respect and admire Dick Cheney more than I can say for Obama and his House of Crooks!

    May 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm |
  4. earle,florida

    This might be alittle to much for some readers to swollow,but here's dinner? During the first Gulf War with Iraq we were asked by the Arabs/Kuwait to help there cause,because Saddam was going to wage war with his ill-equipped army of approximately 150 thousand soldiers. The reasons for the invasion are hazy,and dark to say the least,but Saudi Oil was worried. Under Bush#41,and orchestrated by Powell ,and Schwartnager leadership in the military field the war lasted a week at most,why? The British,and U.S. arieal bombardment by Toxic-Gas-Bombs,made quick ruin to Iraq's Army. Mass graves were bulldosed ,and every Iraq soldier alive or not in the path of these WMD's were buried(bulldosed,sound familiar?) in the desert,alive or dead,with never a word in the press. But, it's funny how things come out years later when we find our own military poisoned,and dying from the residual effects of this inhumane slaughter. Not even the poisonous gas mask that were given them could protect them from the deserts massive unrelenting sand storms. These Chemical mask weren't used to protect our troops from Chemical (Gas) Ali,the infamous Iraqi General charged with genocide of the Kurd's in the nothern province of Iraq,as we were spoon fed by our Generals. So please lets know the facts,as agent orange (defoliage) in Viet Nam (has taught/revealed) has killed half the survivng vets from every imaginable form of cancer! Thanks

    May 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Terry, TX

    Cheney was great .....short ...to the point...not apologizing to anyone...they did what they had to....and they would do it again. I salute them.

    Obama....well ...speech was too long....I think 25 references to the last administration....I thought the family references were a bit much. However, again he had no plan..just rhetoric... and really no reason to move the Gitmo guys? What's the reason...they are fine right there.
    Why would you endanger a city, guards, employees and their families? I don't understand...for what purpose. Why?

    Because if one American ends up on the internet decapitated with their head in their arm...there will repercussions for those political bums who voted for that. The Congress and Senate will be run out of DC.

    May 22, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  6. Rich, NC

    We are not more or less safe because of Gitmo and torture. And I'm not sure courage is the right word. It's about responsibility... something we learn as we grow up... As a nation (and a grownup) we have to assume responsibility for our actions to do things right. Sometimes we do things wrongly and we suffer the consequences. Politics & generalizations to often go a long way toward making the conclusions we draw erroneous. Fresh statements of al-Qaeda ties to Iraq are part of this. Fear is part of this as well. We need to get away from this if we are to make the right decisions.
    Gitmo is a symbol of abuse where many have been held without being charged for too long. Some Gitmo detainees have already been released; some back to SA where there is a rehab program, and some elsewhere. It was brought to our attention on "60 Minutes". Also, there was an excellent book about another detainee titled "The Challenge". It was the story of Salim Hamdan, the Yemeni driver for Osama who was captured and imprisoned at Gitmo for 5+ years. After he served a number of years in Gitmo and had a number of ups and downs with the justice system (detailed in the book), he was finally transferred to Yemen in 2008, and released in January to live with his family. Maybe it should be required reading before a discussion of the topic.
    Unfortunately Gitmo is like a BAD restaurant, it needs to be closed to do the right thing. What is done with the detainees has to be worked out on an individual basis.

    May 22, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  7. earle,florida

    I look at this terrible incident in american history as a simple equation. On one side we have terrorist around the world locked up in a Gulag,ninety miles off-shore of florida's Miami,and on the other side we have life-long imprisonment for men (terrorist?) fighting for their indigenous birth rights of sovereignty in their homeland (Afghanistan/Pakistan/Iraq/Syria/Iran,and Egypt to name a few)! The one contant for all this was predicated on WMD's which were never there,but still remains as a factor? The varible in all this comes down to there (who,why,when,where,and what for?) deliberate attach on U.S. soil using our commercial airplanes in unauthorized airspace,but ignored? Now that the variables,and contants are shuttled about,it seems a baseless argument if rationalized by a pragmatic mind,that we,yes,we americans left the door wide open for this to happen,and as far as our giving the enemy more planes to destroy us,well,it's time to do a little soul-searching,...of why this was allowed to happen in the first place,when the World Trade Center was attacked in the 90's? Finally,the Arab families of close ties to the Arab Terrorist that did the deed,were flown out of the States that day ,escorted by U.S. Military planes? This variable I can't equate,...? Happy Memmorial Day PS Gitmo should be closed,for it's the winning side of the equation!

    May 22, 2009 at 11:46 am |
  8. Dominic Abu

    A perfect solution for all this noise about Gitmo,is to do an exchange programme of sending Dick Cheney and Liz Cheney to Gitmo to supervise the detainees and perhaps they should also be waterboarded to feel the impact too.
    Dick cheney should stop playing God,thinking he knows everything that will happen about What makes America safe.He should step into the real world and know that hatred,hunger,homelessness,economic decadence,ignorance,moral decadence,political wranglings are some of the issues that are making America unsafe.

    May 22, 2009 at 11:24 am |
  9. Jose Feliciano

    What are the Cheney truly hiding? Dick Cheney was out of the public eye for much of his time as vice president and even when he left office. Now the truth is coming out regarding the war and he’s all over it. If he cared so much about the American people, why wasn’t he verbal about the economy or when the banks were failing or when people were losing their homes and cars. What is it that he is truly protecting?

    May 22, 2009 at 11:16 am |
  10. Cindy

    I don't care how safe our max prisons are or supermax. It's not the detainees that will be placed in them that I am worried about. It is the people on the outside that are in agreement with the terrorists and now will have more of a chance to try to bust them out or make a statement by causing havoc here. No matter where we house them they will always cry abuse and their followers will believe it and want revenge. There is no win to this.

    There are people who escape from these max prisons. You can't seriously think no one ever has! Come on people!! Hello..do a Google search!! You will find that many have escaped from max security. And you think that the terrorists won't try!? PLEASE!! Then they will be here in the states free to do as they please!! And as far as super max goes Obama is wrong one man escaped from one in North Dakota. So he was wrong in saying no one has ever escaped from a super max.


    May 22, 2009 at 10:06 am |