Last week, in his speech at the National Archives, President Obama spoke of the “so-called enhanced interrogation techniques” that
... 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. ... In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts ...
And, on closing the prison at Guantanamo:
Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world. ...
[I]nstead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
Almost simultaneously, in another part of Washington, Vice President Cheney, began and ended his speech with 9-11 as the justification for everything that followed: “9-11 made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a clear strategic threat ...” He defended the “enhanced interrogation” by arguing that:
The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, and the right thing to do. ... to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe.
And Cheney’s view of values was that:
... no moral value held dear by the American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more consistent with American values than to stop them. ... For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings.
We can thank God the Cheney/Bush years (as someone put it) are over. Let's pray that the Obama years bring more commonsense, good will, and real health to the nation of America.