Obama Commencement Speech at the Naval Academy

May 22, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Obama was the commencement speaker Friday morning at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. While he had inspiring words for the graduates, Thursday's verbal sparring between the president and former Vice President Dick Cheney was still in the air.

The president addressed graduates Friday morning at the U.S. Naval Academy. "I have no greater honor than serving as your Commander In Chief."

The former Vice President's daughter, herself a former state department official, appeared Friday morning on Good Morning America to defend her dad. "I think taking the step of releasing the legal memos that laid out in great detail exactly what techniques we used in our enhanced interrogation program gave, as my dad said yesterday, the terrorists a new insert for their training manual."

A key disagreement is whether water-boarding and other so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on prisoners made the country more or less safe.

In a speech on Thursday, Obama said, "They did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts; they undermined them. And that is why I ended them once and for all."

Cheney countered in a press conference Thursday, "To completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness and would make the American people less safe."

The president did not mention the former vice president directly Friday, but acknowledged the debate and told graduates their future carries great responsibility. "When America strays from our values, it not only undermines the rule of law , it alienates us from our allies, it energizes our adversaries, and it endangers our national security and the lives of our troops. So as Americans, we reject the false choice between our security and our ideals. We can and we must and we will protect both."

As this debate continues, the president told the graduates the job of upholding American ideals and principals now falls to them. Around the world, he said, they are the new face of America.

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