Obama vs. Cheney on National Security

May 21, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
President Obama repeated his determination Thursday to close the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center even though congress has so far refused to pay for it. Former Vice President Dick Cheney, one of the president's fiercest critics, also spoke Thursday about terrorism.

It's an executive branch smack-down. One president and one former vice president defending their strategies for protecting the country from terrorist attacks.

"These are extraordinary times for our country," said President Obama

Obama wants the Guantanamo Bay military prison shut down, an idea rejected by members of congress who don't want detainees transferred to U.S. soil.

Thursday in a speech at the national archives, the president tried to shed more light on what he plans to do with 240 prisoners still being held. "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. Highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety."

Since taking office, President Obama has worked to dismantle national security policies put in place by the Bush Administration. He ordered secret C.I.A. prisons closed and released so-called torture memos that allowed harsh interrogation techniques like water-boarding.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Thursday Mr. Obama's actions are making the country less safe. "The danger here is a loss of focus on national security. I would advise the administration to think very carefully about the course ahead."

The two men don't disagree on everything. Cheney praises President Obama's focus on Afghanistan and for last week's decision not to release photos of prisoners in U.S. custody being abused.

Both men say their goal is to protect the country, they just don't agree on how. President Obama said he hopes the national security debate will not become a wedge that divides the country.

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