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Obama, Cheney face off on national security

(Credit: Politirazzi)

(AP)

By Emily Ngo

President Barack Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney traded blows in a crosstown showdown Thursday, defending their respective stances on national security in dueling speeches.

At the National Archives in Washington, D.C., Obama sought to reinforce plans to shutter the Guantanamo Bay prison facility and move some detainees to high-security prisons in the United States.

“We will be ill-served by the fearmongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue,” he said, adding that U.S. prisons are tough enough to contain the detainees.

Though Obama’s Senate allies have deterred the closure by withholding funding, federal prosecutors Thursday moved to bring a detainee to New York City for the first Guantanamo trial in the United States.

Meanwhile, at the American Enterprise Institute, Cheney asserted that measures such as clandestine surveillance and harsh interrogation techniques have kept the country safe from terror attacks since 9/11 and “made the United States a far tougher target.”

The 68-year-old Republican accused Obama and supporters of “contrived indignation and phony moralizing” in classifying some methods, including waterboarding, as torture.Amid a spate of media appearances, Cheney — out of the public eye for much of his time as vice president — has emerged as the most vocal high-ranking Bush official to criticize the Obama administration.

Obama, 47, addressed his decision to release top-secret CIA memos on the harsh interrogations of terror suspects but withhold photos of detainee abuse from the public as striking “the right balance between transparency and national security.”

Cheney countered that secrecy was a means that justified the end — making the United States less susceptible.

“In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground. And half-measures keep you half-exposed,” the former vice president said.

In the end, the rivals — and eighth cousins — agreed the safety and security of Americans is a top priority.

“There are no neat or easy answers here,” Obama said.

(With AP/The Washington Post)

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