As prepared for delivery
Vice President Cheney Remarks at the American Enterprise Institute Thursday, May 21, 2009
Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction. It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was, they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and they asked me to head up the search committee.
I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently. Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.
Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.
Full Text: President Barack Obama on National Security, Torture, Guantanamo – National Archives – May 21
These are extraordinary times for our country. We are confronting an historic economic crisis. We are fighting two wars. We face a range of challenges that will define the way that Americans will live in the 21st century. There is no shortage of work to be done, or responsibilities to bear.
And we have begun to make progress. Just this week, we have taken steps to protect American consumers and homeowners, and to reform our system of government contracting so that we better protect our people while spending our money more wisely. The engines of our economy are slowly beginning to turn, and we are working toward historic reform of health care and energy. I welcome the hard work that has been done by the Congress on these and other issues.
In the midst of all these challenges, however, my single most important responsibility as President is to keep the American people safe. That is the first thing that I think about when I wake up in the morning. It is the last thing that I think about when I go to sleep at night.
The Politico is reporting that on Thursday, a day former Veep Dick Cheney is scheduled to give a speech titled, “Keeping America Safe,” President Barack Obama will give a major speech outlining the “political and intellectual” framework behind his anti-terror stance and all things related to detainee treatment.
Mr. Cheney, meet Mr. Obama – you might want to talk to Mr. McCain about bringin’ the scary hype against the man who seems to have re-invented hope.
I can see it now. Cheney, talking like Burgess Meredith’s Penguin character from the old Batman TV series, spitting all the worn out Bush era lines about fighting “them” over there so we don’t have to fight “them” here. Through teeth clenched around a cigarette holder he might even throw in a few nasal, conspiratorial giggles as he derides Democrats as soft.
On the other side of the split screen is the man who is steady, unafraid. Barack Obama will use his moment to teach, to inspire. Cheney will undoubtedly use his moment, in front of a partisan crowd at the American Enterprise Institute to stoke the flames that divide us.
America will once again be reminded what a great choice she made in November.
I’ll be the first to say that as an Obama voter, I’m not down with the whole cult of personality thing. I’ve criticized the Administration’s policies of feeding corporate America while middle America is hungry for work. I criticized recently the flip-flop on the release of detainee abuse photos.
But of one thing I’m fairly certain. When President Obama speaks on big issues, he speaks from a carefully considered, thoughtful point of view. His values – some may label them “Left” – go into his positions, but I do believe that all sides of the issues are considered. This pragmatism, something entirely missing from U.S. national politics since Bush 41, leads to decisions like that of using military tribunals to adjudicate some of the Guantanamo detainee cases. When you’re pragmatic and you compromise you rankle the extremes. Since most of us inhabit the space more near the center, that’s O.K.
I’m looking forward to this speech from President Obama on Thursday like no other public appearance he’s made since the address to the Joint Session of Congress. I’ll take in the coverage of Cheney also. I just won’t expect anything of value.
Could a storyline leaked to the New York Times’ front page on Monday signal an end to America’s codependence on an untrustworthy Pakistan?
Despite the erratic behavior of the Pervez Musharraf government for most of George W. Bush’s presidency, of the Big Worry — Pakistan’s nukes — we were always told, no problem. I can remember Pentagon and Bush Administration officials speaking cryptically of fail-safe mechanisms which would keep the weapons or nuclear material from ever falling into the wrong hands.
(Source: NBC’s Meet the Press)
MR. GREGORY: We’re back. King Abdullah of Jordan spent the last week here in Washington with a full agenda: meeting with the president, the secretary of state, congressional leaders and a full military arrival ceremony at the Pentagon. Before returning to Jordan on Friday, he stopped here at MEET THE PRESS for an exclusive interview.
Your Majesty, welcome back to MEET THE PRESS.
KING ABDULLAH II: Thank you very much.
MR. GREGORY: President Obama is now the third U.S. president that you have worked with. You spent time with him this week and even during the campaign. Tell me your impressions here as he comes upon 100 days in office?
KING ABDULLAH II: Well, I–from I think day one that I, I, I met him, a very impressive man. A lot of depth. A lot of, I think, instinctive understanding of the challenges that the world faces. And obviously I’m here in Washington to talk about relaunching negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Arabs, and we had a meeting of the minds, very fruitful discussions. And I think he has a clear understanding of, of what the challenges are.
Somehow I don’t think this is very likely, but here goes from the Times of London:
Baitullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taleban, threatened yesterday to launch an attack on Washington that would “amaze everyone in the world” as he claimed responsibility for the raid on a police academy in Lahore and boasted of a new regional militant alliance.
Mr Mehsud, for whom the United States offered a $5 million reward last week, said that Monday’s raid, which killed seven police officers, was retaliation for US drone attacks on Pakistan’s northern tribal areas, now the main hub of Taleban and al-Qaeda activity.
The 35-year-old leader of Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan (Movement of Taleban Pakistan), made the claims after taking the highly unusual step of telephoning Western news organisations from an undisclosed location.
“We wholeheartedly take responsibility for this attack and will carry out more such attacks in future,” he said.
“Soon we will launch an attack in Washington that will amaze everyone in the world … The maximum they can do is martyr me. But we will exact our revenge on them from inside America.”
Encouraging stance on the aid we give to Pakistan. It’s been well-documented that much of the billions which have been directed to Pakistan since 9/11 has disappeared down a rat hole. In a briefing today in Washington, President Obama’s point man on Afghan-Pak policy, Bruce Riedel, said that U.S. funds will be more closely monitored this time:
Q Thank you. The President mentioned the Kerry-Lugar bill, billions of dollars’ worth of aid to Pakistan. He also said that Pakistan won’t be given a blank check. So I’m wondering what restrictions does the administration want to see on that money specifically?
And also, how do you react to statements from some senators, such as Senator Levin, who have said that this strategy places too much dependence on the Pakistani government to deal with extremists, and perhaps gives too much of a reliance on them to help us make progress in Afghanistan?
MR. RIEDEL: I’m not going to comment on Senator Levin’s remarks. I’ll say this: For the last eight years, Pakistan received billions of dollars in support from the United States — much of it was unaccountable; much the Pakistanis don’t even know where it went.
As the President indicated in his speech, we’re going to make sure that there is rigorous oversight by an Inspector General’s office. And we’re going to work very, very intensively with our Pakistani partners, the democratically elected civilian leadership in Pakistan, to see that we’re moving in the right direction, in the same direction that we want to go.
(Source: White House Transcript)
(Source: New York Times)
Good morning. Today, I am announcing a comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
This marks the conclusion of a careful policy review that I ordered as soon as I took office. My Administration has heard from our military commanders and diplomats. We have consulted with the Afghan and Pakistani governments; with our partners and NATO allies; and with other donors and international organizations. And we have also worked closely with members of Congress here at home. Now, I’d like to speak clearly and candidly to the American people.