Live Post: President Obama’s Remarks on the Closing of Guantanamo Bay

11:44 EDT TPM has a better live blog of Cheney’s remarks due to Joshua Micah Marshall’s superior ability to actually listen to what Cheney says. And a good commentary on Obama’s speech by Andrew Sullivan.

11:40 EDT Oh, I thought the speech was over, but Cheney just had to pause for a drink of water. It will be interesting to see how the media plays this and who they say won the “debate”.

11:30 EDT “So we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore need to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.” [no! there are not only two conclusions to draw from this! seriously, how can you argue with someone who thinks like this?]

11:25 EDT “Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.” [wow. Cheney is still push the Saddam Hussein link to terrorism. How can anyone have an argument with this guy when he just makes stuff up?]

11:22 EDT Cheney starts speech at AEI with unclassy “joke” about how long Obama’s speech took.

11:18 EDT Wrapping Up. “The terrorists can only succeed if they swell their ranks and alienate America from our allies, and they will never be able to do that if we stay true to who we are; if we forge tough and durable approaches to fighting terrorism that are anchored in our timeless ideals.”

11:10 EDT Will apply stricter test to “State Secrets” privilege. Still opposes creation of an independent commission- Congress is investigating and has authority to investigate [I agree with this- after rolling over during the Bush years, Congress needs to exercise some of its Constitutional powers.].

11:06 EDT Washington Independent has text of Cheney’s AEI speech that he will give immediately following Obama’s speech. I’ll be interested to see if he makes any changes.

11:05 EDT Security and Transparency: Defends release of Bush administration torture memos b/c practices in those memos are banned and defends blocking release of torture photos b/c they would inflame anti-American opinion- it would endanger the troops. [It’s almost like we are so not used to dealing with thoughtful judgment that we can’t understand the difference between these too cases.]

11:00 EDT Strategy for dealing with detainees: 1) will try detainees in US courts if they’ve violated US laws. 2) will use military courts if necessary. George Washington used military courts. Military courts will follow rule of law- evidence obtained by use of torture is offlimits. 3) 21 detainees have already been ordered released by the courts. 19 before Obama took office. 4) 50 detainees are approved to be transferred to other countries. 5) detainees we have no evidence on but that we think are a danger to US- still not sure what to do with them. “I will not release individuals who are a danger to the American people”.

10:50 EDT Obama is squarely placing blame for this situation on Bush administration. Cheney was supposed to begin speaking at the American Enterprise Institute at 10:45. It was reported earlier that he said he would wait until the President had finished. Obama is about halfway through his speech. Washington Post reports that the audience at AEI is listening to Obama’s speech.

10:45 EDT Guantanamo only resulted in three convictions. Previous administration already released 2/3 of prisoners. Guantanamo is symbol that creates more terrorists- makes America weaker. 240 prisoners are still in Guantanamo. We are cleaning up something that is – quite simply – a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.”

10:40 EDT Obama categorically rejects use of ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’- says they do not work and they undermine rule of law. Pres. quotes McCain: “As Senator McCain once said, torture ‘serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us.'”

10:36 EDT Advance text of Obama’s speech, New York Times.

10:35 EDT Most important responsibility is to keep people safe, etc. Documents in Archives are not just aging parchment. Must not turn back on principles of Constitution.

10:28 EDT Obama takes podium. The speech is at the National Archives and I can’t think of a better place to give this kind of speech. He is standing directly in front of the Constitution. What a change from the previous administration. It will be interesting to see what Cheney’s response is. If you ever get a chance to go to the Archives, don’t miss it.

10:25 EDT President Obama is expected to begin speaking shortly. He will be answering criticism by former Vice President Dick Cheney, among others, who say that closing the prison will not keep Americans safe and that the Obama administration does not have a plan for closing the prison. Watch live on CNN. Audio of the remarks at Whitehouse.gov/live.

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