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Obama fires back at Cheney on 60 Minutes
David Edwards and Stephen C. Webster
Published: Sunday March 22, 2009


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Dick Cheney and the anti-terror policies of the Bush years have not "made us safer," according to President Barack Obama.

In an interview on Sunday night's 60 Minutes, the president offered a stern response to the former vice president's criticism that Obama has somehow made Americans "less safe."

"... The vice president is eager to defend a legacy that was unsustainable," said Obama, characterizing Cheney's politics as a line of thought which "has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world."

"I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney," said Obama. "Not surprisingly. You know, I think that Vice President Cheney has been at the head of a movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests. I think he's drawing the wrong lesson from history. The facts don't bear him out.

"I think he is ... That attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage to our image and position in the world. I mean, the fact of the matter is, after all these years, how many convictions actually came out of Guantanamo? How many ... How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn't made us safer.

"What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment, which means that there is constant effective recruitment of Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against U.S. interests all around the world."

"Some of it being organized by a few people who were released from Guantanamo," said interviewer Steve Kroft.

"Well, there is no doubt that we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals that we've got to make sure are not a threat to us, who are folks that we just swept up," Obama replied. "The whole premise of Guantanamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that, somehow, the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists."

"... This is the legacy that's been left behind and, you know, I'm surprised that the vice president is eager to defend a legacy that was unsustainable. Let's assume that we didn't change these practices. How long are we going to go? Are we going to just keep on going until, you know, the entire Muslim world and Arab world despises us? Do we think that's really going to make us safer? I don't know a lot of thoughtful thinkers, liberal or conservative, who think that was the right approach."

This video is from CBS' 60 Minutes, broadcast Mar. 22, 2009.


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