But Cheney's speech wasn't about national security. The previous administration's biggest neocon took a look around and was alarmed by the lack of pure terror in the American people. In Dick's perfect world, we should never feel safe. And by God, we should never show a glimmer of courage. The proper place for a good, patriotic American is trembling under the bed, terrified that some terrorist is going to come knocking on their door.
And so, in his speech, Dick mentioned 9/11 25 times. But behind all the attempts to frighten you was Cheney's own cowardice. The entire speech was an attempted justification of everything they did and every outrage they committed. President Obama will kill you, Dick said, because everything he and Democrats are doing is "a serious step to begin unraveling some of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11."
But how safe have our people been? Never mind that the responsibility for 9/11 falls directly in the Bush administration's lap -- three thousand people died because no one in the White House would take terrorism seriously. Since then, Americans haven't been safe. At this moment in time, 4,295 Americans have been confirmed dead in Iraq. How safe are they, Dick? Or don't they count? The math doesn't speak well of your record of "safety" -- going on 8,000 Americans have died since you guys took office. You don't get to brag about your record of keeping people alive.
But let's not forget Afghanistan. No matter how someone might feel about that war -- whether they support it or not -- it's hard to argue that we'd being fighting it if it weren't for 9/11. So those deaths are also the result of the Bush administration being asleep at the switch on September 11, 2001. Add 686 to that total of the number of times the Bush administration has failed to keep us safe.
And even to keep their lousy record on that score down to these unacceptable numbers, they felt they had to lie, to torture, to tap phones and read emails. Looked at objectively, Cheney has absolutely nothing to be proud of. The numbers show a record of failure.
Not surprisingly, that's not the way Dick wants you to see it. "To the very end of our administration, we kept al Qaeda terrorists busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets, instead of sharing ours with them," Dick said. "And on our watch, they never hit this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be continued until the danger has passed."
Why doesn't anyone point out that measuring success by the lack of a second 9/11 is setting the bar absurdly low? It's like Mrs. O'Leary bragging that her cow only burned down Chicago once. Yeah, that's a real accomplishment -- you managed to get through seven and a half years without screwing things up so disastrously again. That's great Mr. Cheney. You must be so proud.
After Dick tried to both scare the pants off us and bury us in BS, a wiser man had a better idea. "...I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values," President Obama said. "The documents that we hold in this very hall -- the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights -- these are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality, and dignity around the world."
"Freedom, fairness, equality, and dignity" aren't the words that come to mind when you picture some guy strapped down to a waterboard. Especially when that man is being tortured, not to get information to keep anyone safe, but to manufacture a link between Saddam Hussein and 9/11. When Cheney says, "You’ve heard endlessly about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists," he neglects to tell you about that. Trying to create a reason to invade Iraq doesn't actually qualify as an attempt to keep anyone safe. It's the opposite.
In the end, former Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney is just a ridiculous old coward. He claims that his administration made the "hard choices" in protecting the nation, but wants to disown those results that don't reflect well on him. How hard could these choices have been if Dick really believed they would come without consequence? Committing a crime because you think no one will ever find out about it isn't a "hard choice," it's a gutless act.
The Bush administration's record of keeping Americans safe is a failure on thousands of counts. One of the masterminds of those failures doesn't get to act as if he were a great success or a hero.
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