President Obama displayed this morning exactly why he won the confidence of voters last year:
WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama forcefully defended his plans to close the Guantanamo detention camp Thursday and said some of the terror suspects held there would be brought to top-security prisons in the United States despite fierce opposition in Congress.
Obama spoke one day after the Senate voted resoundingly to deny him money to close the prison, and he decried "fear-mongering" that he said had led to such opposition.
He insisted the transfer would not endanger Americans and promised to work with lawmakers to develop a system for holding detainees who can't be tried and can't be turned loose from the Navy-run prison in Cuba.
"There are no neat or easy answers here," Obama said in a speech in which he pledged anew to clean up what he said was "quite simply a mess, a misguided experiment" at Guantanamo that he had inherited from the Bush administration.
Partial transcript here:
I stand here, today, as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My father came to our shores in search of the promise that they offered. My mother made me rise before dawn to learn their truths when I lived as a child in a foreign land. My own American journey was paved by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple words – "to form a more perfect union." I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief. And as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.
I make this claim not simply as a matter of idealism. We uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and keeps us safe. Time and again, our values have been our best national security asset – in war and peace; in times of ease and in eras of upheaval.
Fidelity to our values is the reason why the United States of America grew from a small string of colonies under the writ of an empire to the strongest nation in the world.
It is the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they’d receive better treatment from America’s armed forces than from their own government.
It is the reason why America has benefited from strong alliances that amplified our power, and drawn a sharp and moral contrast with our adversaries.
It is the reason why we’ve been able to overpower the iron fist of fascism, and outlast the iron curtain of communism, and enlist free nations and free peoples everywhere in common cause and common effort.
... And during this season of fear, too many of us – Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens – fell silent.
In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people, who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach – one that rejected torture, and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
We'll have Dick
head Cheney's response up shortly.