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Ear to the Ground

Obama Defends Gitmo’s Closure, Cheney Rebukes It

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Posted on May 21, 2009
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

President Obama delivers an address on national security, terrorism and the planned closing of Guantanamo Bay prison at the National Archives in Washington on Thursday.

President Obama spoke on Thursday to clean up the “mess” that Guantanamo Bay has become and stood firmly by his decision to close the detention center. The speech came after the Senate voted 90-6 to block $80 million for shutting down Gitmo.

He also attempted to reassure Americans in NIMBY mode that “nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal supermax prisons.”

The New York Times:

“I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face,” the president said.

Nevertheless, despite the evil intentions of some Guantánamo detainees and the undeniable fact that Al Qaeda terrorists are determined to attack America again, United States citizens should not feel uneasy about a relatively small number of detainees being imprisoned in the American homeland, the president said.

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You can find President Obama’s full speech here

Meanwhile, across town, former Vice President Cheney gave a speech harshly criticizing Obama’s actions and defending the anti-terrorism policies of the Bush administration.

USA Today:

“To call this a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and it would make the American people less safe.”

“The (Obama) administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half measures keep you half exposed.”

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 27, 2009 at 5:00 pm Link to this comment

By Bluej, May 27 at 6:41 pm #

Hardly a majority of Americans want a ban on concealed carry, quite the contrary.

Virginia passed it years ago and crime instantly decreased.  It was an outstanding success.

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By Bluej, May 27, 2009 at 11:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

@ Patrick henry / Oh yea , well if you are going camping i see an excuse to carry a gun. if your hunting on your camping trip, But what i am talking about if just going to the park in my local quiet suburban neighborhood, also now i have to worry about my child who goes to our quiet local suburban neighborhood park to play sports, This is what i am taking a stand against. My freedom to enjoy a nice quiet walk in the park w/out being in between a gun fight or being a witiness to a shooting.
This direction would of never happened under George Bush and he was more of a conservative gun rights person then Barack Obama. This is so upsetting, Oh yea, Patrickhenry I will be turning this around (there will not be any federal law to allow loaded consealed guns in open parks), unless there is a firing range within the park. The freedoms of the majority of Americans is being violated by the passing of this law.

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 25, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

By bluej, May 23 at 8:55 pm #

It is likely you will never know who has the guns and who doesn’t, neither will the crimminals who mean to prey on you and your family.

Crimminals don’t care about gun laws in parks and will carry them in an effort to take anything you have including your life.  It happens quite frequently if you haven’t read the papers. 

I intend to go camping prepared and don’t think you and your “brethern” have any say about it.

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By bluej, May 23, 2009 at 1:55 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Can you believe now we have to tend with this bill that allows persons unknown to us to carry guns in the parks where we are w/ our families play w/ our children and w/ our pets. This is crazy the reason being that the credit card bill is so important that in order to get it passed we the people who dont carry guns, and would rather not be around guns, have to trust any Tom, Dick or Harry….And we already know we cant trust Dick, but yet he still has a gun.and will be allowed to carry it into the park. We will lose the West it is not how the West was won. The west was won when the guns were taken from the people and gun laws were created and inforced, before the guns were rightfully returned. No, i dont want the Government State or Federal to be the only ones with Guns I respect the rights for thoses who find it very important to have a gun. But so must they respect my feelings and my bretherns feeling. Before we turn into another Middle East, Where there is violence and killing all around. If we dont show some strenght on this issue. Do not turn back the laws that were put in place to protect all peoples liberities and freedoms. Least there be a killing spree in our own back yards. Please stand w/ me on this and ban this permit to allow concealed weapons in our parks.

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By felicity, May 22, 2009 at 1:56 pm Link to this comment

If you believe that international law does not apply to us and torture not only always results in viable information, it is acceptable when a country’s national interest is at stake then you must accept that all torturers world over may and will use the same justification.

You must also condemn the American government which, following WWII tried, convicted and sentenced to death Japanese soldiers who had water-boarded prisoners in their custody.

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By JFoster2k, May 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm Link to this comment

Are these terrorists superhuman?

I posit they are mere humans (an apparently controversial and contentious view as evidenced by the unreasoned and pervasive fear of housing them in a supermax prison within our borders). Are they going to magically melt through the walls? Are they going to persuade all of the other inmates, and indeed the guards, to join their jihad?

This absurd phobia of “terrorists” as something more dangerous than the likes of Charles Manson or any of the hundreds of other psychopaths, sociopaths and assorted feinds currently incarcerated in the US is bewildering.

For Cheney to manipulate “facts” and stoke this irrational fear is at once heinous and completely understandable. He is desperately trying to defend his indefensible actions and avoid a legacy on par with that of the Marquis De Sade.

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By johannes, May 22, 2009 at 12:43 pm Link to this comment

I think Dick Cheney, is for everything an American Repulican, and he has all the rights to be that.

And people who make a lot of problems over this dam
criminals, who not to speak about 9/11, have done enough crimes against humanety, must think again, other wise the whole woman world of Asia minor an Arabia, are going to be sacrificed.

We say soft Docters make stinking wounds, if we not
cure this sick thinking, but leth me stop there, I don’t see the possebilety to win this religious


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By cat, May 22, 2009 at 11:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)


We were already headed in that direction and we voted to turn from it. We voted to turn unto a NEW direction. We the people who overcame the direction that Dick, and John !!McCain!! wanted us to travel (WE SAY NO) NO to ur Wars, NO to your solutions 4 the ecomony, and NO to the gates of H*E*LL****where Bin Laden waits also for u. And your man, was John McCain who wanted to lead the people of America down the path to such a future as H*E*LL**** that. and Dick, what did we say YES to? President Barack H.Obama, That’s why he is who he is today, We trust his leadership to bring us back into the light of day, and away from our darkest hours. Your leadership leaves so many people all across the world and in America (The United States of America) afraid to live Peacefully , free and happy for fear that there will be trespass against him. And as you laugh and click elbows with Hateful Hannity know this hurts u more than it helps u. And as for Gitmo, Look unto Iraq, Afganistan, pakistan,Iran, Egyt,Israel
Look unto to the people of the communities for those who defend the people of the MIDDLE EAST rights to live Free and in peace, happy have Hope for better generations , Employ them.

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tropicgirl's avatar

By tropicgirl, May 22, 2009 at 11:45 am Link to this comment

I was already to post when I saw that Robert had posted exactly what I was going to post about the prison photos.

Obama should learn the rule of law and the Constitution before trying to tackle something as difficult for him as morality seems to be.

Thanks Robert.

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Robert's avatar

By Robert, May 22, 2009 at 9:34 am Link to this comment

U.S. Officials Admitted that Boys Were Sodomized In Iraq Prison

By Washington’s Blog

“May 21, 2009 “Washington’s Blog”— Many people have heard Pulitzer prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh’s claim that boys were sodomized at Abu Ghraib and that the Pentagon has video of the rapes.

Many people think that they’ll believe it when and if they ever see the video. But we don’t need to wait for the military to release the videos. There is already proof that Hersh is right.

For example, the Guardian wrote in 2004:

  The October 12 memorandum, reported in the Washington Post…came to light as more details emerged of the extent of detainee abuse. Formal statements by inmates published yesterday describe horrific treatment at the hands of guards, including the rape of a teenage Iraqi boy by an army translator…

  According to the leaked memorandum ... it also called for military intelligence officials to work more closely with the military police guards at the prison to “manipulate an internee’s emotions and weaknesses”...

  In the Washington Post report, one detainee, Kasim Hilas, describes the rape of an Iraqi boy by a man in uniform, whose name has been blacked out of the statement, but who appears to be a translator working for the army.

  “I saw [name blacked out] fucking a kid, his age would be about 15-18 years. The kid was hurting very bad and they covered all the doors with sheets. Then when I heard the screaming I climbed the door because on top it wasn’t covered and I saw [blacked out], who was wearing the military uniform putting his dick in the little kid’s ass,” Mr Hilas told military investigators. “I couldn’t see the face of the kid because his face wasn’t in front of the door. And the female soldier was taking pictures.”
  It is not clear from the testimony whether the rapist described by Mr Hilas was working for a private contractor or was a US soldier…

  Another inmate, Thaar Dawod, describes more abuse of teenage Iraqis. “They came with two boys naked and they were cuffed together face to face and Grainer [Corporal Charles Graner, one of the military policemen facing court martial] was beating them and a group of guards were watching and taking pictures from top and bottom and there was three female soldiers laughing at the prisoners,” he said.

More convincingly, the Telegraph wrote in 2004:

  America was braced last night for new allegations of torture in Iraq after military officials said that photographs apparently showing US soldiers beating an Iraqi prisoner nearly to death and having sex with a female PoW were about to be released.

  The officials told the US television network NBC that other images showed soldiers “acting inappropriately with a dead body”. A videotape, apparently made by US personnel, is said to show Iraqi guards raping young boys.

There you have it: the Telegraph implied in 2004 that U.S. officials admitted that there was a video of guards raping boys. Even if the Telegraph’s implication is wrong, there is strong evidence that such rapes did in fact occur as Hersh said.

And whether or not any of the rapists were U.S. soldiers or contractors, at the very least, American soldiers aided and abetted the rape by standing around and taking videos and photographs.

Whether or not Obama releases the photographic evidence, he must prosecute all of those who committed such atrocities, stood around and watched, ordered them to be committed, or created an environment in which they could occur.”

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By Rodger Lemonde, May 22, 2009 at 6:19 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

One might suggest that we re purpose Gitmo to house our war criminals.
Show of hands, how many would like to interrogate Cheney?
Second show of hands, how many would use enhanced interrogation? 
Meditation for the day, if Cheney were locked in a room of mirrors would that be punishment or heaven for him?

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By jackpine savage, May 22, 2009 at 5:44 am Link to this comment

Yes, Louise, the real issue is torture and what’s Mr. Obama doing about it?  His words in the speech were pretty slippery when it came to torture weren’t they?

Another issue is “preventative detention”, something that Mr. Obama appears to be wholeheartedly in favor of…makes you proud to be an American, no?

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PatrickHenry's avatar

By PatrickHenry, May 21, 2009 at 6:44 pm Link to this comment

I agree with Jim Yell and have always advocated returning gitmo back to the Cubans, close Okinawa and all the other bases which prove irritants to the host country and the local inhabitants.

Be sure to demo the prison or it will be turn in to the new unoffical Bush library.

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By Chapeau, May 21, 2009 at 2:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cheney is a War Criminal and should be tried for Crimes Against Humanity.

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By Jim Yell, May 21, 2009 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Once Gitmo is closed let us do something really interesting and gove the land back to Cuba, but please lets tear down the evil empire prison before we leave, no sense in giving a thug a loaded weapon.

Remember we don’t coal ships anymore and that means Gitmo isn’t vital to us as much as it is an irritant to the Cuban People and gives Castro a lot of negative facts to use against us.

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By ib42, May 21, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is so obvious that cheney is covering his rotten ass with these diatribes against the sitting President, with fear mongering. If he was so alert then, why did we get attacked in the first place? Obama is trying hard to repair the havoc caused by the evil and dumb bush and his criminal gang. And Obama is doing it with dignity and statesmanship, qualities the previous regime scoffed at because of their ignorance, stupididy and bullying ways.

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By tropicgirl, May 21, 2009 at 11:49 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I doubt that we would be having this debate, especially in this “match up” format four months ago. But this is what triangulation on the issues by Obama have gotten us. This is what happens when you surround yourself with Bush officials. Do you really think that Blair, Petreus, Odierno, the Susan Rices and the rest of them disagree with Cheney?

And consider the senators and others who are controlled by AIPAC. That would have been enough to battle without keeping the actual people that created these and furthered these policies. I see very few legislators defending Obama now. And the left is silent and has to be, because of his stand (or lack of) on human rights

So now we are left with the president publicly defending the positions that got him elected, on television, with a war criminal. Nice going Obama. Just like Pelosi, all we can do is watch the political accident in slow motion.

Some things are now very clear… Its clear that we need extensive hearings and warrants. We need disclosure of photos, which will tell us whether the torture was casual and indiscriminate. We need disclosure of memos and all other relevant material.

And, for whoever may want to ponder this…  I want to mention that a great deal of Cheney and the torturers’ rhetoric is based upon 911. 911 is the rock it is built upon. But we have been prohibited from examining those events more closely, over and over again. By unilaterally accepting the administration’s account of what happened, even in the light of serious inconsistencies, we all helped form the current paranoid viewpoint that permeates the fear society we live in. I believe we are paying a price for our lack of will to investigate those events further.  The left-ist gatekeepers assisted with this as well . So now we are dealing with what may be a “fantasy world of fear”, that we cannot break out of, or even ask questions, or be allowed to see evidence about.

I also wonder about the sheer laziness with which Obama asked for the funding to close Gitmo. Its almost as if it was incompetence on purpose it was so completely negligent and naive. Thanks a lot, thats all we needed. If you don’t really think enough about these new policies to do the proper homework, that’s one thing. But this incompetent attitude seems bent on sabotaging all the work that is being done, and will continue to be done, by the left, and human rights groups, to end this immoral situation and all of its other programs like rendition, drones, and so on… What now, Obama? More triangulating?

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By johanB, May 21, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is disgusting to see the media milk these two press conferences as if they were an Olympic duel. CNBC went so far that during Obama’s speech they were comparing quotes of Cheney with quotes of Obama, so that they and the viewer could keep score. The mainstream media is as sick as Cheney is ‘mental. The media is not really interested in what in discussing what is important for this country, they, the producers, directors and the talking heads themselves are only interested in ‘fights’ and self promotion. These networks have absolutely no intention to improve this country. They will do anything to draw attention to themselves and are willing to throw fuel on even the tiniest spark to create and increase a fire.Their only goal more self promotion. It is the main stream media with the help of political arrogance and ignorance who are dumbing down America.
The economic, financial, health, educational etc. disasters we face right now, is for a great part due to them, as nobody did their home work, researched and asked the right questions. The main stream media has an important job to inform, by they lost the reason why they choose that profession, instead they behaved like WallStreet and went for the big bucks, greed and help to bring this country under.

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By Louise, May 21, 2009 at 10:45 am Link to this comment

Obama Defends Gitmo’s Closure, Cheney Rebukes It - and the IDIOTS who populate mainstreammedia are calling it a contest!

Even now, Blondie, Babble and Me-too are asking their viewers, who won the contest?


Because as long as we allow the dimbulbs who control the news to continue sending the WRONG message to the world, we are ALL losers!

The real issue - TORTURE - simply isn’t near as important as they are!

Sickening. Absolutely sickening!

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