An Appeal to Survival Ethics; the Obama-Cheney Dispute over Identity and Destiny

Article excerpt


Washington is a company town, and what the company makes best are politics and policy. Sometimes the politics is unprecedented, as certain historians called the duel between President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Cheney argued in dueling speeches over how best to keep the country safe from terrorists and about Mr. Obama's continuing campaign against his predecessor. However, at root was a philosophical discussion about who we are as a nation and how the nation can be true to both the rule of law and the survival of the country. What should the people know about the way the country is kept safe, and when should they know it?

Predictably, the dueling arguments were melted down quickly by McMedia into glib nuggets of distorted facts, misinformation, moral preening and pious pretense that merely reinforced everyone's established opinions and positions. The former vice president was derided as the Darth Vader of the George W. Bush administration, but the president still won't release the evidence Mr. Cheney says validates his defense of the interrogation techniques at Guantanamo Bay as legal, essential, justified, successful.

An Obama aide tells The Washington Post that the president gets frustrated when arguments get distorted or dumbed down because he wants to lay out a comprehensive vision about what he wants to do with the Guantanamo prisoners. Yet the president contributes to the dumbing down and offers no assurance that he understands the manipulative nature of the Guantanamo scoundrels or the reasons why nobody, Democrat or Republican, wants them released in his or her neighborhood.

The Pentagon did offer this week a summary of a study revealing that 74 one-time detainees who have been released from the military prison at Guantanamo - 1 in 7 of those freed - returned to violent careers in terrorism. The list includes men accused or convicted of terrorist offenses in Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Russia. These are men who never formed the habits of decency fundamental to civilized society, violent combatants still at war against the United States. Who can blame the friendly countries that refuse to relieve us of the grim task of dealing with them? Yet deal with them we must, and the public is entitled to know exactly what Mr. …