ON-Lion Letter
"To make certain our nation never again faced ... a day of horror" like September 11, 2001, "we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target," former Vice President Dick Cheney said during a May speech forcefully defending the Bush administration's national-security decisions at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) in Washington, D.C.

"[W]e developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target," continued Cheney, who now sits on AEI's board of trustees.  "But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed to using every asset to take down their networks.  We decided, as well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of the United States.  We turned special attention to regimes that had the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer such weapons to terrorists.

"We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these policies in place," he continued in his remarks to AEI, projects of which are substantially supported by The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee.  "It has resulted in serious blows against enemy operations ....  Well over seven years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive -- and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed.

"So we're left to draw one of two conclusions -- and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security.  You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever.  Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event -- coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort.  Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.

"I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program," Cheney later added.  "The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed.  They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do.  The intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."


(Photo from Peter Holden Photography for AEI)
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