Dick Cheney Center for Security Policy Speech: Dick Cheney Keeper of the Flame Award

Here is the text of former Vice President Dick Cheney speaking to the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C. Commentary coming. Just added the video.

Dick Cheney

Pull-out quotes for a fast read. Full text and video below:
(1) Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security
quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place
by others who came before….
And whatever course you
follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave
no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

(2) So among my other concerns about the drift of
events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of
missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a
breach of good faith.

(3) It is certainly not a
model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic
are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone
calls.
Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded
Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion [the U.S. dumping the promise of a missile shield].

(4) Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia,
under the orders of a man [Putin] who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union
as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.
 

(5) …President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements
with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes
and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these
peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain
the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful
friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making
two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our
friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America
will abandon them as well.

(6) Big events turn on
the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do,
and always defending our fundamental security interests [Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran].
 

(7) …he [Obama] has
outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic’s [Iran] authoritarian leaders,
and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to
extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to
extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories.
Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles.
And these are just the activities we know about.
 

(8) Iraq has the potential
to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example
of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East.
 

(9) the President has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran’s
protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran’s
authoritarian regime.

(10) Now suddenly – and despite
our success in Iraq – we’re hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over
Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they
offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they
should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.
 

(11) Having
announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now
seems afraid to make a decision
, and unable to provide his commander on
the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.
 

(12) …signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and
embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face
an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.
 

(13) It’s
time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House
must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger. 
 

Here’s the quote about the Obama administration saying the Bush admin had no strategy for Afghanistan. 

(14) Recently,
President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the
Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled
a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff
claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions
about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had
to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In
the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being
posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy,
assembling a team that traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, reviewing
options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team.
They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed,
giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt.
The
new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency
and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance
to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I
think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.
 

(15) It’s time for President Obama to
do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a
war of necessity.
 

(16) When we faced that problem [captured terrorists] in the days and years after 9/11, we
made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is
not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United
States.

(17) So you would think that our
successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, “How
did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack
over that period of time?”

Instead,
they’ve chosen a different path entirely – giving in to the angry left,
slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue
more serious than any other they’ll face in these four years.  

(18) There
are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be
answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We
cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and
turning the guns on our own guys.

(19)We cannot
hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its
hardest work – the men and women of our military and intelligence
services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.

Text From Fox News:

Thank you all very much. It’s a pleasure to be
here, and especially to receive the Keeper of the Flame Award in the
company of so many good friends.

I’m told
that among those you’ve recognized before me was my friend Don
Rumsfeld. I don’t mind that a bit. It fits something of a pattern. In a
career that includes being chief of staff, congressman, and secretary
of defense, I haven’t had much that Don didn’t get first. But truth be
told, any award once conferred on Donald Rumsfeld carries extra luster,
and I am very proud to see my name added to such a distinguished list.

To
Frank Gaffney and all the supporters of Center for Security Policy, I
thank you for this honor. And I thank you for the great energy and high
intelligence you bring to as vital a cause as there is – the advance of
freedom and the uncompromising defense of the United States.

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security
quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place
by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned
and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with
partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and
even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little
while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you
follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave
no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of
events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of
missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a
breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a
model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic
are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone
calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those
countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar
system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled
to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be
dissolved, just like that – with apparently little, if any,
consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded
Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You
hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire
– and thought they had – a close and trusting relationship with the
United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia,
under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union
as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who
has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin
is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and
accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What
did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of
Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous “Reset” button?
Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to
sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In
the short of it, President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements
with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes
and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these
peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain
the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful
friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making
two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our
friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America
will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on
the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do,
and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that
category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the
need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

Candidate
Obama declared last year that he would be willing to sit down with
Iran’s leader without preconditions. As President, he has committed America to an Iran strategy that seems to treat engagement as
an objective rather than a tactic. Time and time again, he has
outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic’s authoritarian leaders,
and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to
extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and
Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to
extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories.
Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles.
And these are just the activities we know about.

I have long been skeptical of engagement with the current regime inTehran, but even Iran experts who previously advocated for engagement
have changed their tune since the rigged elections this past June and
the brutal suppression of Iran’s democratic protestors. The
administration clearly missed an opportunity to stand with Iran’s democrats, whose popular protests represent the greatest challenge to
the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. Instead, the President has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran’s
protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran’s
authoritarian regime. Unless the Islamic Republic fears real
consequences from the United States and the international community, it
is hard to see how diplomacy will work.

Next
door in Iraq, it is vitally important that President Obama, in his rush
to withdraw troops, not undermine the progress we’ve made in recent
years. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with President Obama, who began his press availability with an extended comment about Afghanistan. When he finally got around to talking about Iraq, he told the media that he reiterated to Maliki his intention to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. Former President
Bush’s bold decision to change strategy in Iraq and surge U.S. forces
there set the stage for success in that country. Iraq has the potential
to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example
of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East. The
Obama Administration has an obligation to protect this young democracy
and build on the strategic success we have achieved in Iraq.

We
should all be concerned as well with the direction of policy on
Afghanistan. For quite a while, the cause of our military in that
country went pretty much unquestioned, even on the left. The effort was
routinely praised by way of contrast to Iraq, which many wrote off as a
failure until the surge proved them wrong. Now suddenly – and despite
our success in Iraq – we’re hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over
Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they
offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they
should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.

Having
announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now
seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on
the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.

President
Obama has said he understands the stakes for America. When he announced
his new strategy he couched the need to succeed in the starkest
possible terms, saying, quote, “If the Afghan government falls to the
Taliban – or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will
again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people
as they possibly can.” End quote.

Five months
later, in August of this year, speaking at the VFW, the President made
a promise to America’s armed forces. “I will give you a clear mission,”
he said, “defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get
the job done. That’s my commitment to you.”

It’s
time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House
must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger. 

Make
no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and
embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face
an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Recently,
President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the
Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled
a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff
claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions
about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had
to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In
the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being
posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy,
assembling a team that traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan, reviewing
options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team.
They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed,
giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The
new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency
and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance
to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I
think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now
they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to
implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to
do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a
war of necessity.

It’s worth recalling that we
were engaged in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, supporting the Mujahadeen
against the Soviets. That was a successful policy, but then we pretty
much put Afghanistan out of our minds. While no one was watching, what
followed was a civil war, the takeover by the Taliban, and the rise of
bin Laden and al-Qaeda. All of that set in motion the events of 9/11.
When we deployed forces eight years ago this month, it was to make sure
Afghanistan would never again be a training ground for the killing of
Americans. Saving untold thousands of lives is still the business at
hand in this fight. And the success of our mission in Afghanistan is
not only essential, it is entirely achievable with enough troops and
enough political courage.

Then there’s the
matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war.
Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent
lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we
made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is
not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United
States.

At every turn, we understood as well
that the safety of the country required collecting information known
only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots – and
that’s an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of
lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let
the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they
answered them at all.

The intelligence
professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited
time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest
actors we picked up to reveal things they really didn’t want to share.
In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was
not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar,
complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a
professorial side, and our guys didn’t mind at all if classes ran long.
At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on
the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of
enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well,
tells us why he started to talk.

The debate
over intelligence gathering in the seven years after 9/11 involves much
more than historical accuracy. What we’re really debating are the means
and resolve to protect this country over the next few years, and long
after that. Terrorists and their state sponsors must be held
accountable, and America must remain on the offensive against them. We
got it right after 9/11. And our government needs to keep getting it
right, year after year, president after president, until the danger is
finally overcome.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some
quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later
years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the
sense of general alarm after 9/11 was a fading memory. Part of our
responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that
had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to
something much bigger and far worse.

Eight 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 you would think that our
successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, “How
did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack
over that period of time?”

Instead,
they’ve chosen a different path entirely – giving in to the angry left,
slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue
more serious than any other they’ll face in these four years. No one
knows just where that path will lead, but I can promise you this: There
will always be plenty of us willing to stand up for the policies and
the people that have kept this country safe.

On
the political left, it will still be asserted that tough interrogations
did no good, because this is an article of faith for them, and actual
evidence is unwelcome and disregarded. President Obama himself has
ruled these methods out, and when he last addressed the subject he
filled the air with vague and useless platitudes. His preferred device
is to suggest that we could have gotten the same information by other
means. We’re invited to think so. But this ignores the hard,
inconvenient truth that we did try other means and techniques to elicit
information from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other al-Qaeda operatives,
only turning to enhanced techniques when we failed to produce the
actionable intelligence we knew they were withholding. In fact, our
intelligence professionals, in urgent circumstances with the highest of
stakes, obtained specific information, prevented specific attacks, and
saved American lives.

In short, to call
enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard
the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are
a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well,
in our country’s name and in our country’s cause. What’s more, to
completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of
half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against
terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half
exposed.

For all that we’ve lost in this
conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings – and
least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence
personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and
a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Last January 20th, our successors in office were given the highest
honors that the voters of this country can give any two citizens. Along
with that, George W. Bush and I handed the new president and vice
president both a record of success in the war on terror, and the
policies to continue that record and ultimately prevail. We had been
the decision makers, but those seven years, four months, and nine days
without another 9/11 or worse, were a combined achievement: a credit to
all who serve in the defense of America, including some of the finest
people I’ve ever met.

What
the present administration does with those policies is their call to
make, and will become a measure of their own record. But I will tell
you straight that I am not encouraged when intelligence officers who
acted in the service of this country find themselves hounded with a
zeal that should be reserved for America’s enemies. And it certainly is
not a good sign when the Justice Department is set on a political
mission to discredit, disbar, or otherwise persecute the very people
who helped protect our nation in the years after 9/11.

There
are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be
answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We
cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and
turning the guns on our own guys.

We cannot
hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its
hardest work – the men and women of our military and intelligence
services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.

Thank you very much.

Thanks again to Fox News for providing the text of this sobering message.

Dick Cheney – Center for Security Policy Speech