"There is no debate as to whether what is reflected in those photos is wrong, and nothing has been concealed to absolve perpetrators of crimes. However, it was my judgment -- informed by my national security team -- that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion, and allow our enemies to paint U.S. troops with a broad, damning and inaccurate brush, endangering them in theaters of war," he said.
Obama rejected calls for an independent "truth commission" that would look into a wide range of Bush administration national security decisions on the grounds that the nation's "existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability."
"The Congress can review abuses of our values, and there are ongoing inquiries by the Congress into matters like enhanced interrogation techniques. The Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws," he said.
Obama repeatedly pointed the finger at the Bush administration for what he called "a series of hasty decisions" that, while "motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people," led to controversial policies on interrogation and detention of terrorists.
"Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford," he said.
He stressed that the problem of how to move forward with Guantanamo Bay detainees is not a result of his decision to close the facility, but rather the detention center's existence. Even the Supreme Court was not spared a rebuke from the president on this issue.
"The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents," he said.
Before Obama's words on counterterrorism policies were even able to sink in, Cheney launched into his competing speech, saying the president's policies are making the nation less safe.
Cheney recently has been Obama's harshest critic, and today he continued questioning the president's decisions and defending the policies of his predecessor.
"When President Obama makes wise decisions, he deserves our support. When he mischaracterizes the decisions we made, he deserves an answer." Cheney said. Among Obama's "wise decisions," according to Cheney: his approach to Afghanistan and his decision not to release the detainee abuse photos.
Cheney outlined the Bush administration's "broad strategic approach" behind the key anti-terror policies -- Guantanamo Bay, interrogation, wiretapping -- and argued it is dangerous to dismantle them.
It's not about looking backward, the former vice president said, it's about the best way to protect the country going forward.
"[T]hough I'm not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one wishes the current administration more success in defending the country than we do," he said. "We understand the complexities of national security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a president and his advisers."
Over the last several weeks, Cheney has been on a fierce public campaign to discredit Obama's national security decisions.
"He is making some choices that, in my mind, will in fact raise the risk to the American people of another attack," Cheney said in March.