President Obama and Dick Cheney's War of Words Stirs National Debate

Obama Cheney

The dueling speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Dick Cheney rippled across the airwaves today as surrogates took up the heated debate about how to keep America safe.

Today, Cheney's daughter and former State Department official Liz Cheney defended her father's views on enhanced interrogation techniques and assailed the Obama administration for not releasing the classified intelligence memos her father requested.

VIDEO: The former vice presidents daughter backs enhanced interrogation techniques.
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The memos, the Cheneys say, show that techniques like waterboarding yielded valuable information from detainees.

Last month, the Department of Justice released memos showing the legal justification for waterboarding -- an interrogation tactic that simulates drowning -- written by Bush-era officials.

Releasing those memos gave "terrorists a new insert for their training manual," said Liz Cheney on "Good Morning America," echoing remarks her father made yesterday at the American Enterprise Institute. "It takes a tool out of the toolbox for every future president."

On the contrary, Lawrence O'Donnell, former Senate Democratic chief of staff, argued that policies of the Bush-Cheney administration actually made the country less safe.

"It is torture. This government has prosecuted people in the past for doing exactly this," O'Donnell said on "GMA." "He [Dick Cheney] can never acknowledge what waterboarding actually was as practiced by the Bush administration."

"If [it was] so effective, why did they use it only on three?" questioned O'Donnell. "Why didn't they use it on the 500 people the Bush-Cheney administration released from Guantanamo -- 75 of whom we know ... have gone back into the terrorism business."

The waterboard was used on three prime terror suspects held in Guantanamo Bay.

War of Words on National Security

Obama and Cheney's major speeches Thursday given back to back -- a unique event for Washington, D.C. -- has stirred a national debate on how to keep Americans safe.

The president argued Thursday that his predecessor's policies on terrorism made the country less secure. He affirmed that he considered waterboarding torture and said techniques such as those not only made the United States less safe, they were also against American values.

"I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more," the president said in his speech at the National Archives. "As commander in chief, I see the intelligence. I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation."

In another part of town, Cheney argued the opposite.

"I was and remain a strong proponent of our enhanced interrogation program," the former VP said. "The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do."

Obama also assailed the Bush administration for employing an ideology of fear rather than sound principles.

"We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates," the president said. "We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability."

"Too often, our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions," he said.

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