Suzanne Fields

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

Obama and Cheney argued in dueling speeches over how best to keep the country safe from terrorists and about Obama's continuing campaign against his predecessor. But 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 to the survival of the country. What should the people know about the way the country is kept safe, and when should the people know it?

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

An Obama aide tells The Washington Post that the president "gets frustrated when arguments get dumbed down," because he wants to lay out a comprehensive vision about what he wants to do with the Guantanamo prisoners. But 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 neighborhood.

The Pentagon did offer this week a summary of a study that reveals that 74 onetime residents who have been released from the military prison at Guantanamo -- one in seven 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? But deal with them we must, and the public is entitled to know exactly what Cheney meant when he said the comprehensive strategy "has worked" and has been crucial to keeping 300 million Americans safe since 9-11.

Suzanne Fields

Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton's 'Paradise Lost.'

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