On page five of his speech, Cheney says in effect that one has to agree with the Bush administration’s strategy or admit that you do not take 9-11 seriously. This is a false dichotomy. Accepting the serious ongoing character of the threat represented by 9-11, there were alternative and, I think, better ways to respond than the Bush administration chose. Cheney addresses the harsh interrogations as “recruitment tool” argument but in a way that confirms that he does not understand the character of the threat we face. For example, after raising this issue he immediately calls into question the patriotism of those who make the argument and then discusses the terrorists, ignoring completely what the argument is really about.
Obama appears to understand what the recruitment tool argument is about but believes that security and our values can never conflict “so long as we approach difficult questions with honesty and care and a dose of common sense.” This and some other passages come close to saying that adherence to principle is sufficient to secure. The quoted statement comes toward the end of the speech and the other statements toward its beginning. In the middle, there is an effort to explain how to apply principle to the problem of the detainees at Guantanamo without harming our security. The middle is better than the end or the beginning.
Taken together, the speeches suggest our problem. Those who better grasp the connection of principle and security do not understand the threat we confront, while those who understand the threat, do not understand the connection between principle and security or are beholden to a constituency that does not.