"The fight against terrorists and violent extremists has been returned to its right and proper place: no longer defining -- indeed, distorting -- our entire national security and foreign policy, but rather serving as a vital part of those larger policies," John Brennan, the senior counter-terrorism adviser to the president, said Thursday in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Brennan did not mention George W. Bush or Dick Cheney. But his speech in many ways amounted to an attack on the previous administration's policies and on Cheney's recent criticism of Obama. Brennan said waterboarding and similar interrogation techniques did more harm than good.
"They are a recruitment bonanza for terrorists, increase the determination of our enemies and decrease the willingness of other nations to cooperate with us," he said. "In short, they undermine our national security."
Obama is pursuing the short-term goal of ending the threat from al-Qaida and a long-term fight against extremist violence as part of a larger and more nuanced foreign policy, Brennan said.