U.S. President Barack Obama departs after discussing his administration's approach to balancing America's national security and governmental transparency in a speech at the National Archives in Washington on May 21, 2009. Obama also spoke about his administration's plans to deal with the terrorist detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. (UPI Photo/Roger L. Wollenberg) | License Photo
WASHINGTON, May 21 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barack Obama said Thursday America needs to return to foundational values to fight terrorism after the Bush administration's "ad hoc" approach.
Shortly afterward, former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush administration's terrorism policies, accusing critics of engaging in "feigned outrage based on a false narrative."
Obama said the United States can effectively fight al-Qaida and its affiliates, "but we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process, in checks and balances and accountability."
"We must never -- ever -- turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake," he said.
Speaking in Washington's National Archives building, where the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence are kept, Obama said the United States must continue to see those documents as the "foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity around the world."
The Bush administration "established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable -- a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass," Obama said.
And he said transferring some detainees from the military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to highly secure prisons in the United States would not endanger U.S. security.
Cheney derided Obama's Guantanamo-closing declaration Thursday as coming "with little deliberation and no plan," and he defended Bush administration interrogation methods.
"To the very end of our administration ... we focused on getting (al-Qaida) secrets instead of sharing ours with them -- and on our watch, they never hit this country again," Cheney told the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank, minutes after Obama ended his speech.
Cheney said the Obama administration gave "less than half the truth" when it released information about the Bush administration's harsh interrogation tactics of suspected terrorists -- tactics Cheney said "leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on."
To call "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as waterboarding "a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have saved American lives and to cast terrorists and murderers as innocent victims," Cheney said.
And to rule out the techniques in the future "is recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the American people less safe," he said.