President Barack Obama fought Thursday to retake command of the emotional debate over closing Guantanamo, denouncing "fear-mongering" by political opponents and insisting that maximum-security prisons in the U.S. can safely house dangerous terror suspects transferred from Cuba.
In a unique bit of Washington theater, former Vice President Dick Cheney delivered his own address just one minute later, defending the Bush administration's creation of the prison camp as vigorously as Obama denounced it.
Obama, appearing at the National Archives with its immensely symbolic backdrop of the nation's founding documents, said shutting down Guantanamo would "enlist our values" to make America safer. Speaking a day after an overwhelming congressional rebuke to his pledge to close the prison, he forcefully declared the camp a hindrance — not a help — to preventing future terrorist attacks. He contends that the prison, which has held hundreds of detainees for years without charges or trials, motivates U.S. enemies overseas.