Thursday, October 22, 2009

Cheney: “We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys”


Center for Security Policy | Oct 22, 2009

On Wednesday night, October 21, former Vice President Dick Cheney received the Center's 20th Keeper of the Flame Award.


Here are the Vice President's prepared remarks:


Thank you all very much. It’s a pleasure to be here, and especially to receive the Keeper of the Flame Award in the company of so many good friends.

I’m told that among those you’ve recognized before me was my friend Don Rumsfeld. I don’t mind that a bit. It fits something of a pattern. In a career that includes being chief of staff, congressman, and secretary of defense, I haven’t had much that Don didn’t get first. But truth be told, any award once conferred on Donald Rumsfeld carries extra luster, and I am very proud to see my name added to such a distinguished list.

To Frank Gaffney and all the supporters of Center for Security Policy, I thank you for this honor. And I thank you for the great energy and high intelligence you bring to as vital a cause as there is – the advance of freedom and the uncompromising defense of the United States.

Most anyone who is given responsibility in matters of national security quickly comes to appreciate the commitments and structures put in place by others who came before. You deploy a military force that was planned and funded by your predecessors. You inherit relationships with partners and obligations to allies that were first undertaken years and even generations earlier. With the authority you hold for a little while, you have great freedom of action. And whatever course you follow, the essential thing is always to keep commitments, and to leave no doubts about the credibility of your country’s word.

So among my other concerns about the drift of events under the present administration, I consider the abandonment of missile defense in Eastern Europe to be a strategic blunder and a breach of good faith.

It is certainly not a model of diplomacy when the leaders of Poland and the Czech Republic are informed of such a decision at the last minute in midnight phone calls. It took a long time and lot of political courage in those countries to arrange for our interceptor system in Poland and the radar system in the Czech Republic. Our Polish and Czech friends are entitled to wonder how strategic plans and promises years in the making could be dissolved, just like that – with apparently little, if any, consultation. Seventy years to the day after the Soviets invaded Poland, it was an odd way to mark the occasion.

You hardly have to go back to 1939 to understand why these countries desire – and thought they had – a close and trusting relationship with the United States. Only last year, the Russian Army moved into Georgia, under the orders of a man who regards the collapse of the Soviet Union as the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century. Anybody who has spent much time in that part of the world knows what Vladimir Putin is up to. And those who try placating him, by conceding ground and accommodating his wishes, will get nothing in return but more trouble.

What did the Obama Administration get from Russia for its abandonment of Poland and the Czech Republic, and for its famous “Reset” button? Another deeply flawed election and continued Russian opposition to sanctioning Iran for its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

In the short of it, President Obama’s cancellation of America’s agreements with the Polish and Czech governments was a serious blow to the hopes and aspirations of millions of Europeans. For twenty years, these peoples have done nothing but strive to move closer to us, and to gain the opportunities and security that America offered. These are faithful friends and NATO allies, and they deserve better. The impact of making two NATO allies walk the plank won’t be felt only in Europe. Our friends throughout the world are watching and wondering whether America will abandon them as well.

Big events turn on the credibility of the United States – doing what we said we would do, and always defending our fundamental security interests. In that category belong the ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the need to counter the nuclear ambitions of the current regime in Iran.

Candidate Obama declared last year that he would be willing to sit down with Iran's leader without preconditions. As President, he has committed America to an Iran strategy that seems to treat engagement as an objective rather than a tactic. Time and time again, he has outstretched his hand to the Islamic Republic's authoritarian leaders, and all the while Iran has continued to provide lethal support to extremists and terrorists who are killing American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Islamic Republic continues to provide support to extremists in Syria, Lebanon, and the Palestinian territories. Meanwhile, the regime continues to spin centrifuges and test missiles. And these are just the activities we know about.

I have long been skeptical of engagement with the current regime in Tehran, but even Iran experts who previously advocated for engagement have changed their tune since the rigged elections this past June and the brutal suppression of Iran's democratic protestors. The administration clearly missed an opportunity to stand with Iran's emocrats, whose popular protests represent the greatest challenge to the Islamic Republic since its founding in 1979. Instead, the resident has been largely silent about the violent crackdown on Iran's protestors, and has moved blindly forward to engage Iran's authoritarian regime. Unless the Islamic Republic fears real consequences from the United States and the international community, it is hard to see how diplomacy will work.

Next door in Iraq, it is vitally important that President Obama, in his rush to withdraw troops, not undermine the progress we’ve made in recent years. Prime Minister Maliki met yesterday with President Obama, who began his press availability with an extended comment about Afghanistan. When he finally got around to talking bout Iraq, he told the media that he reiterated to Maliki his intention to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq. Former President Bush's bold decision to change strategy in Iraq and surge U.S. forces there set the stage for success in that country. Iraq has the potential to be a strong, democratic ally in the war on terrorism, and an example of economic and democratic reform in the heart of the Middle East. The Obama Administration has an obligation to protect this young democracy and build on the strategic success we have achieved in Iraq.

We should all be concerned as well with the direction of policy on Afghanistan. For quite a while, the cause of our military in that country went pretty much unquestioned, even on the left. The effort was routinely praised by way of contrast to Iraq, which many wrote off as a failure until the surge proved them wrong. Now suddenly – and despite our success in Iraq – we’re hearing a drumbeat of defeatism over Afghanistan. These criticisms carry the same air of hopelessness, they offer the same short-sighted arguments for walking away, and they should be summarily rejected for the same reasons of national security.

Having announced his Afghanistan strategy last March, President Obama now seems afraid to make a decision, and unable to provide his commander on the ground with the troops he needs to complete his mission.

President Obama has said he understands the stakes for America. When he announced his new strategy he couched the need to succeed in the starkest possible terms, saying, quote, “If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.” End quote.

Five months later, in August of this year, speaking at the VFW, the President made a promise to America’s armed forces. “I will give you a clear mission,” he said, “defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the job done. That’s my commitment to you.”

It’s time for President Obama to make good on his promise. The White House must stop dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.

Make no mistake, signals of indecision out of Washington hurt our allies and embolden our adversaries. Waffling, while our troops on the ground face an emboldened enemy, endangers them and hurts our cause.

Recently, President Obama’s advisors have decided that it’s easier to blame the Bush Administration than support our troops. This weekend they leveled a charge that cannot go unanswered. The President’s chief of staff claimed that the Bush Administration hadn’t asked any tough questions about Afghanistan, and he complained that the Obama Administration had to start from scratch to put together a strategy.

In the fall of 2008, fully aware of the need to meet new challenges being posed by the Taliban, we dug into every aspect of Afghanistan policy, assembling a team that repeatedly went into the country, reviewing options and recommendations, and briefing President-elect Obama’s team. They asked us not to announce our findings publicly, and we agreed, giving them the benefit of our work and the benefit of the doubt. The new strategy they embraced in March, with a focus on counterinsurgency and an increase in the numbers of troops, bears a striking resemblance to the strategy we passed to them. They made a decision – a good one, I think – and sent a commander into the field to implement it.

Now they seem to be pulling back and blaming others for their failure to implement the strategy they embraced. It’s time for President Obama to do what it takes to win a war he has repeatedly and rightly called a war of necessity.

It’s worth recalling that we were engaged in Afghanistan in the 1980’s, supporting the Mujahadeen against the Soviets. That was a successful policy, but then we pretty much put Afghanistan out of our minds. While no one was watching, what followed was a civil war, the takeover by the Taliban, and the rise of bin Laden and al-Qaeda. All of that set in motion the events of 9/11. When we deployed forces eight years ago this month, it was to make sure Afghanistan would never again be a training ground for the killing of Americans. Saving untold thousands of lives is still the business at hand in this fight. And the success of our mission in Afghanistan is not only essential, it is entirely achievable with enough troops and enough political courage.

Then there’s the matter of how to handle the terrorists we capture in this ongoing war. Some of them know things that, if shared, can save a good many innocent lives. When we faced that problem in the days and years after 9/11, we made some basic decisions. We understood that organized terrorism is not just a law-enforcement issue, but a strategic threat to the United States.

At every turn, we understood as well that the safety of the country required collecting information known only to the worst of the terrorists. We had a lot of blind spots – and that’s an awful thing, especially in wartime. With many thousands of lives potentially in the balance, we didn’t think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

The intelligence professionals who got the answers we needed from terrorists had limited time, limited options, and careful legal guidance. They got the baddest actors we picked up to reveal things they really didn’t want to share. In the case of Khalid Sheik Muhammed, by the time it was over he was not was not only talking, he was practically conducting a seminar, complete with chalkboards and charts. It turned out he had a professorial side, and our guys didn’t mind at all if classes ran long. At some point, the mastermind of 9/11 became an expansive briefer on the operations and plans of al-Qaeda. It happened in the course of enhanced interrogations. All the evidence, and common sense as well, tells us why he started to talk.

The debate over intelligence gathering in the seven years after 9/11 involves much more than historical accuracy. What we’re really debating are the means and resolve to protect this country over the next few years, and long after that. Terrorists and their state sponsors must be held accountable, and America must remain on the offensive against them. We got it right after 9/11. And our government needs to keep getting it right, year after year, president after president, until the danger is finally overcome.

Our administration always faced its share of criticism, and from some quarters it was always intense. That was especially so in the later years of our term, when the dangers were as serious as ever, but the sense of general alarm after 9/11 was a fading memory. Part of our responsibility, as we saw it, was not to forget the terrible harm that had been done to America … and not to let 9/11 become the prelude to something much bigger and far worse.

Eight years into the effort, one thing we know is that the enemy has spent most of this time on the defensive – and every attempt to strike inside the United States has failed. So you would think that our successors would be going to the intelligence community saying, “How did you did you do it? What were the keys to preventing another attack over that period of time?”

Instead, they’ve chosen a different path entirely – giving in to the angry left, slandering people who did a hard job well, and demagoguing an issue more serious than any other they’ll face in these four years. No one knows just where that path will lead, but I can promise you this: There will always be plenty of us willing to stand up for the policies and the people that have kept this country safe.

On the political left, it will still be asserted that tough interrogations did no good, because this is an article of faith for them, and actual evidence is unwelcome and disregarded. President Obama himself has ruled these methods out, and when he last addressed the subject he filled the air with vague and useless platitudes. His preferred device is to suggest that we could have gotten the same information by other means. We’re invited to think so. But this ignores the hard, inconvenient truth that we did try other means and techniques to elicit information from Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and other al-Qaeda operatives, only turning to enhanced techniques when we failed to produce the actionable intelligence we knew they were withholding. In fact, our intelligence professionals, in urgent circumstances with the highest of stakes, obtained specific information, prevented specific attacks, and saved American lives.

In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program’s legal underpinnings and safeguards. Such accusations are a libel against dedicated professionals who acted honorably and well, in our country’s name and in our country’s cause. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced interrogation in the future, in favor of half-measures, is unwise in the extreme. In the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed.

For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost its moral bearings – and least of all can that be said of our armed forces and intelligence personnel. They have done right, they have made our country safer, and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Last January 20th, our successors in office were given the highest honors that the voters of this country can give any two citizens. Along with that, George W. Bush and I handed the new president and vice president both a record of success in the war on terror, and the policies to continue that record and ultimately prevail. We had been the decision makers, but those seven years, four months, and nine days without another 9/11 or worse, were a combined achievement: a credit to all who serve in the defense of America, including some of the finest people I’ve ever met.

What the present administration does with those policies is their call to make, and will become a measure of their own record. But I will tell you straight that I am not encouraged when intelligence officers who acted in the service of this country find themselves hounded with a zeal that should be reserved for America’s enemies. And it certainly is not a good sign when the Justice Department is set on a political mission to discredit, disbar, or otherwise persecute the very people who helped protect our nation in the years after 9/11.

There are policy differences, and then there are affronts that have to be answered every time without equivocation, and this is one of them. We cannot protect this country by putting politics over security, and turning the guns on our own guys.

We cannot hope to win a war by talking down our country and those who do its hardest work – the men and women of our military and intelligence services. They are, after all, the true keepers of the flame.

Thank you very much.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Obituary - Disner

Disner, Bernard - March 8 2006 of Mt. Laurel. Husband of Natalie (nee Brody) Disner. Father of Arlyn Chester and Don Disner. Brother of Frances Biddle Marion Zieman ...

Published in the Courier-Post on 3/9/2006

BERNARD, March 8, 2006 of Mt. Laurel. Husband of Natalie (nee Brody) Disner. Father of Arlyn Chester and Don Disner. Brother of Frances Biddle, Marion Zieman and Marjorie Newman. Grandfather of Amanda Scott and Amiee Chester. Relatives and friends are invited to Graveside Services Friday, 1 P.M. at Crescent Mem. Park (Sec. G), Pennsauken. The family will return to the late residence and respectfully request contributions in his memory be made to the National Parkinson Disease Foundation.

Published on 2006-03-09, Page , Philadelphia Inquirer, The (PA) and Philadelphia Daily News (PA)

Natalie Disner
formerly of Mt. Laurel
Oct. 5, 2012. Wife of the late Bernard Disner. Mother of Arlyn Chester and Don Disner. Grandmother of Amanda Kelley and Aimee Livingston. Great grandmother of Brodie Scott and Beaux Livingston. Sister of the late Zelda Clasko and the late Mitzi Mehr. Graveside services will be Friday at 11:00 am at Crescent Memorial Park (Sec. G) Pennsauken, NJ. Contributions can be made to the Alzheimer's Association,


Published in Courier-Post on Oct. 10, 2012

NATALIE, October 5, 2012, formerly of Mt. Laurel, NJ. Wife of the late Bernard Disner. Mother of Arlyn Chester and Don Disner. Grandmother of Amanda Kelley and Aimee Livingston. Great grandmother of Brodie Scott and Beaux Livingston. Sister of the late Zelda Clasko and the late Mitzi Mehr. Graveside Services will be Friday at 11:00 A.M. at Crescent Memorial Park (Sec. G) Pennsauken, NJ. Contribu-tions can be made to the Alzheimer's Association. PLATT MEMORIAL CHAPELS, INC. CHERRY HILL, NJ.


Published in Philadelphia Inquirer and/or Philadelphia Daily News on Oct. 10, 2012

NATALIE DISNER, formerly of Mt. Laurel, died on Oct. 5. Wife of the late Bernard Disner. Mother of Arlyn Chester and Don Disner. Grandmother of two and great-grandmother of two. Sister of the late Zelda Clasko and the late Mitzi Mehr.


Jewish Community Voice - October 31, 2012

Obama, Dictators and democrats: How many rogue nations can President Obama hold in one hand? By Daniel Henninger


In his Inaugural Address, President Obama spoke directly to the world's rogue nations. "[W]e will extend a hand," he said, "if you are willing to unclench your fist."

Question: How many rogue nations can you hold in one hand? Let's try to count.

Iran remains rogue No. 1. The world is riveted by the expanding Iranian nuclear threat, and one might expect a mess of this magnitude would occupy most of the diplomatic energies of any presidency. But this one has time for more.

The Monday after last Friday's bombshell that Iran has a hidden nuclear site, the State Department announced the start of a "direct dialogue" with Burma's hopeless junta. The administration has dispatched a special envoy to Sudan and its genocidal leader, Omar Hassan al-Bashir. Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad got his own Obama envoy, plus a visit from John Kerry.

At the Summit of the Americas, Mr. Obama himself did meet and greets for "dialogue" with Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega and Bolivia's Evo Morales, and reached out to Cuba's Raul Castro. Mr. Obama then dropped in on Russia's leaders for a "reset."

There is something slightly weird about all this activity. If the Obama team wanted to make a really significant break from past Bush policy, it would say it was not going to just talk with the world's worst strongmen but would give equal, public status to their democratic opposition groups. Instead, the baddest actors in the world get face time with Barack Obama, but their struggling opposition gets invisibility.

Iran's extraordinary and brave popular opposition, which broke out again this week at two universities, seems to have earned these pro-democracy Iranians nothing in the calculations of U.S. policy.

With Iran, one could argue that stopping the mullahs' nuclear program trumps the aspirations of its population. What about poor, harmless Guinea?

In July, Mr. Obama made a historic journey to Africa, giving a widely praised speech in Ghana in support of self-help and self-determination. In August, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton grandly visited seven African nations with a similar message. Three days ago in Guinea, government troops fired on a pro-democracy rally estimated at 50,000 in the capital of Conakry, killing more than 150 people. The State Department got out a written statement of condemnation. Why is it not possible for President Obama or Secretary of State Clinton, having encouraged these aspirations, to speak publicly in their defense, rather than let democratic movements rise, fall and die?

In trying to plumb why the U.S. won't promote or protect its own best idea, one starts with Mr. Obama's remarks at the "reset" visit in Moscow: "America cannot and should not seek to impose any system of government on any other country, nor would we presume to choose which party or individual should run a country."

Setting aside that no one is talking about the U.S. literally "imposing" a government in this day and age, what is one to make of a left-of-center American political leader taking such a diffident stance toward democratic movements? The people who live under the sway of the top dog in all the nations that have earned high-level Obama envoys are the world's poor, and one would expect the social-justice left to support them. That may no longer be true on the American or European left.

Transforming dictatorships into nations with reasonably competitive democracies increases the odds that their people in time will find a competent leader, such as Colombia's Alvaro Uribe, who will introduce productive economic policies. That makes it more likely these peoples will join the global trading system, raising their incomes.

For the American left, now fused to financial support from domestic labor unions, the world's dispossessed represent a threat—less costly labor selling goods into the high-cost world.

Active help for democratic oppositions in Venezuela, Syria, Egypt, Iran or even Guinea hardly serves this interest. Today, social justice stops at the water's edge. Even as Mr. Obama extends his hand to a Chávez, Morales or Castro, he makes no effort to finish free-trade agreements with certifiably democratic Colombia and Panama.

The one thing the Obama tack of talking to dictators and slow-walking free trade assures is that many of these populations may be run indefinitely by economically incompetent psychopaths who pose no threat to the interests of American labor and their Democratic dependents. This anti-democratic protectionism of course has fans on the xenophobic right in the U.S., too.

This is a risky business. What if the new authoritarian, make-believe democratic model gains? Our dictator chat partners are getting brazen about staging and then rigging elections. Iran's mullahs proved there will be no sustained push-back from the U.S. or Western Europe to a fraudulent election. Instead the great powers' energies go into pounding tiny Honduras, which tried to save itself from the Chávez- and Castro-admiring Manuel Zelaya.

What if the world's real democrats, after enough bullets and dungeon time, lose belief in the American democracy's support for them on this central idea? They may come to regard their betters in the U.S. and Europe as inhabiting a world less animated by democratic belief than democratic decadence.

Write to

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beware Of New Regulation Of Derivatives By Rep. Eric Cantor



In the face of public outcry over the nation's financial crisis, a tried-and-true tradition of finger-pointing is under way in Washington.

Instead of taking a measured approach to identifying the root causes of our financial collapse, many in Washington are focusing on an easy villain that many Americans don't appreciate: the derivatives market.

This sentiment drove the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday to pass new rules that could have far-reaching constraints on derivatives and may irreparably harm American businesses and consumers in the future.

Rather than the tool for gross financial manipulation it is portrayed to be, the derivatives market plays a very important role in solidifying the competitiveness of American businesses.

Derivatives enable businesses and investors of all sorts, especially nonfinancial corporations, to hedge risk efficiently. The benefits of successful risk management include greater confidence and predictability in the underlying business, which leads to more jobs and ultimately trickles down to consumers in the form of lower prices.

To be sure, Republicans believe that more transparency in the financial markets is always better. A system that requires companies to report their derivatives trades to a regulator monitoring risk makes more sense as long as that information is protected from competitors who could benefit unfairly if all hedging information were forced to be openly disclosed.

We also agree that the growth of listed and centrally cleared derivatives is a positive step that should be encouraged.

Yet there's a fine line between enforcing smart regulations designed to keep innovative markets functioning and erecting hurdles that restrict American companies' ability to compete on the global stage.

House Republicans fear that line is now being blurred. By granting government regulators the power to impose on an ad hoc basis stiff collateral and margin requirements, legislation passed Wednesday in the House Financial Services Committee could spell disaster for the over-the-counter derivatives market.

While today many hedgers are able to enter into OTC derivative contracts with willing counterparties based on their credit rating, the new regulations will force companies to choose between two difficult options: Use up their precious working capital to satisfy unnecessarily burdensome requirements or utilize exchange-listed derivatives that likely provide an imperfect hedge to the underlying risk.

Neither of these choices is attractive. The first means capital that should be helping companies grow, invest and create jobs now has to be diverted to manage risk.

The latter option leaves companies without customized options to manage their risk; they thus have to compensate by, for instance, charging higher prices. It also introduces a new "basis risk," which is the potential for the movement in price between the risk the company is attempting to hedge and the actual risk that the listed or centrally cleared product hedges.

Once again, the result is the need to compensate by investing less elsewhere or raising prices.

As we see, rushed government action can have unintended consequences that can hurt job growth and set our businesses on a weaker competitive footing. Congress should give thoughtful consideration to these ramifications before the bill comes before the full House in the coming weeks.

• Cantor is the House Republican Whip.

Dems Go Nuclear



Health Care: Democrats seem set to use the "nuclear option" to ram their government health takeover into law. Bipartisanship already looked dead; now it looks extinct.

The health care revolution the Democratic Congress has planned — with its inevitable medical rationing, thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums, and coverage of illegal aliens — may get placed on the familiar fast track used to spend hundreds and hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars this year.

Instead of the 60 votes needed in the Senate if proper parliamentary rules were followed, passing this reshaping of the medical system as a "budget reconciliation" measure would mean only a simple majority was needed.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., accused of cheating on his taxes, last week held a hearing to let the House version of the health reform bill be passed this way. As the Washington weekly Human Events reports, Democratic leaders "have apparently invoked the 'nuclear option' to shut out Republicans and ensure the bill is passed before the end of the year."

So all those "town hells" during the summer, where senators and congressmen were given an earful about passing secretly written thousand-page bills without reading them, will be ignored.

In the age of the Internet, Congress refuses to post for computer access the most consequential legislation in history, as far as its effect on human lives (and deaths) is concerned, before voting on it.

The people will have to wait until it's all signed, sealed and delivered before finding out exactly how this government-imposed monster will devour health care as Americans have known it for all their lives.

And why? Because both congressional Democrats and the White House are afraid of the power of the people. Just as they are both afraid to give the opposing party a seat at the negotiating table.

Rangel didn't allow Republicans to offer amendments in committee. Why not? Fear that Democrats might be embarrassed by having to reject a Republican amendment to protect Medicare, for one thing. And fear in general that the people might catch wind of a few bipartisan ideas that sound more sensible than their big government solutions.

The magnitude of what Congress is about to do is staggering. The federal government is about to begin dictating Americans' behavior regarding the most intimate and vital area of life — health.

You play ball with Uncle Sam and pay thousands and thousands of dollars for far more expensive insurance than what you're now used to, or you get slapped with fines. And as yet we don't know how heavy those fines will be — or if noncooperation with the new system will mean more than fines.

Doesn't Congress owe it to us to provide time to mull this over before it takes force?

Shouldn't the exact wording of this radical transformation of our medical system be available on the Internet for weeks before a floor vote takes place?

And shouldn't medical experts, health care providers and legal analysts get the opportunity to read every word of such a bill carefully, then give their well-considered analysis to concerned Americans?

Apparently not, according to those now running Washington.

To them, this is a rare opportunity to take a giant step toward single-payer, European-style socialized medicine. And they have no intention of letting the people stop them.