May 21st, 2009
10:39 AM ET
11 years ago

Cheney defends Bush record, rips Obama

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the Bush administration's national security record Thursday, and argued that President Barack Obama is responsible for weakening the country's ability to combat al Qaeda and other extremists.

Cheney argued that the Bush administration "didn't invent" the authority exercised in the war against al Qaeda and others. He said it was clearly granted by the Constitution and legislation passed by Congress after the September 11 attacks.

He also said the use of controversial "enhanced interrogation techniques" was a success that saved thousands of lives.

At the same time, Cheney argued that Obama's decision to release Bush-era interrogation memos was a reckless and unfair distraction in the fight against extremists.

Full text of Cheney speech after the jump

As prepared for delivery Vice President Cheney
Remarks at the American Enterprise Institute
Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thank you all very much, and Arthur, thank you for that introduction.
It’s good to be back at AEI, where we have many friends. Lynne is
one of your longtime scholars, and I’m looking forward to spending
more time here myself as a returning trustee. What happened was,
they were looking for a new member of the board of trustees, and
they asked me to head up the search committee.

I first came to AEI after serving at the Pentagon, and departed only
after a very interesting job offer came along. I had no expectation of
returning to public life, but my career worked out a little differently.
Those eight years as vice president were quite a journey, and during
a time of big events and great decisions, I don’t think I missed much.

Being the first vice president who had also served as secretary of
defense, naturally my duties tended toward national security. I
focused on those challenges day to day, mostly free from the usual
political distractions. I had the advantage of being a vice president
content with the responsibilities I had, and going about my work with
no higher ambition. Today, I’m an even freer man. Your kind
invitation brings me here as a private citizen – a career in politics
behind me, no elections to win or lose, and no favor to seek.

The responsibilities we carried belong to others now. And though I’m
not here to speak for George W. Bush, I am certain that no one
wishes the current administration more success in defending the
country than we do. We understand the complexities of national
security decisions. We understand the pressures that confront a
president and his advisers. Above all, we know what is at stake. And
though administrations and policies have changed, the stakes for
America have not changed.

Right now there is considerable debate in this city about the
measures our administration took to defend the American people.
Today I want to set forth the strategic thinking behind our policies. I

do so as one who was there every day of the Bush Administration –
who supported the policies when they were made, and without
hesitation would do so again in the same circumstances.

When President Obama makes wise decisions, as I believe he has
done in some respects on Afghanistan, and in reversing his plan to
release incendiary photos, he deserves our support. And when he
faults or mischaracterizes the national security decisions we made in
the Bush years, he deserves an answer. The point is not to look
backward. Now and for years to come, a lot rides on our President’s
understanding of the security policies that preceded him. And
whatever choices he makes concerning the defense of this country,
those choices should not be based on slogans and campaign
rhetoric, but on a truthful telling of history.

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 September 11th, 2001 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.

That attack itself was, of course, the most devastating strike in a
series of terrorist plots carried out against Americans at home and
abroad. In 1993, terrorists bombed the World Trade Center, hoping
to bring down the towers with a blast from below. The attacks
continued in 1995, with the bombing of U.S. facilities in Riyadh, Saudi
Arabia; the killing of servicemen at Khobar Towers in 1996; the attack
on our embassies in East Africa in 1998; the murder of American
sailors on the USS Cole in 2000; and then the hijackings of 9/11, and
all the grief and loss we suffered on that day.

Nine-eleven caused everyone to take a serious second look at
threats that had been gathering for a while, and enemies whose plans
were getting bolder and more sophisticated. Throughout the 90s,
America had responded to these attacks, if at all, on an ad hoc basis.
The first attack on the World Trade Center was treated as a law

enforcement problem, with everything handled after the fact – crime
scene, arrests, indictments, convictions, prison sentences, case

That’s how it seemed from a law enforcement perspective, at least –
but for the terrorists the case was not closed. For them, it was
another offensive strike in their ongoing war against the United
States. And it turned their minds to even harder strikes with higher
casualties. Nine-eleven made necessary a shift of policy, aimed at a
clear strategic threat – what the Congress called “an unusual and
extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the
United States.” From that moment forward, instead of merely
preparing to round up the suspects and count up the victims after the
next attack, we were determined to prevent attacks in the first place.

We could count on almost universal support back then, because
everyone understood the environment we were in. We’d just been hit
by a foreign enemy – leaving 3,000 Americans dead, more than we
lost at Pearl Harbor. In Manhattan, we were staring at 16 acres of
ashes. The Pentagon took a direct hit, and the Capitol or the White
House were spared only by the Americans on Flight 93, who died
bravely and defiantly.

Everyone expected a follow-on attack, and our job was to stop it. We
didn’t know what was coming next, but everything we did know in that
autumn of 2001 looked bad. This was the world in which al-Qaeda
was seeking nuclear technology, and A. Q. Khan was selling nuclear
technology on the black market. We had the anthrax attack from an
unknown source. We had the training camps of Afghanistan, and
dictators like Saddam Hussein with known ties to Mideast terrorists.

These are just a few of the problems we had on our hands. And
foremost on our minds was the prospect of the very worst coming to
pass – a 9/11 with nuclear weapons.

For me, one of the defining experiences was the morning of 9/11
itself. As you might recall, I was in my office in that first hour, when
radar caught sight of an airliner heading toward the White House at

500 miles an hour. That was Flight 77, the one that ended up hitting
the Pentagon. With the plane still inbound, Secret Service agents
came into my office and said we had to leave, now. A few moments
later I found myself in a fortified White House command post
somewhere down below.

There in the bunker came the reports and images that so many
Americans remember from that day – word of the crash in
Pennsylvania, the final phone calls from hijacked planes, the final
horror for those who jumped to their death to escape burning alive. In
the years since, I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different
man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that. But I’ll freely admit that watching
a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an
underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view
your responsibilities.

To make certain our nation country never again faced such a day of
horror, we developed a comprehensive strategy, beginning with far
greater homeland security to make the United States a harder target.
But since wars cannot be won on the defensive, we moved decisively
against the terrorists in their hideouts and sanctuaries, and committed
to using every asset to take down their networks. We decided, as
well, to confront the regimes that sponsored terrorists, and to go after
those who provide sanctuary, funding, and weapons to enemies of
the United States. We turned special attention to regimes that had
the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, and might transfer
such weapons to terrorists.

We did all of these things, and with bipartisan support put all these
policies in place. It has resulted in serious blows against enemy
operations … the take-down of the A.Q. Khan network … and the
dismantling of Libya’s nuclear program. It’s required the commitment
of many thousands of troops in two theaters of war, with high points
and some low points in both Iraq and Afghanistan – and at every turn,
the people of our military carried the heaviest burden. Well over
seven 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 we’re left to draw one of two conclusions – and here is the great
dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can
look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has
worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or
you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a
one-off event – coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not
sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion
you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years,
and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.

The key to any strategy is accurate intelligence, and skilled
professionals to get that information in time to use it. In seeking to
guard this nation against the threat of catastrophic violence, our
Administration gave intelligence officers the tools and lawful authority
they needed to gain vital information. We didn’t invent that authority.
It is drawn from Article Two of the Constitution. And it was given
specificity by the Congress after 9/11, in a Joint Resolution
authorizing “all necessary and appropriate force” to protect the
American people.

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the
Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track
contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United
States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the
editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After
9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the
stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that
same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-
Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t
serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

In the years after 9/11, our government also understood that the
safety of the country required collecting information known only to the
worst of the terrorists. And in a few cases, that information could be
gained only through tough interrogations.

In top secret meetings about enhanced interrogations, I made my

own beliefs clear. I was and remain a strong proponent of our
enhanced interrogation program. The interrogations were used on
hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal,
essential, justified, successful, and the right thing to do. The
intelligence officers who questioned the terrorists can be proud of
their work and proud of the results, because they prevented the
violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent

Our successors in office have their own views on all of these matters.
By presidential decision, last month we saw the selective release of
documents relating to enhanced interrogations. This is held up as a
bold exercise in open government, honoring the public’s right to
know. We’re informed, as well, that there was much agonizing over
this decision.

Yet somehow, when the soul-searching was done and the veil was
lifted on the policies of the Bush administration, the public was given
less than half the truth. The released memos were carefully redacted
to leave out references to what our government learned through the
methods in question. Other memos, laying out specific terrorist plots
that were averted, apparently were not even considered for release.
For reasons the administration has yet to explain, they believe the
public has a right to know the method of the questions, but not the
content of the answers.

Over on the left wing of the president’s party, there appears to be little
curiosity in finding out what was learned from the terrorists. The kind
of answers they’re after would be heard before a so-called “Truth
Commission.” Some are even demanding that those who
recommended and approved the interrogations be prosecuted, in
effect treating political disagreements as a punishable offense, and
political opponents as criminals. It’s hard to imagine a worse
precedent, filled with more possibilities for trouble and abuse, than to
have an incoming administration criminalize the policy decisions of its

Apart from doing a serious injustice to intelligence operators and

lawyers who deserve far better for their devoted service, the danger
here is a loss of focus on national security, and what it requires. I
would advise the administration to think very carefully about the
course ahead. All the zeal that has been directed at interrogations is
utterly misplaced. And staying on that path will only lead our
government further away from its duty to protect the American

One person who by all accounts objected to the release of the
interrogation memos was the Director of Central Intelligence, Leon
Panetta. He was joined in that view by at least four of his
predecessors. I assume they felt this way because they understand
the importance of protecting intelligence sources, methods, and
personnel. But now that this once top-secret information is out for all
to see – including the enemy – let me draw your attention to some
points that are routinely overlooked.

It is a fact that only detainees of the highest intelligence value were
ever subjected to enhanced interrogation. You’ve heard endlessly
about waterboarding. It happened to three terrorists. One of them
was Khalid Sheikh Muhammed – the mastermind of 9/11, who has
also boasted about beheading Daniel Pearl.

We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn’t
know about al-Qaeda’s plans, but Khalid Sheikh Muhammed and a
few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent 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.

Maybe you’ve heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would
talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like
many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business
at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an
elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before
al-Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.

In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and

sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib
prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At
Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation
of American law, military regulations, and simple decency. For the
harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America’s cause, they
deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast
of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful,
and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a
few malevolent men.

Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its
operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used
was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes, and treaty
obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress,
including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the
program and on the methods.

Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and
to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage
based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few
matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony
moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way
are in no position to lecture anyone about “values.” Intelligence
officers of the United States were not trying to rough up some
terrorists simply to avenge the dead of 9/11. We know the difference
in this country between justice and vengeance. Intelligence officers
were not trying to get terrorists to confess to past killings; they were
trying to prevent future killings. From the beginning of the program,
there was only one focused and all-important purpose. We sought,
and we in fact obtained, specific information on terrorist plans.

Those are the basic facts on enhanced interrogations. And to call this
a program of torture is to libel the dedicated professionals who have
saved American lives, and to cast terrorists and murderers as
innocent victims. What’s more, to completely rule out enhanced

interrogation methods in the future is unwise in the extreme. It is
recklessness cloaked in righteousness, and would make the
American people less safe.

The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of
middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take
comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum.
If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are
unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the
President is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight
against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep
you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed
terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-
armed terrorist out of the United States. Triangulation is a political
strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that
goes unlearned … one lead that goes unpursued … can bring on
catastrophe – it’s no time for splitting differences. There is never a
good time to compromise when the lives and safety of the American
people are in the balance.

Behind the overwrought reaction to enhanced interrogations is a
broader misconception about the threats that still face our country.
You can sense the problem in the emergence of euphemisms that
strive to put an imaginary distance between the American people and
the terrorist enemy. Apparently using the term “war” where terrorists
are concerned is starting to feel a bit dated. So henceforth we’re
advised by the administration to think of the fight against terrorists as,
quote, “Overseas contingency operations.” In the event of another
terrorist attack on America, the Homeland Security Department
assures us it will be ready for this, quote, “man-made disaster” –
never mind that the whole Department was created for the purpose of
protecting Americans from terrorist attack.

And when you hear that there are no more, quote, “enemy
combatants,” as there were back in the days of that scary war on
terror, at first that sounds like progress. The only problem is that the
phrase is gone, but the same assortment of killers and would-be
mass murderers are still there. And finding some less judgmental or

more pleasant-sounding name for terrorists doesn’t change what they
are – or what they would do if we let them loose.

On his second day in office, President Obama announced that he
was closing the detention facility at Guantanamo. This step came
with little deliberation and no plan. Now the President says some of
these terrorists should be brought to American soil for trial in our court
system. Others, he says, will be shipped to third countries. But so
far, the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take
hardened terrorists. So what happens then? Attorney General
Holder and others have admitted that the United States will be
compelled to accept a number of the terrorists here, in the homeland,
and it has even been suggested US taxpayer dollars will be used to
support them. On this one, I find myself in complete agreement with
many in the President’s own party. Unsure how to explain to their
constituents why terrorists might soon be relocating into their states,
these Democrats chose instead to strip funding for such a move out
of the most recent war supplemental.

The administration has found that it’s easy to receive applause in
Europe for closing Guantanamo. But it’s tricky to come up with an
alternative that will serve the interests of justice and America’s
national security. Keep in mind that these are hardened terrorists
picked up overseas since 9/11. The ones that were considered low-
risk were released a long time ago. And among these, we learned
yesterday, many were treated too leniently, because 1 in 7 cut a
straight path back to their prior line of work and have conducted
murderous attacks in the Middle East. I think the President will find,
upon reflection, that to bring the worst of the worst terrorists inside
the United States would be cause for great danger and regret in the
years to come.

In the category of euphemism, the prizewinning entry would be a
recent editorial in a familiar newspaper that referred to terrorists
we’ve captured as, quote, “abducted.” Here we have ruthless
enemies of this country, stopped in their tracks by brave operatives in
the service of America, and a major editorial page makes them sound
like they were kidnap victims, picked up at random on their way to the


It’s one thing to adopt the euphemisms that suggest we’re no longer
engaged in a war. These are just words, and in the end it’s the
policies that matter most. You don’t want to call them enemy
combatants? Fine. Call them what you want – just don’t bring them
into the United States. Tired of calling it a war? Use any term you
prefer. Just remember it is a serious step to begin unraveling some
of the very policies that have kept our people safe since 9/11.

Another term out there that slipped into the discussion is the notion
that American interrogation practices were a “recruitment tool” for the
enemy. On this theory, by the tough questioning of killers, we have
supposedly fallen short of our own values. This recruitment-tool
theory has become something of a mantra lately, including from the
President himself. And after a familiar fashion, it excuses the violent
and blames America for the evil that others do. It’s another version of
that same old refrain from the Left, “We brought it on ourselves.”

It is much closer to the truth that terrorists hate this country precisely
because of the values we profess and seek to live by, not by some
alleged failure to do so. Nor are terrorists or those who see them as
victims exactly the best judges of America’s moral standards, one
way or the other.

Critics of our policies are given to lecturing on the theme of being
consistent with American values. But no moral value held dear by the
American people obliges public servants ever to sacrifice innocent
lives to spare a captured terrorist from unpleasant things. And when
an entire population is targeted by a terror network, nothing is more
consistent with American values than to stop them.

As a practical matter, too, terrorists may lack much, but they have
never lacked for grievances against the United States. Our belief in
freedom of speech and religion … our belief in equal rights for women
… our support for Israel … our cultural and political influence in the
world – these are the true sources of resentment, all mixed in with the
lies and conspiracy theories of the radical clerics. These recruitment

tools were in vigorous use throughout the 1990s, and they were
sufficient to motivate the 19 recruits who boarded those planes on
September 11th, 2001.

The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as
we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the
world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful
resolution of differences – and what you end up with is a list of the
reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making,
appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move
them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And
when they see the American government caught up in arguments
about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional
rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder
whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see
just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken,
our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity.

What is equally certain is this: The broad-based strategy set in motion
by President Bush obviously had nothing to do with causing the
events of 9/11. But the serious way we dealt with terrorists from then
on, and all the intelligence we gathered in that time, had everything to
do with preventing another 9/11 on our watch. The enhanced
interrogations of high-value detainees and the terrorist surveillance
program have without question made our country safer. Every senior
official who has been briefed on these classified matters knows of
specific attacks that were in the planning stages and were stopped by
the programs we put in place.

This might explain why President Obama has reserved unto himself
the right to order the use of enhanced interrogation should he deem it
appropriate. What value remains to that authority is debatable, given
that the enemy now knows exactly what interrogation methods to
train against, and which ones not to worry about. Yet having reserved
for himself the authority to order enhanced interrogation after an
emergency, you would think that President Obama would be less
disdainful of what his predecessor authorized after 9/11. It’s almost
gone unnoticed that the president has retained the power to order the

same methods in the same circumstances. When they talk about
interrogations, he and his administration speak as if they have
resolved some great moral dilemma in how to extract critical
information from terrorists. Instead they have put the decision off,
while assigning a presumption of moral superiority to any decision
they make in the future.

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national
security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins
with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who
have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. Across
the world, governments that have helped us capture terrorists will fear
that sensitive joint operations will be compromised. And at the CIA,
operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House
or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why
should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when,
even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road
the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion,
outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress
are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive
intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head
for the hills at the first sign of controversy.

As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official
secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of his
defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises
the question why they won’t let the American people decide that for
themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed
some of it again at the National Archives last month. I’ve formally
asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the
intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the
consequences for national security. And as you may have heard, last
week that request was formally rejected. It’s worth recalling that
ultimate power of declassification belongs to the President himself.
President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what
happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that
same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the
good work of our intelligence officials.

I believe this information will confirm the value of interrogations – and
I am not alone. President Obama’s own Director of National
Intelligence, Admiral Blair, has put it this way: “High value information
came from interrogations in which those methods were used and
provided a deeper understanding of the al-Qaeda organization that
was attacking this country.” End quote. Admiral Blair put that
conclusion in writing, only to see it mysteriously deleted in a later
version released by the administration – the missing 26 words that tell
an inconvenient truth. But they couldn’t change the words of George
Tenet, the CIA Director under Presidents Clinton and Bush, who
bluntly said: “I know that this program has saved lives. I know we’ve
disrupted plots. I know this program alone is worth more than the
FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the National Security
Agency put together have been able to tell us.” End of quote.

If Americans do get the chance to learn what our country was spared,
it’ll do more than clarify the urgency and the rightness of enhanced
interrogations in the years after 9/11. It may help us to stay focused
on dangers that have not gone away. Instead of idly debating which
political opponents to prosecute and punish, our attention will return
to where it belongs – on the continuing threat of terrorist violence,
and on stopping the men who are planning it.

For all the partisan anger that still lingers, our administration will
stand up well in history – not despite our actions after 9/11, but
because of them. And when I think about all that was to come during
our administration and afterward – the recriminations, the second-
guessing, the charges of “hubris” – my mind always goes back to that

To put things in perspective, suppose that on the evening of 9/11,
President Bush and I had promised that for as long as we held office

– which was to be another 2,689 days – there would never be
another terrorist attack inside this country. Talk about hubris – it
would have seemed a rash and irresponsible thing to say. People
would have doubted that we even understood the enormity of what
had just happened. Everyone had a very bad feeling about all of this,

and felt certain that the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville
were only the beginning of the violence.

Of course, we made no such promise. Instead, we promised an all-
out effort to protect this country. We said we would marshal all
elements of our nation’s power to fight this war and to win it. We said
we would never forget what had happened on 9/11, even if the day
came when many others did forget. We spoke of a war that would
“include dramatic strikes, visible on TV, and covert operations, secret
even in success.” We followed through on all of this, and we stayed
true to our word.

To the very end of our administration, we kept al-Qaeda terrorists
busy with other problems. We focused on getting their secrets,
instead of sharing ours with them. And on our watch, they never hit
this country again. After the most lethal and devastating terrorist
attack ever, seven and a half years without a repeat is not a record to
be rebuked and scorned, much less criminalized. It is a record to be
continued until the danger has passed.

Along the way there were some hard calls. No decision of national
security was ever made lightly, and certainly never made in haste. As
in all warfare, there have been costs – none higher than the sacrifices
of those killed and wounded in our country’s service. And even the
most decisive victories can never take away the sorrow of losing so
many of our own – all those innocent victims of 9/11, and the heroic
souls who died trying to save them.

For all that we’ve lost in this conflict, the United States has never lost
its moral bearings. And when the moral reckoning turns to the men
known as high-value terrorists, I can assure you they were neither
innocent nor victims. As for those who asked them questions and
got answers: they did the right thing, they made our country safer,
and a lot of Americans are alive today because of them.

Like so many others who serve America, they are not the kind to
insist on a thank-you. But I will always be grateful to each one of
them, and proud to have served with them for a time in the same

cause. They, and so many others, have given honorable service to
our country through all the difficulties and all the dangers. I will
always admire them and wish them well. And I am confident that this
nation will never take their work, their dedication, or their
achievements, for granted.

Thank you very much.

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