May 21, 2009
Posted: 1814 GMT

Hello everyone,

Protecting the United States from attack was the topic of two wildly differing speeches today.

On the one hand, President Barack Obama, in the National Archives (a building which houses the U.S. Constitution) addressed the nation to talk about Guantanamo Bay and nationals ecurity.

Yesterday, the U.S. Congress denied the President funding to close Gitmo. Lawmakers said they needed to see concrete plans for what the President would do with the detainees before anything else could happen.

Barack Obama vowed to move ahead with the closure and said he would work with Congress to find solutions for all 240 remaining inmates. Some would go through civilian courts in the U.S. Others might be indefinitely detained in supermax prisons. A few might be resettled elsewhere.

For Mister Obama, whatever happens to the prisonners, the process must "enlist the power of our most fundemental values." The president wants the world to know this is a Bush-created mess and that he will not flout fundemental American values for the sake of expediency.

Just as the President finished his speech, former Vice President Dick Cheney was waiting for his cue to take to another podium, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washginton D.C..

Within seconds of the President, Mister Cheney defended Bush-era interrogations techniques and asked again for the release of memos he says would justify the use of what some call totture. The information obtained from practices such as waterboarding, said Cheney, prevented attacks.

For a man who barely said a word in public for eight years, the former Vice-President doesn't seem to be able to stop talking these days.

Also at the IDesk today, that alleged plot to bomb synagogues by suspected "homegrown terrorists" with no connection to international terrorist networks. We'll have a report from New York on the latest.

We'll also talk to Bill Scheider about the latest CNN/Opinion Research poll on how Americans feel about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The results are surprising in some cases. Not as many people as I thought agree with President Obama's strategy of increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan. We'll have the latest results.

Plus, we'll tell what countries have the highest life expectancy for women and men, according to the World Health Organization. There are a few surprises in there as well.

And the rest of the day's top news stories as always!

See you on TV,


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miriam   May 21st, 2009 6:37 pm ET

If and when you get a report from Ben Wedeman on an outpost demolition and Jerusalem Day, as Isha Sesay did in the earlier edition of international desk, there are some points you should be aware of:

The outpost demolition was not a gesture to the US after Netanyahu's visit, but an action which had been planned before.These are illegal under Israeli law.

Jerusalem Day celebrates the reunification of Jerusalem. From 1948 -1967, when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control, Jews were banned from visiting their most holy sites. Reunification returned to the Jews the freedom of worship that had been denied and allowed Arabs of East Jerusalem access to West Jerusalem. Under Jordanian rule there was no claim for a Palestinian state nor Jerusalem as a capital.

Today, many Palestinians prefer to live under Israeli rule in East Jerusalem than Palestinian control in the West Bank since they know that they will be granted greater freedoms and access to public facilities. It is therefore strange that they then choose to demonstrate against reunification ( English banners for foreign media attraction).

Almost half the house demolitions in Jerusalem this year have been in Jewish West Jerusalem. Municipal law states that illegally built structures have to be demolished or sealed. It is extrememly difficult for anyone to receive building permits in Jerusalem, a process that can take years. This is a problem for all residents, not just the Arabs.

Jayne   May 21st, 2009 7:15 pm ET

The US may well be guilty of creating terrorists at Guantanamo I see it as their sole responsibility to accommodate them after closure.

Pharm Jia   May 21st, 2009 9:33 pm ET

Chenny said the use of controversial "enhanced interrogation techniques" was a success that saved thousands of lives. I have no idea where he got the figures. But I wanted to ask the former vice president if he is under waterboarding, would he betray America? if not, then the enhanced interrogation techniques will certainly not work on these ideological persons. If his answer is "yes", then I would support for the techniques. Simple is that!

saadia   May 21st, 2009 11:55 pm ET

Regarding Pres Obama's policy about Git'mo closure and the fact that water boarding create terrorists (according to him), we in Pakistan would like to know, whether "Drone Attacks" in Pakistani tribal belt are winning any friends over there.This punishment which is being meted out to a supposedly allied country is much harsher and severe.When one hell fire missile lands in a Pakistani territory, it is all but a bolt from the sky and encompasses a judge a jury and an execution. Pres Obama recently said and I quote "we are fighting two wars:one in Afghanistan and one in Iraq "may I ask how? could he forget the discrete war which he is waging across Afghan border inside Pakistani territory.The fact is three countries are embroiled in wars – Pakistan , Afghanistan and Iraq.Pak army is fighting a bloody insurgency inside Pakistani territory.Our country was sucked into this war and Obama's policy of hell fire missile strikes by Predator drones inside Pakistan is not helping in reducing the number of terrorist.Doing away with policy of Drone Attacks in Pakistan would be more effective in reducing the number of terrorist then doing away with Water Boarding on terror detainees.Majority of Pakistanis think that, with friends like America who needs enemies or terrorist in this case.

Dr.Naeema   May 22nd, 2009 6:27 am ET

Reference to the Pres Obama' s policy statement regarding closure of Git"mo which according to him is against the civil liberties , rule of law and the basic ideals of the constitution as evisaged by the founding founders. It is requested for your information same is true for each and every country . Its high time America learns to respect intertional law.This is in reference to Drone Attacks in a soverign country Pakistan, Which is a clear violation of international law. This puts the USA in the same category as the terrorist organizations, the so called Al -Quaida, Taliban militants ,white supremist organizations(in America), Bath separist , IRA,Tamil tigers etc.They all have no respect for the law of the land and do not follow any international norms.For all of them "Might is Right" and that is what America is doing under Pres Obam's Stewardship

Md. Aseer Jubair Khan Majlish.   May 22nd, 2009 6:55 am ET

Guantanamo bay detainees are going to be transferred to different jails in USA or In Europe. The 240 detainees will be able to get out of the Guantanamo bay detainee camp. The Guantanamo bay detainee centre will be closed for ever. Barak Obama will be able to show concrete plans for closing Guantanamo bay camp. I hope senate will agree with the President. But what I am concern about is that can anybody tell that there will be no Guantanamo bay in future. Will we not going to see the pictures that we have seen in Guantanamo detainee camp or in Abu Garib jail. The dangerous detainees of Guantanamo bay should be treated like human beings. Because a prisoner must be brought to justice for his/her wrong doing. Then he /she will be punished. But one cannot captivate a person year after year without trial. USA is at war in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But the prisoners of war are not treated according to the ethics of Geneva Convention. They are saying it as a war against terrorism and the prisoners are not prisoners of war are they are terrorists.

Bob Macdonald   May 22nd, 2009 8:24 pm ET

I think Cheney is right: it is far too easy to forget 9/11 and the threat that remains. I remember that day, the utter shock at office buildings in a modern city being brought down like that. That anyone believed the only response that day was to launch a plodding and ineffective episode of CSI, are deeply mistaken. The right thing to do was to wham back as hard as possible to the people who facilitated that attack.

As for debates like Md Aseer Jubair Khan Majlish likes to have (a modern equivalent of the angels dancing on the head of the pin debate that vexed people in the middle ages), if you live outside the jurisdiction of international law and states, well, what happens to you after that is really your own fault. If you think Abu Ghraib was shocking, the military has captured footage of what islamic radicals get up to: its far, far worse. If they released that stuff, it would be difficult for many muslims living in the west.

Md. Aseer Jubair Khan Majlish.   May 23rd, 2009 1:57 pm ET

Dear Bob Macdonald, It far too easy to show your strength on a captured man. But the attitude you will show towards a detainee should be inside your law. The Taliban has done so many terrible things to captured persons. But that is not beyond their laws they have done what their laws permit them. Again when they were in power in Afghanistan they made their own constitution and were punished people according their own law.Again so far I know they did not violet the ethics of Geneva Convention. So, there was no violation of constitution. I know some of the laws are terrible and that’s why they are out of power in Afghanistan. If you want to punish the Terrorists as hard as possible please change the ethics of Geneva Convention. Then the people of the world will not say a single word. There will be start of another war.

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