By Mark Memmott

Conservative pundit William Kristol said former vice president Dick Cheney would be giving a "real humdinger" of a speech last night, and Cheney did just that.

At the Center for Security Policy in Washington, Cheney:

-- Said "the White House must stop dithering while America's armed forces are in danger" in Afghanistan. "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."

-- Assailed the Obama team for not imitating the Bush administration on national security policy.

"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," Cheney said. "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."

-- Defended the Bush administration against charges that it allowed some suspected terrorists to be tortured.

"In short, to call enhanced interrogation a program of torture is not only to disregard the program's legal underpinnings and safeguards," Cheney said. "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."

The text of Cheney's address is posted here. And the center has made video available as well:

The center gave Cheney its "Keeper of the Flame" award. The organization is run by Reagan-era Defense Department official Frank Gaffney.

categories: Bush Years, National Intelligence, Obama Administration

6:55 - October 22, 2009