There is far more continuity than change in detention and interrogation policies than either President Obama or Vice President Cheney care to admit.
There are several reasons for that: There are no easy answers. We had to build a framework to deal with the threat quickly in the wake of 9/11, amid all the uncertainties and unknowns that followed.
Rather than act like a band of brothers who face a common cause to keep the nation free and safe, Obama and Cheney are bickering as if they were both still on the campaign trail.
Congress was a poor and divided partner. Many on the left and the right played politics with the issue. The international community played Monday-morning quarterback from the side lines.
For all these reasons, the choices and options were difficult for both administrations. The White House found that out when it released the CIA memos and again when the Senate slam-dunked the "no plan" to close GITMO.
But rather than act like a band of brothers who face a common cause to keep the nation free and safe, Obama and Cheney are bickering as if they were both still on the campaign trail.
This debate does nothing to advance the cause of winning the long war. Here's why.
By not admitting that the challenges and solutions for both administration are more or less the same, Obama risks undermining his credibility. He is not giving -- and never will give -- the left everything it wants, and they will punish him for it. On the other hand, he will lead the far right to think he is rolling back Bush policies and they will come after him as well.
As for the former vice president, while he certainly can and should defend what Bush did to prevent another 9/11, the debate has become a distraction from the real issue.
We should spend much more time debating the way forward. For example, the current Obama interrogation restrictions mean that the CIA cannot interrogate a suspected terrorist as forcefully as the NYPD can interrogate a suspected shoplifter. Does that make sense? That is something worth debating.
James Jay Carafano is Senior Research Fellow in national security policy at The Heritage Foundation.
First Appeared in FoxNews.com