WASHINGTON - In back-to-back speeches, US President Barack Obama and former vice president Richard Cheney voiced sharply divergent views over the notorious Guantanamo Bay prison, harsh interrogation policies and other approaches to fighting terrorism, as they forcefully defended their respective policies. Speaking from the National Archives building, where the U.S. Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence are kept, Obama said the United States must continue to see those documents as the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity around the world. Obama said the Bush administrations endorsement of harsh interrogation techniques and its use of Guantanamo to detain terrorist suspects indefinitely had helped swell the ranks of Americas enemies. Despite fierce congressional opposition, including from fellow Democrats, he said some detainees would be brought to the United States and incarcerated in high-security prisons. But he insisted that no one who poses a threat to U.S. national security would be released, much less on American soil. In a separate address, Cheney denounced the Obama administration on several fronts while vigorously defending Bush administration policies, notably the enhanced interrogation techniques that included waterboarding, a practice that simulates drowning and that has been widely characterized as torture. Cheney asserted that the techniques and other Bush administration policies potentially saved hundreds of thousands of innocent lives. In each venue, the speaker appeared pointedly aware of his adversary. Moments after Obama finished speaking, Cheney was introduced in another part of Washington by an American Enterprise Institute official who claimed to know that Obama had purposely scheduled his speech to coincide with Cheneys. Rarely has a top official of a past administration taken such direct and forceful aim at a new president, according to a media analysis. And it was even rarer that a president chose to make such a direct and defensive response to criticism from a former official. But both Cheney and Obama made clear Thursday that they see nothing ordinary in the issues that have driven their disagreement. Both of them described the stakes as the highest facing the nation, and both expressed extraordinary confidence in their conclusions. In the face of criticism from both the left and right, Obama argued that America must adhere to its fundamental values as his administration works to safeguard the nation while cleaning up what he described as a legal mess left by the Bush administration at Guantanamo. He charged that the Bush administration established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable, one that failed to use our values as a compass. That, Obama said, was why he banned so-called enhanced interrogation techniques, ordered the closure of the Guantanamo prison camp and directed authorities to review the cases of all of its detainees. He said the interrogation techniques and the use of Guantanamo alienated friends and allies, undermined the rule of law, helped terrorists gain recruits and increased the will of our enemies to fight us. There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is Americas strongest currency in the world, Obama said. Like the interrogation techniques, it contributed to terrorist recruitment, he said, adding, Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained. We are cleaning up something that is, quite simply, a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, Obama said. The president did not mention Cheney by name in his speech. But he said his own policies represent a new direction from the last eight years, and he vigorously disputed the former vice presidents contention that the harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, were necessary. Now, I know some have argued that brutal methods like waterboarding were necessary to keep us safe, Obama said. I could not disagree more. As commander in chief, I see the intelligence. I bear the responsibility for keeping this country safe. And I categorically reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. Moreover, he said, the methods risked the lives of U.S. troops by making enemies less likely to surrender and more likely to mistreat captured Americans. In short, they did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts, he said. They undermined them. In his speech, Cheney repeatedly invoked the horrors of Sept. 11 and made the case that tough interrogations and other policies of the Bush administration helped save American lives. They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do, Cheney said of the interrogation techniques. They prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people. In an apparent reference to the Obama administration, Cheney also charged that people who consistently distort the truth about the interrogations are in no position to lecture anyone about 'values. He warned: 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. On the issue of bringing Guantanamo detainees to stand trial on U.S. soil, he said, You dont want to call them enemy combatants? Fine. Call them what you want just dont bring them into the United States. He asserted, 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. Cheney reserved some of his harshest language for the New York Times, blasting the newspaper for publication of the governments secret wiretapping programme and insisting that the stories helped al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didnt serve the interests of our country or the safety of our people, he said. After finishing his speech, Cheney abruptly left the auditorium at the think tank without taking questions.