Friday, May 24, 2013
Obama's Ambivalent War on Terrorism
President Obama spoke in detail Thursday about the US drone program, firmly defending the controversial strikes as legal and necessary to national security - while at the same time announcing that he was setting new limits on their use. The President for the first time personally acknowledged that US drone strikes have killed several Americans overseas, only one of whom was targeted. Attorney General Eric Holder made the information public a day earlier. Obama confirmed that he had signed a directive setting guidelines for the strikes. "Simply put, these strikes have saved lives," Obama said. In a major speech on anti-terrorism, the President also renewed his call for closing Guantanamo Bay. Some Republican lawmakers were angered by Obama's urging Congress to lift restrictions on transferring detainees and revealing that the Defense Department is now looking for a US domestic location for military commissions. He emphasized that he wants to detain and prosecute terrorists as if in a normal, criminal law system rather than a war tribunal. The President also spoke about his long-stymied effort to close Guantanamo Bay and said the administration is also looking to transfer detainees outside of the prison camp once again. He said the administration was lifting a moratorium on prisoner transfers to Yemen. It was a proposal Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., called "very troubling," suggesting Yemen conditions are not adequate. In re-affirming his pledge to close the detention center at Guantanamo, Obama is seeking a renewed effort to transfer its 166 detainees, some of whom are on hunger strike and being force-fed, to other countries. Congress and the White House have argued since Obama took office in 2009 over the fate of the suspects and whether they can be brought to trial on US soil. In the meantime, the detainees have been held for years with diminishing hope that they will charged with a crime or be given a trial. The president addressed the program in a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, DC. Obama's new policy would still require congressional approval to move detainees to US prisons if the prison is to close. Representative Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he's "open" to a presidential proposal on Guantanamo Bay but called for more than "talking points." "This speech was only necessary due to a deeply inconsistent counter-terrorism policy, one that maintains it is more humane to kill a terrorist with a drone, than detain and interrogate him at Guantanamo Bay," he said in a statement, asking how the president would handle terrorists too dangerous to release buty who cannot be tried. "Podium platitudes cannot make up for solid answers to these questions," he said. Earlier, former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told Newsmax TV that it was a mistake for Obama in his 2008 campaign to say he wanted to shut Guantanamo, and that by doing so, it would eliminate an al-Qaida recruiting point."Gitmo is an excuse for al-Qaida; it's not the reason. If Gitmo did close, they'd find another recruiting tool. The facility was set up because there was no place else to put those people, and that remains true today," Bolton said. "The notion that you let them go simply means that at least a third will return to the battlefield against us and probably much more than that. We say a third of those released have been recidivists, but those are the ones we know about." Bolton told Fox News that since 9/11, al-Qaida "has metastasized into the Arabian peninsula, into the Maghreb, into Iraq. It doesn’t follow a corporate or government organization chart. It's a much more distributed network. "The threat is growing, not receding....They did it in Boston on April 15; they did it in London yesterday." On the subject of Obama's admission on the use of drones, Bolton, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has mixed feelings. "I'm glad he's defended the use of the drones to date. That helps legitimize them beyond any question, including in the elimination of Americans that have turned against their country and are waging war against it," he told Newsmax. "But to say, having declared victory now, we're going to limit our use of drones...the president here is really saying that the tactic which formerly was a mark of their success in the war against terrorism, we're going to abandon. "So you figure that out. This is a cause for celebration in terrorist camps all over the Middle East." ~~~~~ Dear readers, we are seeing once again President Obama's indecision about the war on terrorism. He takes credit for successes while trying to distance himself from the unpleasant realities of the tactics required to garner successes. War is always bloody and violent. War against faceless and fanatic terrorists, even more so. But denying that terrorism is still rampant - refusing to call terrorism by its name - cutting back on tactics that have worked to bring down terrorist individuals and cells -- these leadership actions only make the job harder for those on the front lines risking their lives to make the world a safer place. They deserve a President who fully supports them.