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post #1 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 09:26 AM Thread Starter
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Bush's Gitmo Vindication

Obama still hasn't said where the worst terrorists will go.

President Obama delivered a major speech yesterday on how he intends to prosecute the war on terror (or whatever it's now called), and in particular his desire to close the detention facilities at Guantanamo Bay. As rhetoric, his remarks were at pains to declare a bold new moral direction. On substance, however, the speech and other events this week look more like a vindication of the past seven years.

The President's speech came after both houses of Congress had denied his funding requests to shut down Guantanamo and relocate some of the most dangerous prisoners to the U.S. The 90-6 vote in the Senate was especially notable because all but a half-dozen Democrats opposed their own President, on that high-minded principle known as not-in-my-backyard.

So, to the idea that isolated Alcatraz Island could serve as one possible location, California's Dianne Feinstein says it is a historic landmark and instead suggests a prison in another state. But the most state-of-the-art "supermax" prison in America is in Colorado, and this week that state's new Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet, vetoed that idea; as it happens, he's running for election in 2010.

Then there is the voluble Jim Webb, who in January said Mr. Obama had offered a reasonable timeline in ordering Guantanamo closed in a year. But now the Virginia Democrat opposes closing Gitmo anytime soon while observing to ABC's George Stephanopoulos on Sunday that "We spend hundreds of millions of dollars building an appropriate facility with all security precautions in Guantanamo to try these cases. There are cases against international law." That was the Bush Administration's point all along.

Mr. Obama, for his part, still wants Gitmo closed, and he cited South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham in saying that the idea that the detainees could not be securely held in the U.S. was "not rational." Apparently also irrational is FBI Director Robert Mueller, who this week told Congress that bringing the detainees even to U.S. prisons raised serious concerns, "from providing financing, radicalizing others, [to] the potential for individuals undertaking attacks in the United States."

Yet for all of his attacks on the Bush Administration, which he accused of making "decisions based upon fear rather than foresight," Mr. Obama stuck with his predecessor's support for military commissions, adding some procedural bells and whistles as political cover to justify his past opposition. For the record: Both the left and right, from the ACLU to Dick Cheney, now agree that the President has all but embraced the Bush policy.

Mr. Obama also pledged to release at least 50 detainees to other countries -- about one-tenth the number released under President Bush -- and added that the Administration was in "ongoing discussions" to transfer them. Good luck with that: The Europeans who were so robustly against Gitmo in the Bush years have suddenly discovered its detainees are dangerous. Meanwhile, the countries that might take them, such as Yemen, can't be trusted to prevent them from returning to the battlefield, where they can kill Americans again.

The President will also seek to try some of the detainees in federal courts, citing the recent case of al Qaeda sleeper Ali al-Marri who last month pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy and may be sentenced to a mere 15 years, and possibly much less, in a civilian prison. But what the al-Marri prosecution -- and the soft plea bargain -- really shows is how hard it is to convict terrorists in civilian courts when much of the evidence against them is either classified or wasn't gathered on the battlefield at the time of capture.

Mr. Obama's most remarkable Gitmo sleight-of-hand was on the matter of how to handle the hard cases, those who Mr. Obama said "cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people." After acknowledging this was "the toughest issue we will face" and pledging that he would not "release individuals who endanger the American people," the President proposed . . . well, he didn't really say what he'd do, except that whatever it is must be "defensible and lawful." No wonder the ACLU is in a tizzy.

Which brings us back to Guantanamo. The President went out of his way to insist that its existence "likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained," albeit without offering any evidence, and that it "has weakened American security," again based only on assertion. What is a plain fact is that in the seven-plus years that Gitmo has been in operation the American homeland has not been attacked.

It is also a plain fact -- and one the President acknowledged -- that many of the detainees previously released, often under intense pressure from Mr. Obama's anti-antiterror allies, have returned to careers as Taliban commanders and al Qaeda "emirs." The New York Times reported yesterday on an undisclosed Pentagon report that no fewer than one in seven detainees released from Gitmo have returned to jihad.

Mr. Obama called all of this a "mess" that he had inherited, but in truth the mess is of his own haphazard design. He's the one who announced the end of Guantanamo without any plan for what to do with, or where to put, KSM and other killers. Now he's found that his erstwhile allies in Congress and Europe want nothing to do with them. Tell us again why Gitmo should be closed?

Bush's Gitmo Vindication - WSJ.com

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post #2 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 09:31 AM Thread Starter
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Obama in Bush Clothing

"We were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning."

-- Unnamed and dismayed human rights advocate, on legalizing indefinite detention of alleged terrorists,

the New York Times, May 21


If hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then the flip-flops on previously denounced anti-terror measures are the homage that Barack Obama pays to George Bush. Within 125 days, Obama has adopted with only minor modifications huge swaths of the entire, allegedly lawless Bush program.

The latest flip-flop is the restoration of military tribunals. During the 2008 campaign, Obama denounced them repeatedly, calling them an "enormous failure." Obama suspended them upon his swearing-in. Now they're back.

Of course, Obama will never admit in word what he's doing in deed. As in his rhetorically brilliant national-security speech yesterday claiming to have undone Bush's moral travesties, the military commissions flip-flop is accompanied by the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy.

Cosmetic changes such as Obama's declaration that "we will give detainees greater latitude in selecting their own counsel." Laughable. High-toned liberal law firms are climbing over each other for the frisson of representing these miscreants in court.

What about disallowing evidence received under coercive interrogation? Hardly new, notes former prosecutor Andrew McCarthy. Under the existing rules, military judges have that authority, and they exercised it under the Bush administration to dismiss charges against al-Qaeda operative Mohammed al-Qahtani on precisely those grounds.

On Guantanamo, it's Obama's fellow Democrats who have suddenly discovered the wisdom of Bush's choice. In open rebellion against Obama's pledge to shut it down, the Senate voted 90 to 6 to reject appropriating a single penny until the president explains where he intends to put the inmates. Sen. James Webb, the de facto Democratic authority on national defense, wants the closing to be put on hold. And on Tuesday, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, no Gitmo inmates on American soil -- not even in American jails.

That doesn't leave a lot of places. The home countries won't take them. Europe is recalcitrant. Saint Helena needs refurbishing. Elba didn't work out too well the first time. And Devil's Island is now a tourist destination. Gitmo is starting to look good again. ...

washingtonpost.com

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post #3 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 09:35 AM Thread Starter
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The Other Interrogation Memos

The ones that show results.

President Obama spoke at length yesterday about balancing national security with legal protections, and intelligence secrecy with the need for accountable leadership. But on at least one point, he has the ability to please everyone: Release the still-secret memos that discuss the results of enhanced interrogation against al Qaeda detainees.

Mr. Obama has already released the memos that set the legal limits on interrogation, to much fanfare and (in our case) dismay. But he still refuses to release the memos that former Vice President Dick Cheney and others claim will show that interrogation yielded valuable intelligence that saved American lives. The CIA recently turned down Mr. Cheney's formal request to declassify those memos, but the ultimate declassification authority rests with the President.

Mr. Obama has said he's read the memos and found the evidence of intelligence success to be ambiguous. Fair enough. Let the American people see the evidence and judge for themselves. If Mr. Cheney is exaggerating this antiterror success, we should know. The fact that the Administration won't release the memos, and won't explain why it won't release them, suggests that Mr. Cheney is telling the truth.

The Other Interrogation Memos - WSJ.com

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post #4 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
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No Middle Ground on Terrorism

Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national-security strategy.

'Feigned Outrage Based on a False Narrative'

People who consistently distort the truth are in no position to lecture anyone about 'values.'


The following are excerpts from a speech yesterday on U.S. antiterror policies by former Vice President Dick Cheney at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

We had a lot of blind spots after the attacks on our country. We didn't know about al Qaeda's plans, but Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and a few others did know. And with many thousands of innocent lives potentially in the balance, we didn't think it made sense to let the terrorists answer questions in their own good time, if they answered them at all.

Maybe you've heard that when we captured KSM, he said he would talk as soon as he got to New York City and saw his lawyer. But like many critics of interrogations, he clearly misunderstood the business at hand. American personnel were not there to commence an elaborate legal proceeding, but to extract information from him before al Qaeda could strike again and kill more of our people.

In public discussion of these matters, there has been a strange and sometimes willful attempt to conflate what happened at Abu Ghraib prison with the top secret program of enhanced interrogations. At Abu Ghraib, a few sadistic prison guards abused inmates in violation of American law, military regulations and simple decency. For the harm they did, to Iraqi prisoners and to America's cause, they deserved and received Army justice. And it takes a deeply unfair cast of mind to equate the disgraces of Abu Ghraib with the lawful, skillful and entirely honorable work of CIA personnel trained to deal with a few malevolent men.

Even before the interrogation program began, and throughout its operation, it was closely reviewed to ensure that every method used was in full compliance with the Constitution, statutes and treaty obligations. On numerous occasions, leading members of Congress, including the current speaker of the House, were briefed on the program and on the methods.

Yet for all these exacting efforts to do a hard and necessary job and to do it right, we hear from some quarters nothing but feigned outrage based on a false narrative. In my long experience in Washington, few matters have inspired so much contrived indignation and phony moralizing as the interrogation methods applied to a few captured terrorists.

I might add that people who consistently distort the truth in this way are in no position to lecture anyone about "values." . . .

The administration seems to pride itself on searching for some kind of middle ground in policies addressing terrorism. They may take comfort in hearing disagreement from opposite ends of the spectrum. If liberals are unhappy about some decisions, and conservatives are unhappy about other decisions, then it may seem to them that the president is on the path of sensible compromise. But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half-measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear-armed terrorists out of the United States, you must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States.

Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned, one lead that goes unpursued, can bring on catastrophe -- it's no time for splitting differences. . . .

Releasing the interrogation memos was flatly contrary to the national security interest of the United States. The harm done only begins with top secret information now in the hands of the terrorists, who have just received a lengthy insert for their training manual. . . .

And at the CIA, operatives are left to wonder if they can depend on the White House or Congress to back them up when the going gets tough. Why should any agency employee take on a difficult assignment when, even though they act lawfully and in good faith, years down the road the press and Congress will treat everything they do with suspicion, outright hostility, and second-guessing? Some members of Congress are notorious for demanding they be briefed into the most sensitive intelligence programs. They support them in private, and then head for the hills at the first sign of controversy.

As far as the interrogations are concerned, all that remains an official secret is the information we gained as a result. Some of [the president's] defenders say the unseen memos are inconclusive, which only raises the question why they won't let the American people decide that for themselves. I saw that information as vice president, and I reviewed some of it again at the National Archives last month. I've formally asked that it be declassified so the American people can see the intelligence we obtained, the things we learned, and the consequences for national security.

And as you may have heard, last week that request was formally rejected. It's worth recalling that ultimate power of declassification belongs to the president himself. President Obama has used his declassification power to reveal what happened in the interrogation of terrorists. Now let him use that same power to show Americans what did not happen, thanks to the good work of our intelligence officials.

'Feigned Outrage Based on a False Narrative' - WSJ.com

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post #5 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 09:47 AM
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Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

-President Barack Obama, 1st Inaugural address
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post #7 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 09:58 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by GermanStar View Post
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Which one? Where? ...

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post #8 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 10:04 AM
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Part of an ongoing Botnst-Bear slugfest.

http://www.benzworld.org/forums/off-...ml#post3497973

The dynamic has shifted.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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post #9 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 10:25 AM Thread Starter
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Part of an ongoing Botnst-Bear slugfest.

http://www.benzworld.org/forums/off-...ml#post3497973

The dynamic has shifted.
I'm aware of that so-called "slugfest," but saw none of my four posts/links there. Besides, neither bot nor bear make the points in the first four posts above--or at least not very well--which is why I posted those four articles published just today. Their discussion reflects just a very liberal vs. neo-liberal point of view. This thread is clearly a more moderate and honest look at the critical issues at hand. And I didn't want to have this view buried at post # 900 somewhere.

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post #10 of 23 (permalink) Old 05-22-2009, 10:31 AM
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All you have to do is click the link. It will bring to the same WSJ article that was posted before yours --> Bush's Gitmo Vindication.

"If spending money you don't have is the height of stupidity, borrowing money to give it away is the height of insanity." -- anon
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