EDITORIAL: Is Obama a war criminal yet?
Liberal double-standard is in full view over Gitmo
The Washington Times6:15 p.m., Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees in orange jumpsuits sit in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Americans have faith that the U.S. justice system will handle the five accused Sept. 11 terror plotters in federal court in New York City, Rep. Chris Van Hollen said. (Agence France-Presse/Getty Images)
President Obama quietly signed an executive order on Monday instituting a system for indefinitely holding terrorist detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay (Gitmo), Cuba. The administration also announced that terrorist trials by military commission would recommence. This is a win for U.S. security, but the country has paid a heavy price for Mr. Obama's on-the-job training in counterterrorism.
The low-key announcements stand in marked contrast with the bombast with which Mr. Obama approached this issue just a few years ago. During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama harshly criticized President George W. Bush's detainee policies. When he took office, Mr. Obama theatrically announced that he would close Gitmo in a year and find a way to give the terror detainees the full due-process rights enjoyed by American citizens. In so doing, he legitimized the complaints of the worst critics of American counterterrorism policies, including the terrorists themselves.
Two years later, some learning appears to have occurred at the White House. The president's hasty "close Gitmo" pledge foundered on practical and political grounds. Contrary to the story line peddled by anti-war alarmists, the Bush administration already had released most of the detainees that had been held there, and those who remained were the hard cases who truly threatened U.S. national security. Trying the detainees in civilian courts raised a multitude of nettlesome questions about public evidence, speedy trials, Miranda warnings and the other aspects of due process that didn't support the Bush administration's warfighting approach.
With civilian trials, the prospect loomed of repeated government defeats in court, or the necessity of simply releasing detainees when no prosecution was possible without fatally compromising intelligence sources and methods. Likewise, Mr. Obama discovered that releasing detainees to their home countries was problematic because in many cases the terrorists would be freed almost immediately upon their return. Of course, members of the Bush administration consistently raised these points, but the Obama team simply brushed them off.
The big losers in this decision are members of Mr. Obama's hardline anti-war base. It is the latest in a string of disappointments to the Code Pinkers, Moveon-ers and other formerly Obama-loving peaceniks. The surge in Afghanistan and the ever-lengthening timetable for withdrawal provided them with one regret. The widening and intensifying use of drone aircraft as a counterterrorism tool was another. Now the Gitmo detainees are back in their cages for good. The distraught workers in the peace movement have to be asking themselves how much more they can stand before they begin to mutter the words "Obama" and "war criminal" in the same breath.
The White House detainee policy volte-face vindicates the policies of President George W. Bush. At the very least, Mr. Obama should apologize to his predecessor for smearing his reputation so thoroughly during the 2008 campaign. Our novice commander in chief has learned the valuable lesson that talking about being president, at which Mr. Obama was so adept, is a far cry from actually being president, at which he clearly is not.
June 2021 May 2021 April 2021 March 2021 February 2021 January 2021 December 2020 November 2020 October 2020 September 2020 August 2020 July 2020 June 2020 May 2020 April 2020 March 2020 February 2020 January 2020 December 2019 November 2019 October 2019 September 2019 August 2019 July 2019 June 2019 May 2019 April 2019 March 2019 February 2019 January 2019 December 2018 November 2018 October 2018 September 2018 August 2018 July 2018 June 2018 May 2018 April 2018 March 2018 February 2018 January 2018 December 2017 November 2017 October 2017 September 2017 August 2017 July 2017 June 2017 May 2017 April 2017 March 2017 February 2017 January 2017 December 2016 November 2016 October 2016 September 2016 August 2016 July 2016 June 2016 May 2016 April 2016 March 2016 February 2016 January 2016 December 2015 November 2015 October 2015 September 2015 August 2015 July 2015 June 2015 May 2015 April 2015 March 2015 February 2015 January 2015 December 2014 November 2014 October 2014 September 2014 August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008