As you already know, I was a panelist on today’s CNN bloggers’ roundtable. The subject was Pres. Obama’s speech on national security, a speech which raises more questions than it answers.
There are a number of interesting items in the speech:
First, the Obama administration had previously changed the term “war on terror” to “overseas contingency operations”. In today’s speech Obama asserted that
- “We are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
- “We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates.”
- “Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States,and those that we capture — like other prisoners of war — must be prevented from attacking us again.”
- “And I do know with certainty that we can defeat al Qaeda.”
So, does this mean the “war on terror” should be called “the war on al Qaeda”?
And the specific statement, “like other prisoners of war”, raises the issue whether the Obama administration is considering changing the detainees’ status to that of POWs.
Obama categorically asserts that that enhanced interrogation techniques
“did not advance our war and counterterrorism efforts– they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.”
A statement that is also accompanied with his apparent eagerness for
“declassifying more information and embracing more oversight of our actions, and we’re narrowing our use of the state secrets privilege”
Yet at the same time, the Obama administration will not declassify or release any CIA memos explaining the effectiveness of the very interrogation techniques that Obama categorically asserts are totally ineffective.
Another interesting point came up when Obama talked about five categories of Guantanamo detainees; specifically talking about prosecuting terrorists who have violated American criminal laws in federal courts. What is particularly interesting is that both terrorists he named, Ramzi Yousef and Zacarias Moussaoui, were never in Guantanamo: Youself was captured in Pakistan and sent to New York, and Mussaoui was captured in Minnesota.
Closing Gitmo? Where’s the plan?
Supermax prisons taking Gitmo detainees? Which ones?
“New legal regime to detain terrorists”? Where’s the plan?
While Obama predictably managed to work in as much blame on “the prior eight years” as possible, my question is, does that mean he is saying that his own party, which has controlled Congress for the past two years, is derelict?
And one final touch of irony,
From the text of the speech, it appears that the President prefers to believe that Gitmo, enhanced interrogations and the such are what makes the terrorists hate us. Gitmo didn’t exist on September 11, 2001. Terrorists, including al Qaeda, are motivated by an ideology that despises everything we believe in: women’s rights, the rule of law, freedom of speech, religion and sexual orientation, and Israel’s right to exist – anti-Semitism being one of the motives of the four homegrown jihadists arrested in New York this morning.
Obama says that fearmongering is good for “30-second commercials”, on the same day that the FBI thwarted a terrorist attack.