Obama Is Said to Consider Preventive Detention Plan (Flush the Constitution!)

Obama Is Said to Consider Preventive Detention Plan (Flush the Constitution!)
NY Slimes (Page A18!!!) ^ | 5/21/2009 | SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

Posted on Thursday, May 21, 2009 8:05:48 AM by markomalley

WASHINGTON — President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a “preventive detention” system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said.

The discussion, in a 90-minute meeting in the Cabinet Room that included Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. and other top administration officials, came on the eve of a much-anticipated speech Mr. Obama is to give Thursday on a number of thorny national security matters, including his promise to close the detention center at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Human rights advocates are growing deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama’s stance on these issues, especially his recent move to block the release of photographs showing abuse of detainees, and his announcement that he is willing to try terrorism suspects in military commissions — a concept he criticized bitterly as a presidential candidate.

(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com …

President Above-It-All

President Above-It-All
There Obama stands, bravely holding his flanks against straw men on all sides.

By Rich Lowry

EDITOR’S NOTE: This column is available exclusively through King Features Syndicate. For permission to reprint or excerpt this copyrighted material, please contact: kfsreprint@hearstsc.com, or phone 800-708-7311, ext 246.

Put Barack Obama in front of a teleprompter and one thing is certain — he’ll make himself appear the most reasonable person in the room.

Rhetorically, he is in the middle of any debate, perpetually surrounded by finger-pointing extremists who can’t get over their reflexive combativeness and ideological fixations to acknowledge his surpassing thoughtfulness and grace.

This is how Obama, whose position on abortion is indistinguishable from NARAL’s, can speechify on abortion at Notre Dame and come away sounding like a pitch-perfect centrist. It’s natural, then, that his speech at the National Archives on national security should superficially sound soothing, reasonable, and even a little put-upon (oh, what President Obama has to endure from all those finger-pointing extremists).

But beneath its surface, the speech — given heavy play in the press as an implicit debate with former Vice President Dick Cheney, who spoke on the same topic at a different venue immediately afterward — revealed something else: a president who has great difficulty admitting error, who can’t discuss the position of his opponents without resorting to rank caricature, and who adopts an off-putting pose of above-it-all self-righteousness.

Obama has reversed himself since becoming president on detaining terrorists indefinitely and on trying them before military commissions. Once upon a time, these policies were blots on our honor; now they are simple necessities. Between the primary and the general election, candidate Obama changed his mind and embraced Pres. George W. Bush’s terrorist-surveillance program. In recent weeks, he countermanded his own Justice Department’s decision not to contest a court decision that would have led to the release of photos of detainee abuse.

A less self-consciously grandiose figure might feel the need to reflect on the fact that his simplistic prior positions had not fully taken account of the difficulties inherent in fighting the War on Terror. Not Obama. On the commissions, he explicitly denied changing his view, instead trumpeting cosmetic changes he’s proposed as major reforms that will bring them in line “with the rule of law.”

For all his championing of nuance, Obama comes back to one source for every dilemma: Bush, as though without his predecessor every question about how a nation of laws protects itself from a lawless enemy would be easy. Under Bush, according to Obama, we set our “principles aside as luxuries we could no longer afford.” Even now, there are those — are you listening, Mr. Former V.P.? — “who think that America’s safety and success require us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building.” What a shoddy smear.

Consider Obama’s breaks with Bush: We have stopped using enhanced interrogation techniques for now, but Obama reserves the right to use them again; we will have military commissions but with four procedural changes; we’re going to close Gitmo but find some equivalent detention facility for that category of detainees who, Obama says, are dangerous but can’t be tried or released. These are matters of degree and therefore questions of prudence, not principle. If Bush violated our fundamental beliefs, then Obama is violating them, too, only a little less so.

Excoriating Bush is good politics for Obama, which is what makes his repeated exhortations to look ahead so disingenuous. In his speech, he rued that “we have a return of the politicization of these issues.” In other words: Dick Cheney, please shut up. But when did the politicization of these issues end? Has the Left ever stopped braying about Bush’s war crimes?

Obama bracingly politicized these very issues on the stump, staking out unsustainably purist positions because they suited his momentary political interest. Now that’s he’s president, he wants the debate to end. He’s above the grubbily disputatious culture of partisans and journalists. And he’s above contradiction because, as ever, he occupies the middle ground, one “obscured by two opposite and absolutist” sides: those who recognize no terrorist threat and those who recognize no limits to executive power.

And there Obama stands, bravely holding his flanks against straw men on all sides.

— Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. © 2009 by King Features Syndicate

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National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MDZmY2Q1OTYxMmQwNWI0ZjJiNmQyYjU4ZjkxMTdlNmU=

The Alinsky Administration

The Alinsky Administration
Today, reading Rules for Radicals is illuminating and worrisome.

By Jim Geraghty

Barack Obama never met Saul Alinsky, but the radical organizer’s thought helps explain a great deal about how the president operates.

Alinsky died in 1972, when Obama was 11 years old. But three of Obama’s mentors from his Chicago days studied at a school Alinsky founded, and they taught their students the philosophy and methods of one of the first “community organizers.” Ryan Lizza wrote a 6,500-word piece on Alinsky’s influence on Obama for The New Republic, noting, “On his campaign website, one can find a photo of Obama in a classroom teaching students Alinskian methods. He stands in front of a blackboard on which he has written ‘Relationships Built on Self Interest,’ an idea illustrated by a diagram of the flow of money from corporations to the mayor.”

In a letter to the Boston Globe, Alinsky’s son wrote that “the Democratic National Convention had all the elements of the perfectly organized event, Saul Alinsky style. . . . Barack Obama’s training in Chicago by the great community organizers is showing its effectiveness. It is an amazingly powerful format, and the method of my late father always works to get the message out and get the supporters on board. When executed meticulously and thoughtfully, it is a powerful strategy for initiating change and making it really happen. Obama learned his lesson well.”

As a tool for understanding the thinking of Obama, Alinsky’s most famous book, Rules for Radicals, is simultaneously edifying and worrisome. Some passages make Machiavelli’s Prince read like a Sesame Street picture book on manners.

After Obama took office, the pundit class found itself debating the ideology and sensibility of the new president — an indication of how scarcely the media had bothered to examine him beforehand. But after 100 days, few observers can say that Obama hasn’t surprised them with at least one call. Gays wonder why Obama won’t take a stand on gay marriage when state legislatures will. Union bosses wonder what happened to the man who sounded more protectionist than Hillary Clinton in the primary. Some liberals have been stunned by the serial about-faces on extraordinary rendition, indefinite detention without trial, military-tribunal trials, the state-secrets doctrine, and other policies they associate with the Bush administration. Former supporters of Obama, including David Brooks, Christopher Buckley, Jim Cramer, and Warren Buffett, have expressed varying degrees of criticism of his early moves, surprised that he is more hostile to the free market than they had thought.

Obama’s defenders would no doubt insist this is a reflection of his pragmatism, his willingness to eschew ideology to focus on what solutions work best. This view assumes that nominating Bill Richardson as commerce secretary, running up a $1.8 trillion deficit, approving the AIG bonuses, signing 9,000 earmarks into law, adopting Senator McCain’s idea of taxing health benefits, and giving U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown 25 DVDs that don’t work in Britain constitute “what works best.” Obama is a pragmatist, but a pragmatist as understood by Alinsky: One who applies pragmatism to achieving and keeping power.

One of Alinsky’s first lessons is: “Radicals must have a degree of control over the flow of events.” Setting aside the Right’s habitual complaint about the pliant liberal media, Obama has dominated the news by unveiling a new initiative or giving a major speech on almost every weekday of his presidency. There has been a steady stream of lighter stories as well — the puppy, Michelle Obama’s fashion sense, the White House swing set, the president and vice president’s burger lunch.

The constant parade of events large and small ensures that whenever unpleasant news arises and overtakes the desired message — think of Tom Daschle’s withdrawal, the Air Force One photo op, or North Korea’s missile launch — it leads the news for only a day. For contrast, consider what happened when the photos of the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse appeared: As American Journalism Review reports, they “dominated the headlines for a month. Day after day, top national newspapers brought to light new aspects of the debacle on their front pages.”

When Obama announced a paltry $100 million in budget cuts, and insisted this was part of a budget-trimming process that would add up to “real money,” he clearly understood that the public processes these numbers very differently from the way budget wonks do. Alinsky wrote: “The moment one gets into the area of $25 million and above, let alone a billion, the listener is completely out of touch, no longer really interested, because the figures have gone above his experience and almost are meaningless. Millions of Americans do not know how many million dollars make up a billion.”

Obama insists that he doesn’t want the government to run car companies, but he has fired CEOs, demonized bondholders, ensured the UAW gets the sweetest deal, and guaranteed warrantees. He insists that he doesn’t want to run banks, but his Treasury Department hesitates to take back some of the TARP funds that give them influence over bank policies. He’s critical of Wall Street, but he signed off on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s remarkably generous plan to give hedge funds and private investors a low-risk, high-reward option on toxic assets.

Much of this is explained by Alinsky’s epigram, “In the politics of human life, consistency is not a virtue.”

During the campaign, Obama’s critics laughed and marveled at how quickly the candidate threw inconvenient friends, allies, and supporters under the bus once they became political liabilities. Over on the Campaign Spot, it’s been easy to compile a list of quickly forgotten promises. But it is unlikely that Obama would consider any of this a character flaw; instead, it is evidence of his adaptability and gift for seeing the big picture.

Alinsky sneered at those who would accept defeat rather than break their principles: “It’s true I might have trouble getting to sleep because it takes time to tuck those big, angelic, moral wings under the covers.” He assured his students that no one would remember their flip-flops, scoffing, “The judgment of history leans heavily on the outcome of success or failure; it spells the difference between the traitor and the patriotic hero. There can be no such thing as a successful traitor, for if one succeeds he becomes a founding father.” If you win, no one really cares how you did it.

Lizza’s profile offered an example of how Obama isn’t quite as cynical as Alinsky’s power-at-all-costs mentality would suggest:

Moreover, when Obama’s ideals clash with reality, he has been able to find compromises that don’t put him at a political disadvantage. For instance, no Democrat can win the general election while adhering to the public financing system if the Republican nominee doesn’t do the same. Clinton and John Edwards have simply conceded that the public financing system is dead and are ignoring fund-raising restrictions that would be triggered if either ends up playing within the public financing scheme. Facing the same situation, Obama — a longtime champion of campaign finance reform in general and public financing in particular — asked the Federal Election Commission if he could raise the potentially restricted money now (the world as it is) but then give it back if he wins the nomination and convinces his Republican opponent to stick with public financing (the world as we would like it to be).

But Obama quickly ignored that pledge when Senator McCain indicated he was willing to restrict himself to the public-financing system. Obama audaciously claimed that his donors had created a “parallel public-financing system” and announced his changed position at a fundraising dinner.

Moderates thought they were electing a moderate; liberals thought they were electing a liberal. Both camps were wrong. Ideology does not have the final say in Obama’s decision-making; an Alinskyite’s core principle is to take any action that expands his power and to avoid any action that risks his power.

As conservatives size up their new foe, they ought to remember: It’s not about liberalism. It’s about power. Obama will jettison anything that costs him power, and do anything that enhances it — including invite Rick Warren to give the benediction at his inauguration, dine with conservative columnists, and dismiss an appointee at the White House Military Office to ensure the perception of accountability.

Alinsky’s influence goes well beyond Obama, obviously. There are many wonderful Democrats in this world, but evidence suggests that rising in that party’s political hierarchy requires some adoption of a variation of the Alinsky philosophy: Power comes first. Few Democrats are expressing outrage over Nancy Pelosi’s ever-shifting explanation of what she knew about waterboarding. Those who screamed bloody murder about Jack Abramoff’s crimes avert their eyes from John Murtha. The anti-war movement that opposed the surge in Iraq remains silent about sending additional troops to Afghanistan. Obama will never get as much grief for his gay-marriage views as Miss California.

It’s not about the policies or the politics, and it’s certainly not about the principles. It’s about power, and it has been for a long time.

— Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot for NRO.

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National Review Online – http://article.nationalreview.com/?q=MTY5ZTA5NmEwMGY4MTFhNDg2ZDg4NjU2MDkxOGYyYTE=

Cheney Lands 10 Solid Punches to Obama’s Jaw

Telegraph:Cheney Lands 10 Solid Punches to Obama’s Jaw
Clarice Feldman

Conceding that pugilistic terms best suit the comparison of the Cheney and Obama dueling speeches on defense, Toby Harnden of the Telegraph reports that former Vice President Cheney landed 10 solid punches on Obama’s jaw:

Cheney’s speech wasn’t stylish, there were no rhetorical flourishes and the tone was bitingly sarcastic and disdainful at times. But it was effective in many respects and Cheney showed that Obama is not invulnerable. Here are 10 of the punches he landed on the President’s jaw:

1. “I’ve heard occasional speculation that I’m a different man after 9/11. I wouldn’t say that, but I’ll freely admit that watching a coordinated, devastating attack on our country from an underground bunker at the White House can affect how you view your responsibilities.”

Anyone who was in New York or Washington on 9/11 (I was here in DC) was profoundly affected and most Americans understand this. Obama was, as far as I can tell, in Chicago. His response – he was then a mere state senator for liberal Hyde Park – was startlingly hand-wringing and out of step with how most Americans were felling. This statement by Cheney reminds people of the tough decisions he and Bush had to make – ones that Obama has not yet faced.
It is something to read a major press piece by someone not beset by Obama fever.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/telegraphcheney_land_10_solid.html at May 22, 2009 – 10:27:57 AM EDT

Environmentalist Economic Strangulation

Environmentalist Economic Strangulation
By: Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, May 22, 2009

The Green Left must be thrilled with the new Obama/Pelosi/Reid (OPR) troika in charge of the federal government. Three times already, the troika has blocked the development of domestic oil resources.

During his first week in office, President Obama rescinded his predecessor’s executive order permitting drilling on the continental shelf and in the Green River Formation. Both areas contain abundant oil—especially Green River (under Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah), which has recoverable shale-oil reserves three times the oil reserves of Saudi Arabia.

Several weeks later, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar unilaterally canceled 77 oil and gas leases in Utah, on the grounds that (I kid you not) someone might catch a glimpse of temporary drilling equipment from the national park that sits more than a mile away.

Next, on March 25, the House of Representatives passed the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 (S. 22) which, among many other things, adds two million more acres to the 107 million acres of protected wilderness already owned by the federal government. (In all, Uncle Sam owns 607 million acres of land.) The main purpose of this law is to prevent the exploration and extraction of oil and gas from these lands, which are estimated to have 300 million barrels of oil and 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas under them.

In addition to increasing American dependence on foreign oil by thwarting such domestic development, the OPR/green alliance desires the imposition of expensive cap-and-trade rules to discourage utilities from using coal, which currently provides nearly half of America’s electricity. As Obama candidly explained to the San Francisco Chronicle during his presidential campaign, “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can [but cap-and-trade] will bankrupt them because they’re going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.”

Of course, this anti-fossil fuel agenda is nothing new for green Democrats. This group has long resisted drilling in a tiny sliver of the remote, desolate Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. And even the relatively moderate Clinton administration, after designating natural gas as its environmentally responsible fossil fuel of choice, conferred wilderness designation on the western lands that contained some of the richest targets for natural-gas exploration.

The super-green Obama administration plans to replace fossil fuels with alternative fuels. The last time we went down this road, President Carter managed to blow several billion dollars on failed attempts to produce economically viable synthetic fuels (remember “Synfuels?”) and foisted the ongoing ethanol boondoggle on us. Corn-based ethanol, even 30 years later, still requires massive government subsidies, is useless for achieving energy independence. It consumes nearly as much, and perhaps more, energy to produce it than it yields in our fuel tanks. It is also the least environmentally friendly fuel we use, increasing emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that cause smog, using up precious water supplies, and requiring the tilling of millions of acres of wildlife habitat.

Ah, but the good news is that the current generation of green leaders will take us to the fabled land of wind and solar energy. Apart from the daunting economics—it is likely that these energy sources will still require government subsidies several decades hence, as ethanol does today. Think of the environmental impact of these allegedly superior energy sources:

Solar energy requires vast territories for solar cells—as many as 46,000 square miles would have to be covered by solar panels. One logical place for a “solar energy farm” would be the wide-open, sunshine-rich, sparsely populated Mojave Desert. However, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) already has nixed that possibility in the name of wilderness protection. As a frustrated Gov. Schwarzenegger lamented, if you can’t put solar panels in the Mojave Desert, then where can you put them?

Wind energy also runs into the NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) syndrome. Besides the legitimate environmental concern about the way windmills slice up birds and create low-pressure zones that explode the lungs of bats, environmentalists have started to block transmission networks that would tie the energy generated by windmills to the power grid. This reminds me of the congressman who voted for funding of a ship-borne weapon because the weapon is manufactured in his district, but then voted against funding the construction of the only ships that use that particular weapon in order to appeal to antiwar voters.

This green agenda is more than absurd, it is sinister. The real goal of greens is not “clean energy” but less energy. Energy is essential to economic progress, and many greens want to halt and reverse economic progress. Some radical greens have praised Fidel Castro for de-developing Cuba. Al Gore wrote in his book Earth in the Balance that U.S. policy should aim for slower economic growth. President Obama’s chief science advisor John Holdren’s top two environmental goals are to shrink the human population and to slow economic growth.

So here we are, in the midst of a severe economic crisis, and the ruling party is pursuing an anti-energy agenda that would further cripple economic activity. They seem oblivious to the fact that poverty is the most lethal environment for human beings. (Life expectancy in the United States declined during the Great Depression.) What a grim price we will pay for the green agenda.

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Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson is a faculty member, economist, and contributing scholar with the Center for Vision and Values at Grove City College.

Selling Insecurity

Selling Insecurity
By: Jacob Laksin
Friday, May 22, 2009

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President Obama’s case for closing Gitmo remains as unconvincing as ever.
President Obama could not have picked a worse week to take a stand in defense of his pledge to close Guantanamo Bay prison.

On Wednesday, Senate Democrats led the way in overwhelmingly rejecting, by a vote of 90 to 6, the administration’s request for $80 million to relocate the Guantanamo detainees, a decision that replicates an earlier rebuff by the House last week and makes it increasingly unlikely that Guantanamo will be closed by Obama’s much-hyped January 2010 deadline.

Later that afternoon, FBI director Robert Mueller threw another spammer in the works when he warned that transporting Gitmo’s denizens to U.S. prisons could enable them to radicalize America’s prison population, as well as plot and carry out terrorist attacks.

Then, on Thursday, news broke of a still-unreleased Pentagon report finding that of the 534 detainees originally held at Gitmo, one in seven returned to terrorism upon their release.

In short, it was an unpropitious time to make the case that Guantanamo Bay was endangering American security; that it was undermining the U.S.-led war against Islamic terrorism; and that its closure was of the utmost importance.

Yet that is precisely what Obama did yesterday morning, as he delivered what was billed as a national security address but what was in reality a not-so-thinly veiled attack on the Bush administration’s counter-terrorism policies and a labored attempt to justify a move that few – including few Democrats in Congress – actually support.

In keeping with the administration’s weakness for well-scripted symbolism, Obama spoke at the National Archives in the nation’s capitol. Presumably, this home of the U.S. Constitution was intended to send the message that closing Gitmo was not only strategically wise but also consistent with the country’s founding documents.

If so, the point was lost in a speech that failed to compensate in soaring rhetoric for what it lacked in basic coherence. And it didn’t help the president’s case that he was competing for coverage with former vice president Cheney, whose own speech at the American Enterprise Institute – a rousing, impressively unapologetic defense of the Bush administration’s record in keeping the country safe – threatened to overshadow his president’s.

Substantively, the president’s speech was a confused jumble. In no small part, this was because the Obama administration has quietly adopted many of the Bush-era policies that the president feels called upon to condemn.

For instance, the president criticized the Bush administration’s detention regime and stressed that federal courts were adequate to the task of prosecuting terrorist suspects. In a curious transition, Obama then endorsed the previous administration’s position repudiating U.S. courts in favor of Military Commissions, which he explained are an “appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war.”

It bears noting that during the presidential campaign Obama railed against what he called “a flawed military commission system.” Since taking office, however, his administration has followed this system with only the most cosmetic of changes. Lest anyone wonder, the president assured that this did not constitute a “reversal” on his part. That settles that.

On the controversial matter of transporting Gitmo detainees to U.S. prisons, Obama was only slightly more consistent. While he pointed to high-security “supermax” federal prisons as a suitable alternative, Obama largely dodged the pressing question of which prisons, and which states, would receive the detainees.

The omission was not exactly surprising. Bringing Gitmo’s terrorists to the U.S. remains widely unpopular among both Republicans and Democrats, few of whom are prepared to incur the political risk of actually accepting the inmates. As Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid succinctly put it, “We don’t want them around.” Against this political backdrop, the president’s refusal to offer any specifics about the transfer policy he proposes must be seen as an abdication of responsibility.

He stumbled yet again in his discussion of detention policies. On the one hand, Obama denounced the indefinite detention of terrorist suspects under the Bush administration, stating that “detention policies cannot be unbounded.” At the same time, he made sure to add that that he was “not going to release individuals who endanger the American people.” So, which was it?

The latter was closer to the Bush administration’s approach and, though one wouldn’t know it from yesterday’s remarks, it is Obama’s as well. For all its recrimination and finger pointing, the Obama administration has claimed the right to detain indefinitely al-Qaeda and Taliban captives, including those who have not been charged with a war crime (a position upheld by a federal court this week.) That leaves open the interpretation that yesterday’s speech was a cynical ploy to follow the Bush administration’s course on detainee policy while taking credit for a supposed break with the past.

Obama was more forthright – if not more convincing – in his assessment of Guantanamo’s impact on the larger war on terror. “The record is clear,” the president said, “rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security.”

Even from Obama’s own remarks, though, this was anything but clear. The president noted, for instance, that Guantanamo is home to terrorists who remain a threat to the United States, including “people who have received extensive explosives training at al-Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.”

That echoes earlier findings by the Combating Terrorism Center at West Point that 73 percent of Gitmo detainees are a “demonstrated threat” to Americans, while 95 percent were at the least a “potential threat.” Since Guantanamo is the reason that these detainees have not been able to carry out additional terrorist attacks, it defies common sense to claim that the prison has “weakened” national security.

Beyond shoddy logic, Obama’s speech also had serious practical flaws. Obama pointed out that his “review team” has approved 50 detainees to be transferred from Guantanamo. What he could not say is where these detainees would be transferred, alluding vaguely to “discussions with a number of other countries.”

That was no coincidence. European countries have been unwilling to take in detainees, even if it means an expedited end to the detention center they have denounced as an affront to human rights. Britain and France, for example, have agreed to accept just one prisoner each. As Cheney observed in his AEI speech, Obama may have won “applause in Europe for closing Guantanamo,” but “the United States has had little luck getting other countries to take hardened terrorists. So what happens then?”

What indeed. Sending the detainees back to their countries of origin is no solution. Of the 240 prisoners who remain at Guantanamo, nearly 100 are from Yemen, whose policy of dealing with detainees through “rehabilitation” programs, paired with its popularity as a destination for ex-Guantánamo inmates eager to rejoin terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, makes it a singularly poor choice to accept the detainees. It’s no wonder that the most effective point made by Cheney yesterday concerned the difficulty of the choices facing the government as it works to prevent another terrorist attack on American soil.

While the president’s rhetoric often suggests otherwise, that reality may be dawning on the Obama administration. In this connection, perhaps the best that can be said of the president’s address is that his actions don’t match his words. As Harvard law professor and former Bush official Jack Goldsmith observed in the New Republic this week, on a host of national security issues – from military detention, military commissions, and targeted killings, to habeas corpus rights, rendition and surveillance programs – the Obama administration’s policies are largely indistinguishable from the policies in the later years of the Bush administration. “The main difference between the Obama and Bush administrations concerns not the substance of terrorism policy, but rather its packaging,” Goldsmith wrote.

The Guantanamo debate is a case in point. Yesterday’s dueling speeches were a clash of styles more than substance. True, Obama continues to attack the Bush administration’s record on national security, often unfairly. But if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, President Obama has paid his predecessors the ultimate compliment.

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Jacob Laksin is a senior editor for FrontPage Magazine. His e-mail is jlaksin [@] gmail.com.

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