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January 22, 2009

Obama Outlaws Legal Interrogation Methods - Or Does He?

President Obama signed a few 'National Security' Executive Orders around noon today, apparently designed to increase the rights of illegal combatants - terrorists - that are trying to kill as many of us as possible. They were all remarkable, but perhaps the most troubling is the order on interrogation techniques for detainees in the War on Terror.

That particular Executive Order, which has not been posted online yet (2:00PM), proclaims that the only interrogation methods to be used on detainees in the War on Terror are those found in the Army Field Manual (pdf file - not sure if available in Arabic...yet). As media reports are already starting to show, that's a bit problematic:

The executive order says everyone in custody should be questioned under the Army Field Manual, which is intended for honorable combatants, meaning POWs in a military conflict. The rule would prevent trained interrogators at the CIA from using lawful interrogation techniques against terrorists who have been trained to withstand Army Field Manual techniques.

So by this particular order, Obama is not outlawing so-called torture of detainees, but preventing the use by our national security apparatus of certain legal interrogation techniques that have kept us safe for the past 7+ years.

But as with anything emanating from first Obama the candidate and now Obama the President, that's not the whole story. In fact, in many ways this Executive Order can be seen as an empty sop to the Left that got him elected. Why do I say that? Because in the same media report, there is this tidbit:

According to sources in the law enforcement community, the executive order on interrogation does not declare "enhanced interrogation techniques" to be torture; the order is silent on that.

"This allows for a lot of flexibility, a lot of wiggle room," said one source.

While the administration has insisted on one interrogation standard, one source says they are thinking about assembling a group within the next 60 days to make recommendations on a set of separate techniques for the intelligence community to use.

White House counsel Greg Craig acknowledged late Wednesday that the administration will have to establish a panel to make recommendations to address intelligence community concerns.

As Jim Geraghty of NRO is fond of saying, "All Barack Obama statements come with an expiration date. All of them."

I guess that's going to include Executive Orders...

January 15, 2009

Obama Backtracks on Osama Bin Laden, Agrees With Bush

For years the Democrats have been critical of the Bush Administration for failing to kill or capture Osama bin Laden. In fact, Barack Obama made such criticism one of the central parts of his campaign for President - moreover, he promised both before and after his election that his "number one national security priority" would be to end bin Laden's 'freedom', one way or another (Obama administration to ratchet up hunt for bin Laden):

President-elect Barack Obama wants to renew the U.S. commitment to finding al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, according to his national security advisers.

The Obama team believes the Bush administration has downplayed the importance of catching the FBI's most-wanted terrorist because it has not been able to find him.

"We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority," Obama said during the presidential debate on October 7.

But, as with most (if not all) statements by President-elect Obama, that was apparently a convenient lie to be used to get elected. He now seems to think that what the Bush Administration has done for the past seven years - isolating bin Laden to keep him from serving as little more than a figurehead for his terrorist organization and focusing more on whittling down Al Qaeda's operational capabilities and exterminating its members - was and is the correct approach. From an article in The Times Online, the web site of the London newspaper (Barack Obama: it is no longer essential to kill Osama bin Laden):

Barack Obama suggested last night that removing Osama bin Laden from the battlefield was no longer essential and that America's security goals could be achieved merely by keeping al-Qaeda "on the run".

"My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him," he said. "But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

His comments, in a CBS interview, represent a significant watering down of the "dead or alive" policy pursued by President Bush since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They also appear to contradict Mr Obama's own statements made in the election campaign.

As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."

Yesterday, the President-elect adopted far less aggressive language, saying his "No 1 priority" was to protect America from further attack.

Hmmm. The Bush Administration, as the article says, has always wanted to kill or capture bin Laden. After bin Laden was allowed by the Northern Alliance (with our inadvertent but foreseeable to anyone with a brain acquiescence) to escape Tora Bora, they have been unable to do so, primarily because of where bin Laden fled to. I suppose flattening a few mountain ranges in Pakistan's tribal regions with nuclear weapons would have done it, but that route wasn't taken.

Instead, the Bush Administration has been quite successful in keeping bin Laden and his closest minions in a virtual prison, unable to function in any leadership role with Al Qaeda. That fact, however, didn't stop the Democrats, the left, and Obama himself from literally mocking President Bush for not 'getting' bin Laden.

Now, however, Bush's position is going to be Obama's.

Where's the "change"? Where's the "outrage"?

Where's the media saturation coverage of this flipflop?