Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Obama's listless approach to terrorism

Michael Gerson's opinion piece in the Washington Post today has created something of a stir over at  There's probably little to add to the robust Ldotter comment thread there, but this article is important and a must read for Americans who care about our national security.  From the article:
A president can't be held responsible for every mistake at every level of government. But every level of government takes its cues from the president and his main advisers. And it is difficult to argue that the Obama administration has even attempted to create an atmosphere of urgency in the war on terror. The listless, coldblooded and clueless response of the Hawaii White House to the Christmas Day attack was only the most recent indication. Over the last year, nearly every rhetorical signal from the administration -- from the use of war-on-terror euphemisms such as "overseas contingency operations" and "man-caused disasters" to its preference for immediately categorizing terrorism as the work of an "isolated extremist" -- has been designed to convey a return to normalcy, a contrast to the supposed fear-mongering of the past.
And this regarding the decisions of the Justice Department to try the 9/11 mastermind, KSM and underwear bomber Abdulmutallab as criminals:
This civilian prosecution strategy would make sense if the goal is punishment for an attempted mass murderer. But it makes no sense if the goal is vigilance in the war on terrorism -- gaining information to prevent future attacks. Abdulmutallab evidently talked a bit with FBI investigators when first captured. But any defense lawyer -- and now he has one -- will urge him to withhold information for use in bargaining with prosecutors down the road. The reality here is simple and shocking: A terrorist with current knowledge of al-Qaeda operations in Yemen has been told he has the right to remain silent.
As a foreign terrorist, he does not have that right (as even the Obama administration has conceded by its use of military tribunals in other cases). And granting Abdulmutallab that privilege only because he tried to commit murder on American soil is an incentive of disturbing perversity.
Disturbing indeed.  President Bush often said that he would rather take the fight to the terrorists than have them bring it here.  In his quest to appease his apologist base, President Obama may have done just the opposite.

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