President Obama spoke at National Defense University yesterday. It was to be ostensibly a watershed speech regarding counter-terrorism, drone policy, and closing GITMO. The speech sounded more like a somewhat muddled pseudo-campaign speech, as if Obama is running for re-election in 2016. Though I am at NDU, I was not able to obtain a ticket. (Which begs the question of how Code Pink managed to get in.)
What the President’s speech was, in actuality, was disingenuous in the extreme. Obama made a number of assertions that, absent the tidal wave of serious scandal since the Benghazi attacks, might have been greeted with justifiable skepticism. When one does conjure the facts and events of the myriad scandals, Benghazi, the IRS, the Justice Department’s seizing of reporters’ phone records, Kathleen Sibelius extorting money from private businesses, the lack of forthrightness of the Attorney General regarding drone strikes and targeted killing of American citizens (not to mention Fast and Furious or the New Black Panthers), we find a seemingly endless procession of high-level cover-ups, lying, stonewalling, misrepresentation, abuse of power, illegal and unconstitutional conduct on the part of elected and appointed officials, the infringement on civil rights, implausible explanations and denials, and an arrogance of attitude and behavior that is worse than any had predicted.
The President’s words were noteworthy only for their hollow ring. Not least of which was the promise of criminal trials for the illegal combatants imprisoned at Guantanamo in which those terrorists will be awarded all the rights and privileges of an American citizen being tried for a capital offense. Even as his Administration admits that no such rights and privileges were given to American citizens targeted for death.
But there is more. Assertions Obama made that are not merely a matter of assertion or opinion.
Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs. Our focus must be on those who break the law… I have raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concern.
He does? From NBC News just yesterday:
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counter-terrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
But when a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America – and is actively plotting to kill U.S. citizens; and when neither the United States, nor our partners are in a position to capture him before he carries out a plot – his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a swat team…
There seems quite a wide chasm between the example the President gave, and the Administration’s definition of “imminence”.
The condition that an operational leader present an ‘imminent’ threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.
Then there are those pesky and troublesome words of Article III, Section 3 of the Constitution:
No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
As President Obama talked about Guantanamo Bay, he appealed to America’s sense of justice:
But history will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it. Imagine a future – ten years from now, or twenty years from now – when the United States of America is still holding people who have been charged with no crime…
Huh. In contravention of the Sixth Amendment, American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was also “charged with no crime”. No charge, no counsel, no grand jury, no arraignment, no trial, and no conviction. And he ain’t lucky enough to be at GTMO. He won’t be twenty years from now, either.
And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee.
Precisely what Attorney General Eric Holder sought successfully to deny American citizens, replacing such judicial participation with this, instead:
[A]n informed, high-level official of the U.S. government has determined that the targeted individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States;
The version of reality which was articulated yesterday by President Obama for the consumption of the American people stands in stark and fundamental contrast to the words and deeds of himself and his appointed officials in his imperious, overbearing, scandal-ridden Administration. Obama’s lack of intellectual honesty provides no single reason that trust should be placed in his competence or his judgment regarding the matters of topic in his NDU speech. His inability or unwillingness to simply tell the truth without the prevarication and euphemism reminiscent of Orwellian dystopia is a hallmark of his White House tenancy.
In the internet age, the Memory Hole ain’t what it used to be.