In his May speech, President Barack Obama declared, “The record is clear: Rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security.” President Barack Obama’s deadline has come and gone, and Guantanamo is still open. In part this is the result of political opposition from Americans—including many Congressional Democrats—who understandably do not want terrorists in their backyards.
Also, European allies, while rooting for Guantanamo’s closure, have been reluctant to accept more than a handful of detainees who are deemed suitable for release.
The Obama Administration seems to be retreating from goal for the KSM trial in New York, announced in November, to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and four other enemy combatants in civilian court a few blocks from Ground Zero.
The Obama Administration may lean toward the Bush/Cheney antiterror strategy in response to an American public that is unhappy with the lack of confidence in the administration and a perceived degraded national security staff.
Obama is taking criticism for making a farce of the U.S. Justice system by explaining the expected conviction and punishment of KSM with, “I don’t think it will be offensive at all when he’s convicted and when the death penalty is applied to him.” The Obama administration has argued that the reason for the trial in New York over a military tribunal is to show the fairness of the American justice system. Critics can’t help but point out the cognitive disharmony of a president deciding the verdict and punishment ahead of the supposedly fair trial in the U.S. Justice System.
Many Americans find it ridiculous to hold a trial for the purpose of leading an example of America’s democracy and superior justice system to terrorists. Those Americans believe any showcase of American democracy and justice would be hated just the same.
Obama is also taking criticism for his approach to interrogation. In August 2009 Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he had appointed a special prosecutor to investigate allegations of abuse by CIA interrogators. Obama also announced that the interrogation of detainees would be carried out by a new FBI High Value Detainee Interrogation Group (HIG), instead of the CIA.
Critics have also questioned why the HIG wasn’t used to question the underwear bomber. It wasn’t fully operational.
The announcements by Obama and Holder caused a blow to morale in the ranks of the CIA — this coming almost three months after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and CIA Director Leon Panetta embattled over Pelosi saying that the CIA lied to her about waterboarding, and Panetta explaining that the CIA isn’t in the business of lying to Congress.
When the Christmas underwear bomber attempted to blow up a jet plane over Detroit, Holder ordered that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab be classified as a criminal defendant. He was only interrogated for 50 minutes — his right to remain silent honored.
According to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, fifty minutes was plenty of time to interrogate. Gibbs told “Fox News Sunday” viewers last month: “Abdulmutallab was interrogated, and valuable intelligence was gotten as a result of that interrogation.” Eric Holder told Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in a letter last week that Abdulmutallab “more recently . . . has provided additional intelligence to the FBI.” Critics see that as a conflict with the assurance of Robert Gibbs. Critics also point out that intelligence gathered weeks or months later is hardly has valuable as intelligence gained in minutes after the bombing attempt — assuming terrorists back at base camp would cover all their tracks related to information that the underwear bomber could reveal.
Then, of course, there is Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano reporting “the system worked” when in fact the only reason the system worked was because citizens subdued the bomber and put out the fire that the terrorist started. Reports came out that when the plane landed, passengers were not immediately evacuated from the plane, and were even treated rudely while sitting there for over an hour — sitting on a plane that had a bomb and contaminated air after a fire. Pilots were upset nationwide that it took so long to notify other pilots that were in the air nationwide, in case other terrorist may have been deployed. Napolitano praised the system because “within literally an hour to 90 minutes of the incident occurring all 128 flights in the air had been notified to take some special measures in light of what had occurred on the Northwest Airlines flight.” Pilot say 90 minutes is way too long to notify the other planes.
For many American citizens, they agree with the pilots. The discontent of the American people with the Obama Administration over national security issues may direct Obama to a more focused and effective antiterror strategy that looks more like the strategy of Bush/Cheney.
WSJ Cheney’s Revenge: The Obama Administration is vindicating Bush antiterror policy.
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GLOBALCONFLICTMAPS.COM CNN VIDEO of Napolitano: ‘The System Worked’ … TRANSCRIPT: Briefing Aftermath of NWA Flight 253