President Obama has an eerie and alarming ability to detach himself from his own dubious actions.
This character trait was on full display in his speech on Thursday at the National Defense University.
When he talked about the need to shut down Guantanamo, he said: “Look at the current situation, where we are force-feeding detainees who are holding a hunger strike. Is that something that our Founders foresaw? Is that the America we want to leave to our children?”
Wise words, but hollow ones.
Hollow, because he could have closed Guantanamo on day one in his first term, as he promised.
Hollow, because even today he could be releasing those prisoners himself, rather than overseeing their force-feeding.
As the great constitutional scholar David Cole notes in the New York Review of Books, “Current law permits the executive branch to waive some of the requirements when the transfer ‘is in the national security interests of the United States.’ Moreover, eighty-six detainees have been ‘cleared for release’ but remain in detention. Fifty-six of them are Yemeni citizens, and it was President Obama, not Congress, who placed their release on hold.”
Similarly, Obama tried to detach himself from his own Justice Department’s grabbing of the phone records of more than 100 AP reporters and the claim by the Justice Department that Fox News’s James Rosen was a “co-conspirator” in violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
“I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds governments accountable,” Obama said.
Then fire Eric Holder, for God’s sake.
But Obama really doesn’t want to do that. Nor does he want to step back from the harsh assault on whistleblowers that he’s had Holder wage, again using the Espionage Act. Obama admitted in his speech that he believes it is necessary “to enforce consequences for those who break the law and breach their commitment to protect classified information.”
Most slippery was Obama on the subject of killing U.S. citizens.
“For the record,” he said, “I do not believe it would be constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen—with a drone, or a shotgun—without due process.”
But then he justified the assassination of Anwar Al-Awlaki, without acknowledging that Al-Awlaki received no due process.
Even more shabbily, he neglected to even mention by name the three other American citizens his administration has rubbed out.
Samir Khan, a young editor of a magazine allegedly affiliated with Al Qaeda, was killed by the same drone that struck down Al-Awlaki
A few weeks after they got al-Awlaki and Khan, they bumped off Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old American-born son, Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki. Obama’s former press secretary, said Abdulrahman should have had “a far more responsible father.”
And now it comes out that they also bumped off Jude Kenan Mohammed, a 23-year-old American citizen who had been radicalized and who had gone to Pakistan.
The Obama Administration doesn’t want to admit that they intentionally killed any U.S. citizen other than Anwar Al-Awlaki because by their own standards, they’re only supposed to kill Al Qaeda members who pose an “imminent” threat.
Now I don’t care how much exercise President Obama wants to get by backpedaling on this issue, the facts remain that he has acted like Tony Soprano in the Oval Office…
You are what you do. Words are just words.