Monday, May 11, 2009

Flip Flops

Mona Charen tells us that the Obama administration is reversing itself on many of the national security positions it took during the campaign. Having soundly and frequently rebuked the Bush administration for warrantless surveillance, Guantanamo, denial of trials to detainees, military tribunals, and other assorted crimes against humanity, it looks like Obama is quietly pursuing the same policies, and may even decide to keep Gitmo open for business:

You won't find it on the front pages, but the Obama administration has been walking back its position on many national-security questions. Attorney General Eric Holder has asserted that the U.S. has the right to hold suspected terrorists without charges. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has reiterated that position. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently told Congress that military commissions were "still very much on the table," and rumor has it that the Obama administration will soon formally reverse itself on Guant�namo.

The New York Times reported that "Officials who work on the Guantanamo issue say administration lawyers have become concerned that they would face significant obstacles to trying some terrorism suspects in federal courts. Judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies." No kidding? Not only that, but not a single detainee was read his Miranda rights when he was taken into custody.

Additionally, Congress is balking at letting Guantanamo's inmates anywhere near their hometowns. Sen. Dianne Feinstein even put Alcatraz off limits. "It's a national park and tourist attraction," she explained.

Former senator Rick Santorum, now with the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has been keeping an eye on other national-security flips by the new president. Remember how Obama had lambasted the Bush administration for relying on the "state secrets" privilege? The Obama Justice Department has already invoked the doctrine twice - most recently to defend the National Security Agency's surveillance of communications. The Justice Department explained that "attempting to address the allegations in this case could require the disclosure of intelligence sources and methods that are used in a lawful manner to protect national security. The administration cannot risk the disclosure of information that could cause such exceptional harm . . . " Query to the ACLU: Does that mean the Obama administration is "shredding the Constitution"?

It would be a lot easier to commend the president for bending to reason and choosing to follow the Bush polices were it not for the fact that he has been so contemptuous of those very policies and the people who implemented them. Instead of seeming wise he comes across like a callow teenager who takes shots at his elders on matters he scarcely comprehends and then is startled to learn that the most sensible course is to do the very things he condemned and derided others for doing.

A bigger man would publicly acknowledge his misjudgment and admit that Bush was correct after all.


Suspicious Minds

Uh oh. There's something fishy about that $328,000 photo of Air Force One over New York. Actually there are several things fishy. The folks here are saying that for some reason the White House's story doesn't add up and that the Obama administration isn't being straight up with us about this fiasco. Imagine that.

I don't know whether there's more to this that we aren't being told - after all this is the most transparent administration in history - but I have to say that there are some puzzling questions being raised, some of which had occurred to me but which I never really thought much about (Like why did the photo have to be done when it was and why is it of such amateurish quality?).

Anyway, check it out. It'll satisfy your minimum daily requirement for suspiciousness.