I guess we can take War on Terror off of the Wizbang category list as Barack Obama has determined that we should no longer aggressively pursue our enemies and has put an end to the War on Terror with his executive orders. He insists of course that counter terrorism efforts will continue, but they sound purely defensive. It sounds like he will respond after we are attacked instead of aggressively preventing an attack. I may be misinterpreting that, but when he halts all efforts to find the terrorists who who are plotting against us before they attack, I'm not sure what else you'd call it. From the Washington Post:
While Obama says he has no plans to diminish counterterrorism operations abroad, the notion that a president can circumvent long-standing U.S. laws simply by declaring war was halted by executive order in the Oval Office.
Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration's lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.
It was a swift and sudden end to an era that was slowly drawing to a close anyway, as public sentiment grew against perceived abuses of government power. The feisty debate over the tactics employed against al-Qaeda began more than six years ago as whispers among confidants with access to the nation's most tightly held secrets. At the time, there was consensus in Congress and among the public that the United States would be attacked again and that government should do what was necessary to thwart the threat.
Am I reading that last sentence correctly? The Congress and the public no longer believe we are going to be attacked so we no longer need to do what is necessary to prevent that attack? If so, there's only reason for that: the success of George Bush's national security program. Has it ever occurred to anyone that we have reached an equilibrium? That maybe the reason people feel so confident that we won't be attacked again is because Bush's policies and programs reached an aggressiveness that equaled the terrorists' aggressiveness so we're at a peaceful standstill? Let's not be Pollyannish here. If we start easing back in our aggressive pursuit of our terrorist enemies, our enemies will not ease back in their aggressive pursuit of us. Instead, al Qaeda will declare that we are a paper tiger once again.
Yes, George Bush's previous policies sound like they came from an episode of 24, but isn't the US government supposed zealously protect its citizens from attack? And if zealous protection is too aggressive, then to what degree of determination is the CIA allowed to pursue our enemies? I'd like to know what the US government's newly redefined obligations are for protecting its citizens. If it's not assuming we're going to be attacked and working to prevent that attack, then what is it? Is it that we assume terrorists aren't plotting to kill us unless we hear chatter that tells us something different? Do publicly released video tapes from al Qaeda's leadership saying that they will destroy us count?
What the Washington Post has just told us is that we've gone right back to treating the War on Terror as just another a criminal justice endeavor, which means we can't do anything unless they do something to us first.
And I wonder how long it will be before we get word that the wall between the CIA and the FBI has been rebuilt.
We know where this kind of national security got us.
Mark Thiessen is a lot more direct in his criticism of Obama's actions:
A week ago, former Vice President Cheney advised the incoming president to take some time and look carefully at the policies and institutions the Bush administration had put in place to protect the country before following through on campaign pledges to dismantle them. President-elect Obama said on ABC's This Week: "I think that was pretty good advice, which is I should know what's going on before we make judgments and that we shouldn't be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric."
Less than 48 hours after taking office, Obama has begun dismantling those institutions without time for any such review. The CIA program he is effectively shutting down is the reason why America has not been attacked again after 9/11. He has removed the tool that is singularly responsible for stopping al-Qaeda from flying planes into the Library Tower in Los Angeles, Heathrow Airport, and London's Canary Warf, and blowing up apartment buildings in Chicago, among other plots. It's not even the end of inauguration week, and Obama is already proving to be the most dangerous man ever to occupy the Oval Office.
And to think I actually believed Obama wouldn't do anything rash regarding national security and our safety after hearing how positive he was about Cheney giving him advice to take time and review everything. I'm not doing that again.
Update: Jules Crittenden offers his take on Obama's pull back from the War on Terror: GWOT Over! Long Live Jihad! Oh, and Jules also informs us that al Qaeda in Germany has announced that they've got an atom bomb:
German Al-Qaeda Operative Discusses Al-Qaeda's 'Atom Bomb', Says 'Our Striking Power in This New Crusader War is Reflected in the Mujahideen's Participation in the New Arms Race,' And Warns Germans to Make the Right Choice in September 2009 Elections
Does anyone here actually think that the West's national security response will go beyond hope they're bluffing? With George Bush no longer pushing the West to grow a pair, I suspect Germany will cave.