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Obama Folds On Detainee Policy, Cheney Closes Out Debate

The Left is coming unglued as the reality of national security responsibilities continues to assault the vapid campaign rhetoric of Candidate Obama.

President Obama told human rights advocates at the White House on Wednesday that he was mulling the need for a "preventive detention" system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried, two participants in the private session said.

... Human rights advocates are growing deeply uneasy with Mr. Obama's stance on these issues, especially his recent move to block the release of photographs showing abuse of detainees, and his announcement that he is willing to try terrorism suspects in military commissions -- a concept he criticized bitterly as a presidential candidate.

They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about "the long game" -- how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents. [Translation: The 'long game" is defined as that length of time necessary to get President Obama reelected]

"He was almost ruminating over the need for statutory change to the laws so that we can deal with individuals who we can't charge and detain," one participant said. "We've known this is on the horizon for many years, but we were able to hold it off with George Bush. The idea that we might find ourselves fighting with the Obama administration over these powers is really stunning." [Translation: I want a divorce]

As Lori noted, former VP Cheney has bettered Obama on this debate. Think not? Then look at the evidence of what President Obama actually does, not what he says. He has embraced Bush policy on detainees and the ancillary issues.

The EIT and Guantánamo Bay debate is over. Its demise began on the president's second day in office when he announced the closure of Guantánamo Bay without any plan to replace it. The figurative nails were driven in this policy coffin when President Obama released the EIT memos and Americans instinctively saw that act as reckless and not in the country's national security interests, a point Cheney has been making for weeks. Bill Kristol summed it up thus:

Obama's is the speech of a young senator who was once a part-time law professor--platitudinous and preachy, vague and pseudo-thoughtful in an abstract kind of way. This sentence was revealing: "On the other hand, I recently opposed the release of certain photographs that were taken of detainees by U.S. personnel between 2002 and 2004." "Opposed the release"? Doesn't he mean "decided not to permit the release"? He's president. He's not just a guy participating in a debate. But he's more comfortable as a debater, not as someone who takes responsibility for decisions.

Cheney's is the speech of a grownup, of a chief executive, of a statesman. He's sober, realistic and concrete, stands up for his country and its public officials, and has an acute awareness of the consequences of the choices one makes as a public official and a willingness to take responsibility for those choices.

What is truly extraordinary about this chain of events is how easily a well known MSM villain, Dick Cheney,so thoroughly destroyed a major campaign point used to get Barack Obama elected. Upon reflection, it was almost too easy but everyone should be reminded that books have been written about this sort of thing for decades.

Afterthought: For an example of how thoroughly the Left is emotionally invested (forget logic) in the "torture meme", consider Andrew Sullivan's hyperventilating after the Cheney speech. Seriously, this is the sort of argument that belongs in a local Family Court, not The Atlantic.


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Comments (31)

For whatever reason, GW did... (Below threshold)

For whatever reason, GW did not speak out about these issues forcefully and Cheney couldn't. Now Cheney is free to speak and low and behold his approval ratings are rising. Obama made two very poor decisions that will plague him for the length of his one term. Had he not played politics with National Security, his honeymoon could have lasted for a long time to come. ww

Poor Barry. What with his ... (Below threshold)

Poor Barry. What with his thin skin, no wonder his hair is graying. And Bush made it all look so easy, even an incompetent 1st term Senator could do the job. So, in reality, it really is Bush's fault.

Obama has backed himself in... (Below threshold)
Mac Lorry:

Obama has backed himself into another corner claiming EIT's are against American values. As has been pointed out, however, America's deepest value is keeping it's citizens safe from attack on American soil. That's way Obama and the left have to claim EIT's don't work. However, Cheney's call for the release of the memos showing what was learned from the use of EIT's is a direct refutation of Obama's argument. The fact that Obama has not released those memos, which the White house admitted today Obama has the authority to do, stinks of a cover-up. Obama is not only withholding the truth from the American people, he lied about having a transparent administration.

Now Obama is making the claim that holding prisoners in Guantánamo serves to recruit more terrorists. What he doesn't get is that it's the "holding prisoners" part, not the where part that might serve to recruit some terrorists. However, I'm skeptical of the claim altogether because if stealthily lobbing hellfire missiles into Pakistani homes with women and children present doesn't recruit terrorists it's absurd to think holding prisoners in Guantánamo serves to recruit terrorists.

Candidate Obama would have ... (Below threshold)

Candidate Obama would have been destroyed by a real opponent.

Have you ever heard a political speech with more I's and My's in it?

They said Mr. Obam... (Below threshold)
They said Mr. Obama told them he was thinking about "the long game" -- how to establish a legal system that would endure for future presidents.
As opposed to the short-term game of, "I'll release then NOW, I opposed EIT for EVERYONE, It's Bush's fault, I think bombing villages and killing civilians...." etc getting elected.
Ideology versus pragmatism.... (Below threshold)

Ideology versus pragmatism. Ideology is nice to campaign on and might even get you elected. Then when the responsibility of governing is yours, reality greets you when you take the coveted seat in the Oval Office and results become more important than theory and principle. It is disturbing how much Obama continues to criticize the previous administration. I have been around a long time and I can't think of any other President who has been such a whiner especially during his so-called "honeymoon" period. It is not George Bush's fault that Mr. Obama cannot seem to find any better way to handle this terrorist detention issue. I don't blame Cheney at all for defending his and the Bush administration's record, and I am sure this clown never expected this push back. I hope people realize that Obama's fecklessness on the terrorist issue is not an exception but a bellwether of what to expect with all his policy decisions both domestic and foreign.

What's an Andrew Sullivan? ... (Below threshold)

What's an Andrew Sullivan? Is this the name for the next communicable disease?

"..he was mulling the need ... (Below threshold)

"..he was mulling the need for a "preventive detention" system that would establish a legal basis for the United States to incarcerate terrorism suspects who are deemed a threat to national security but cannot be tried.."

Combine this with the DHS 'Right Wing' memo, and you get a hint at how the 'Won' plans to deal with future dissent.

Just like his buddies Hugo and Fidel.

hermie beat me to it.... (Below threshold)

hermie beat me to it.

Maybe Andrew Sullivan would... (Below threshold)

Maybe Andrew Sullivan wouldn't need to use such strong words if Dick Cheney would just admit to being Trig's real mother.

Remember when Sullivan responded to the anthrax scare by musing about nuking Baghdad? He'd really rather you forgot.

hmmm...the Moonbat hordes s... (Below threshold)

hmmm...the Moonbat hordes seem to be absent this evening.

Several realities are staring our Moonbats in the face, and the unicorns are nowhere in sight!
(1) NOBODY wants the "detainees" from Gitmo (except China...which only wants their organs). Nobody in Europe, nobody in America...nobody!

(2) It turns out that (gasp!) they're NOT all Cub Scout wannabes, yearning for merit badges!

(3)Apparently having "The Chosen One" as our exalted Fuhrer is not the magic amulet against terror that we were assured it was! Cause now some "Human Bad Stuff Perpetrators" (we used to call them "Terrorists") tried to kill some evil JOOOOOS right here in the U.S.A.

(4) Nancy Pelosi is insane...incompetent...incontinent! Who knew? (OK, we all did)

yup,tough week for the Left. Reality bites...even if your calendar is stuck on 9/10

Justrand 1-4 ( especially ... (Below threshold)

Justrand 1-4 ( especially #3 )

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

Sometimes reality just reac... (Below threshold)

Sometimes reality just reaches out and bitch slaps the stupid right out of you and you're forced to follow the course that others cut before you. Obama may realize it but fails to admit that terrorists really don't have America's best interests in mind when they practice jihad.

Sully is still a loud sock puppet that can't get facts straight even when someone else explains them to him.

"Obama Folds On Detainee Po... (Below threshold)

"Obama Folds On Detainee Policy, Cheney Closes Out Debate"

Hmm, let's see_ Cheney hid out for 8 years and now he's suddenly Dick the Baptist.

Put another way, Dick chose not to document our supposed dire straits while in charge of the government printing office, but is flopping around like a drowning galoot now.

I look forward to his book.

"...consider Andrew Sullivan's hyperventilating after the Cheney speech."_HughS

Sullivan was a mindless supporter of the war in Iraq. He's inherently emotional.

Hmm, let's see_ Ch... (Below threshold)
Hmm, let's see_ Cheney hid out for 8 years and now he's suddenly Dick the Baptist.

Let us know when Obama leaps onto the battlefield in Pahk-ee-stahn.

Sullivan was a mindless supporter of the war in Iraq.

And now he's a mindless critic of it. Nobody here is accusing him of having a mind.

"Cheney hid out fo... (Below threshold)

"Cheney hid out for 8 years" ??

You mean like Osama in a cave? Than why do you fear Him so much?

I cannot even believe you can be so smart yet incredibly backwards?

Watch out. You'll get a vi... (Below threshold)

Watch out. You'll get a visit from Sully for this. It seems every time Jay uttered his name Sully would suddenly appear in the comment section within 24 hours spitting and sputtering. I think he has web bots searching his name out in certain sectors of the web in an effort to leave no mention of his name unchallenged.

But yes. Obama has had to face some realities, hasn't he? What I find amusing is how he will eventually adopt his opponent's stance on a given issue and then speak as though it was his idea all along.

Take the sudden "opposition" to releasing the "torture" photos:

"A senior administration official told FOX News that Obama met with his legal team last week and told them that he did not feel comfortable with the release of the photos because he believes they would endanger U.S. troops, and that the national security implications of such a release have not been fully presented to the court."

Translation; he met with his legal team and uttered the exact same reason his opponents had for opposing it because he was shocked that not everyone in the country was so keen on the idea. But he said it as if it was his idea, his conclusion.

"He believes...."
"...endanger US troops..."
"...national security implications..."

These were the words of his opponents almost exactly. He didn't already know this? He didn't consider any of this when he thoughtlessly released selective memos? Is he deliberately trying to discredit everything he uttered on the campaign trail?

"We'll be completely transparent. Except for this, and this, and this, and...."

"We want to treat people fairly and equitably. Except for him, and him, and him, and...."

"We want to empower citizen groups. Except for them, and them, and them, and...."

What he's really excelling at is turning off his base and confirming in the minds of his opponents how clueless he can be.

(All the trolls can commence to voting this down now.)

George Washington, Thomas J... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, and now Barack Obama:


"Let us know when Obama lea... (Below threshold)

"Let us know when Obama leaps onto the battlefield in Pahk-ee-stahn."-jt

Mister Madison's War: 1812-1815

Mister Bush's War: 2003-present

Obama says, Thanks for the keys, G!

But seriously, dangerous shit.

"But yes. Obama has had to face some realities, hasn't he? What I find amusing is how he will eventually adopt his opponent's stance on a given issue and then speak as though it was his idea all along."-O

It's classic political stagger-step advance with the aim of claiming a New Center while insisting the center has not shifted though it gradually has indeed. Obama's way. Such a ploy requires a bete noir. Pelosi, torture photos release date, CodePink, whatever: taming or winking rebuff of such as these by Obama administration moderates his public image and shifts political landscape in his favor, like you say. Also, the very Being of "torture photos", being completely seperate from the person of Obama and predating his administration, helps to remind the public that he, Obama, inherited a big mess from an evidently undiscipline gang of operatives, and he's doing the best that he can to clean it up safely.

Think Reagan's eventual rebuke of his own budget director Stockman in favor of the Democratic leaderships' "less radical" budgeting priorities.

Think of FDR "falling into" the arms of Baruch and Wall Street to the disadvantage of the his own "radicals" such as Ironpants Johnson.

Less successful presidents such as Truman, were not so willing to play the moderating role and failed to assign a handy stalking horse, instead playing the partisan game clumsily and head-on.

Obama is happy to play Hamlet over torture photos. Operative word: Play.

Wow. After reading the piec... (Below threshold)

Wow. After reading the piece by Sullivan I wonder if his head would explode if ALL the documents were released like the EVIL DARTH CHENEY wanted.

Cheney's rationalization: ... (Below threshold)
Adrian Browne:

Cheney's rationalization: the Reverse Nuremberg Defense~

"I was just giving orders."

"Operative word: Play"</... (Below threshold)

"Operative word: Play"

BryanD - Isn't that what he's done his entire political life? "Play" at being a politician?

He didn't accomplish anything productive as a community organizer, by his own admission. The Annenburg Challenge saw several hundred million dollars wasted on 'education' with no change in grades. His tenure as a State senator had nothing of value accomplished for his constituency, but the money men backing him sure got rewarded in the Chicago style... (Google up Grove Parc, and think how the REST of the country is going to look in 3 more years with that as a template for his 'Accomplishments')

Then he became a US Senator. Thankfully, he did nothing then... but run for President.

Now he's 'playing' at being the leader of the US. I'd feel a hell of a lot better if I thought he took it seriously, and that he realized that being President doesn't mean everything automatically goes how he THINKS it should go. His 'playing' is going to screw us all.

'Cause you know - there's a lot of countries out there who have their OWN agenda, and look on weak leadership here in the US as permission to follow what THEY want, and be damned to the rest of the world.

Iran's getting real froggy, and if Ahmadinijad's stupid enough toss a nuke at Israel, then the TOTUS coming on TV and saying...

"That immediatly he's going to consider the possibility of looking into a commission to make recommendations to a UN committee to issue a sternly worded sanction as soon as all evidence is in about the motivations and desires of the terrorists who did this, because it's not terribly clear at THIS point that Iran actually did it, but there's a possibility that some OTHER country did it, not excluding the chance that Israel did it to itself to gain sympathy, despite the fact that Israel is a trusted ally and Iran run by a murderous nutcase, but we need to look at all the evidence for all the scenarios to determine what's most likely before we consider crafting an appropriate response..."

...is going to be taken as a clear sign that the US is no longer a major player on the world stage. (Which status, I think, we're rapidly losing... but that's another matter.)

..."helps to remind the pub... (Below threshold)

..."helps to remind the public that he, Obama, inherited a big mess...

Obama continues to make excuses. The campaign continues. He can explain the problem but he hasn't a clue on how to deal with it.

And really, why was Obama so concerned about what Cheney would say that he scheduled his speech to effectively pre-empt Cheney?
I've seen this behavior with children who want to make sure the adults hear their version of the "truth" first.

Side note to Houston. You read the Sullivan piece? Gotta give you credit for that.
I gave up on that buffoon long ago.

First off Obama made it nec... (Below threshold)

First off Obama made it necessary to give a speech on National Security because he is rightfully concerned he is losing the discussion. He made a huge error by releasing very selective memo's that not only showed the public that he is playing politics with National Security but he greatly offended the CIA and he knows things will start leaking out. Then you have Pelosi stating the CIA lied to congress. Unfortunately he cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube.

The GOP doesn't have to do anything, just let Obama continue on. ww

The GOP doesn't ha... (Below threshold)
The GOP doesn't have to do anything, just let Obama continue on. ww

And that's a bad thing. I would much rather have the GOP be forced to come up with a coherent set of conservative ideals and governing principles to actually lead this country rather than assuming power by default because the incompetent narcissistic thug Obama and his coterie of worthless hacks can't stop shooting themselves in the foot.

OregonMuse, if the GOP keep... (Below threshold)

OregonMuse, if the GOP keeps a low profile, the dems cannot use us to distract from the mess they are making. ww

I think Gitmo should be clo... (Below threshold)

I think Gitmo should be closed but the "prisoners" should taken care of legally and with the same judiciary concern as every American. NO coercion with interrogation tactics, not held in this new preventive detention (minority report anyone?) but with a trial. If guilty, we have prisons on our soil since that was where the "crimes" were pertaining to. If innocent, back to your own country, we have no jurisdiction over you.

Jay, you live in a fantasy... (Below threshold)

Jay, you live in a fantasy world. ww

Jay, these are not your run... (Below threshold)

Jay, these are not your run of the mill domestic criminals. Trying them in civilian courts won't work because there are sensitive national security issues that cannot be discussed in civilian courts. If you're under some misconception that they'll get a fair trial that way, think again.

"If guilty, we have prisons on our soil since that was where the "crimes" were pertaining to."

Not all the prisoners at Gitmo, or in any other facility, committed crimes on our soil. In fact, maybe a handful were responsible to some degree for 9/11. Have you forgotten the 19 who actually committed 9/11 are D.E.A.D.? And why did you feel it necessary to put "crimes" in quotes?

"If innocent, back to your own country, we have no jurisdiction over you."

Some of these people are denied admittance to their own countries. What then?

What sort of simplistic little planet did you just fly in from?

JayThe detainees a... (Below threshold)


The detainees at Gitmo would be Prisoners of War if they had abided by the rules of war. You keep POW in order to deplete the enemy of resources. Once hostilities are over they can be returned to their own country.

Now current is Issue is people who have been released have been recaptured on the battlefield.
Other issues are their own countries do not want them.
Also we do not want to have trails where we just start trying men for fighting a war if they were not committing crimes, like rape, murder of prisoners or other such thing crimes against civilians as that would allow other countries to put American war fighters on trail for BS reasons.

I have heard this said over and over so Jay please teal me what crimes you would charge these men with?

WHY THE CHENEYS WON'T LEAVE... (Below threshold)


The recent appearances of the Cheneys over the media as a credible political opponent on par to the Obama administration's policies and stances raises an issue of journalistic deontology! This is definitely of artificial making. On the one hand, we've got a legitimately elected President of the United States who has undergone the rigorous electoral process having to make his case to the American people and coming out successful in eliciting the policies he intends to carry out during his mandate within the confines of the American political institutional structure and process. On the other hand, we've got political personae (the Cheneys) who are effectively being presented by the media as a legitimate opponent on par to the Obama administration whereas they do not bear any electoral mandate whatsoever for the political views they profer and with no consequent responsiblity, stake and risk that will arise from any such mandate while the President is tied to them.

The latest case in point, is Liz Cheney's appearance on the Scarborough Show with her critical and undermining views of the President presented in effect as critical views to the Obama speech delivered in Egypt under the disguise of expressing her opinions. For comments/expressions of opinion on the President's policies, her views as well as those of her father have been given such a broad artificial reception by the media that runs very contrary to the expression of opinion as we've come to know it. These views are rather given almost the same weight and placed on par as the political stances of a legitimately elected president with a legitimate mandate for the policies he is undertaking while the Cheney's hold no such legitimate mandate and with no accompanying political accountability whatsoever. The issue here is that such attitude by the media is contrary to what we've come to expect from normal implicit democratic rules. If the Cheneys had any pretense for policies they wished to be implemented after the Bush Administration, the solution would have simply been for Dick or Liz to run for president. Since they didn't, it is artificial for the media to strive to present them as a counterweight on par to the Obama administration's policies well beyong what will be expected for the opinion of a simple citizen that the Cheneys are now notwithstanding their previous political roles. And by the way, by extension is it acceptable that any citizen, no matter what self-righteous pretense they might have, to be artificially given a similar counterweight role on par with the President on any policy issues of the Obama administration while not holding any legitimate political mandate for which they will be politically accountable for their stances? It can be understandable, that the Cheneys can be of direct concern when it comes to matters of direct relation to political issues having to do with Cheney's role in the Bush administration. But to raise their views on the policies and stances the administration should take on par with the President undermines appropriate journalistic deontology because as we should all know by now "elections do matter".

What strikes the mind here is that the Cheneys have perfectly understood this "naïvété" of the media and are using this "media confusion about fairness" to artificially strive to extirpate Mr. Dick Cheney from accusations of introducing torture policies during the Bush Administration among other political accusations. Their strategy is very simple. Legally, Cheney can't make it (they know that secretly). In all courts of law, so-called EITs are definitely torture practices. Besides, the facts as we know them are overwhelmingly against him and the Bush Administration, and Dick Cheney's contradictions are extensive. The real strategy of the Cheney's here is totally otherly: turn it "political". First, saying torture works and was for the good of the country should elicit the fervour of many Americans. Afterall, all what is needed is that a substantial number of Americans polled buy to this argument, and then the issue's legal underpinning may be undermined. Secondly, posing artificially as the right wing counterweight to the Obama's administration policies elicits the impression and fervour in some quarters particularly to the right that he is making the President moderate and thus he is political useful. A look at this second political trick shows how the media has effectively been manipulated: knowing fairly well that in his administrative role the President will have to take practical and pragmatic postures with respect to the release of photos of abused detainees as well as on other policies, all what Dick simply have to do is to posit that he is against releasing the pictures and pretend to take critical policy issues postures on the right, making him seemingly a moderating influence on the President. Thirdly, the Cheneys simply have to claim that Obama is following the Bush Administration's policies he criticized pointing to his strategies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. In this case too, the media is manipulated as they ignore the fact that the Obama administration does not have the luxury of starting from scratch as Bush had on all these issues but rather adopts a "course correction strategy" of the situations to bring them as close as possible to what he advocates. The fact is that, the underlying strategy of Dick and her daughter is to make this three steps political trick extirpate Dick from the accusations levied against the former administration. The sad thing is that the media is "naïvely" falling for these political tricks!






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