I am looking at the 'Fundamental Values' speech of President Obama from 20 MAR 2009 at National Journal's Hotline On Call and it may vary from the given speech as these things can be different from the initial copy to final presentation. The speech is given in front of the National Archives building, and I'll excerpt my problem areas as I go along.
First is the very first part:
These are extraordinary times for our country. We are confronting an historic economic crisis. We are fighting two wars. We face a range of challenges that will define the way that Americans will live in the 21st century. There is no shortage of work to be done, or responsibilities to bear.
And we have begun to make progress. Just this week, we have taken steps to protect American consumers and homeowners, and to reform our system of government contracting so that we better protect our people while spending our money more wisely. The engines of our economy are slowly beginning to turn, and we are working toward historic reform of health care and energy. I welcome the hard work that has been done by the Congress on these and other issues.
The primary duty of the President is Commander of the Armies and the Navy, which is also the seat of the Admiralty power and this the President Commander in Chief of our armed forces. He is not given the spot to remedy economic ills, or other woes of the financial sector - in no place is this given as a Presidential duty. Indeed, that primary responsibility calls for the thing the Left bemoaned over the last few years: sacrifice. Yet this President has decided to fight on the cheap by removing funding for weapons systems that have either been demonstrated as effective (such as Ballistic Missile Defense) or which went into final testing after acceptance (like the Non-Line of Sight Cannon). Such systems are meant to protect the Nation and our soldiers in the battlefield and make them more effective. By cutting back on systems, support and equipment, President Obama is the first President in quite some time to actually cut back on military systems during two Congressionally Authorized wars.
Protecting 'consumers' and homeowners, reforming government contracting, nor trying to provide indulgences... ahhh... sinecures... no... that's not it... ENTITLEMENTS to the American people. none of that is actually carrying out that wartime duty. All of those are a distraction from the primary duty of the President during wartime and are normally relegated off the table when there are ongoing conflicts. Quite the contrary, the massive, historic, and ill-conceived spending to 'bailout' nearly everyone from automobile companies, large banks, homeowners, 'consumers', and the rest of it is taking money from our current and necessary needs of supporting two conflicts and ensuring that they end satisfactorily. Iraq still requires US commitment to ensure that the government can, indeed, stand up on its own and face the local threats of the region. By all estimates that will not be done until sometime around 2015 if all goes well. Afghanistan is now nearly isolated with Pakistan faltering as Islamic radicals move against the government and its institutions. As we move 90% or more of our supplies to Afghanistan through Pakistan, spending money on domestic problems when our war fighters are at the mercy of a decaying situation in Pakistan is not only ill-conceived, but horrific in its possible consequences. As this administration has offered no better means of supplying our troops at the end of one of the longest supply chains on the planet, touting nice things done for the citizenry at home while neglecting his duties abroad is fundamentally an abdication of DUTY he volunteered to take.
The President does recognize the responsibility to keep us safe at home, but:
This responsibility is only magnified in an era when an extremist ideology threatens our people, and technology gives a handful of terrorists the potential to do us great harm. We are less than eight years removed from the deadliest attack on American soil in our history. We know that al Qaeda is actively planning to attack us again. We know that this threat will be with us for a long time, and that we must use all elements of our power to defeat it.
Already, we have taken several steps to achieve that goal. For the first time since 2002, we are providing the necessary resources and strategic direction to take the fight to the extremists who attacked us on 9/11 in Afghanistan and Pakistan. We are investing in the 21st century military and intelligence capabilities that will allow us to stay one step ahead of a nimble enemy. We have re-energized a global non-proliferation regime to deny the world's most dangerous people access to the world's deadliest weapons, and launched an effort to secure all loose nuclear materials within four years. We are better protecting our border, and increasing our preparedness for any future attack or natural disaster. We are building new partnerships around the world to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its affiliates. And we have renewed American diplomacy so that we once again have the strength and standing to truly lead the world.
What steps are we taking to go after the Taliban/al Qaeda/Shadow Army and their helpers from the Mehsud backed organization and Gulbudden Hekmatyar's organization? Cutting the military during active conflicts is NOT investment in fighting.
The 'global non-proliferation regime' hasn't worked. Even at its best companies from advanced Nations, like Japan's Mitutoyo which was done during the wonder years of the Clinton Administration in 1995. That saw 10,000 precision measuring devices that make up nuclear separators go out into the nuclear black market from an above-board firm and no one suspected it for YEARS. Of course no one on the Left wants to bring that up, of other French and German companies that did similar things during that last lovely period of 'non-proliferation' that saw Pakistan, India and now North Korea gain nuclear capability. That concept just didn't work even with our ALLIES helping us.
Beyond that the Left is going to get heartburn with President Obama giving the same reason that President Bush gave to go after Saddam Hussein: "...deny the world's most dangerous people access to the world's deadliest weapons..." Yup, there it is again, the thing the Leftists have hated for the last 6-7 years or so, which is the reason we finally decided that Saddam's not keeping his cease-fire negotiations had to be called for the sham it was. I'm glad that ONE Leftist has recognized the problem, even though the last solution is a non-solution in actually stopping the problem.
With Mexico fighting a massive criminal insurgency based on the drug trade and some of that spilling over our borders how can any President say we are 'better protecting our border'? Have we closed it to all traffic save ports of entry? No? Then that is a major problem that remains unaddressed to this very day and we will pay for it if that criminal insurgency spreads any further north than it already has into parts of Texas and as far north as Phoenix, AZ.
After insulting the UK, presenting a lackluster performance at the G-20 that no one took seriously, starting a virtual trade war with Mexico over trucking and imports, having a DHS Secretary that has pissed of Canada by imputing that it is a haven for terrorists, and being unable to do anything with Russia to stop hostile acts towards Georgia or helping us in supply our troops overland with the help of Turkmenistan, just what, pray tell, is our diplomacy doing to help us fight al Qaeda or strengthen our ties with our allies? This is not leadership save in the negative sense of appearing weak and feckless. How can anyone take us seriously on nuclear non-proliferation if we can't even figure out basic diplomatic protocol and so as to not insult our allies?
So far I am less than impressed with President Obama trying to tell me that weakness is strength, that not building up defenses are building them up, and no protection is protection. Plus all this wanting to do jobs that the government isn't given to do and abdicating his duty on a job he DOES get to do.
The next piece is priceless:
These steps are all critical to keeping America secure. But I believe with every fiber of my being that in the long run we also cannot keep this country safe unless we enlist the power of our most fundamental values. The documents that we hold in this very hall - the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights -are not simply words written into aging parchment. They are the foundation of liberty and justice in this country, and a light that shines for all who seek freedom, fairness, equality and dignity in the world.
I stand here today as someone whose own life was made possible by these documents. My father came to our shores in search of the promise that they offered. My mother made me rise before dawn to learn of their truth when I lived as a child in a foreign land. My own American journey was paved by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple words - "to form a more perfect union." I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never - ever - turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.
Now about that hall, the National Archives, is that the same place that Sand 'Big Socks' Berger took historical documents on the decision of the Clinton Administration not to go after Osama bin Laden? Say, why did that guy get off so lightly, anyways? That is destroying historical documents of a historical Presidency, and those are priceless as no duplicates exist of them. And just a couple of days ago a hard drive from the Clinton Administration went missing. Luckily it was backed up, but it is still saying something that an item kept in that very hall with such enshrined documents went walkabout. Now that very same building has had problems with folks filching signatures from historic documents, stamps and other bits and pieces from the archives... so you just might want to check and see just why these things we value so highly as a Nation are given such poor security.
Our own Founders, however, point to a lot of documents that they used to get to our documents, as they valued the tradition of civilization and wanted to ensure that our views in the Declaration fit with our overall understanding of the role of Earthly law as opposed to the Law of Nature and Nature's God, plus keep up the fine tradition of being part of the Great Peace of Westphalia and ensure that we kept continuity with our understanding of the Common Law as a Nation under the Law of Nations. Plus the Black Book of the Admiralty. But we don't teach those things any more so it is not surprising that the effort to make us forget them has gone apace to the point where those historic foundations and views are lost on the current President.
Saying that you understand the necessity of needing to form a more perfect Union and then push on things not given to any President to do represents a gross inability to actually understand the actual Constitution. That is not surprising as President Obama has proven unable to understand why a negative rights document, like the Constitution, is fundamental to ensuring that government does not become despotic or tyrannical. In fact in pressing for 'bailouts' that have little to no 'oversight' and that rewards political backers can be SEEN as despotic heading towards tyrannical demonstrates how deeply he misunderstands the duties laid out for the President as they are a subset of duties under the Law of Nations and divided up particularly by the Constitution so as to ensure that no single President ever gains such power to thwart the law and reduce the say of the people over expenditures of their money by the government.
Somehow that is not keeping up with the enduring principles of that the Constitution engenders, but actually defying them.
This speech, so far, is: do one thing, say another, mean a third.
After that section President Obama goes on a values rampage and there are a couple of peculiarities that show up.
First is this one:
It is the reason why enemy soldiers have surrendered to us in battle, knowing they'd receive better treatment from America's armed forces than from their own government.
The Imperial Japanese forces didn't recognize this, nor did the Moro's during their insurrection, and KSM has derided us for our values and has only sought to use them against us up to and including telling us that we really must do our duty to him via what our own Nation stands for. You see we draw a distinction, and always have, between professional soldiers and those fighting in Private war venues. In fact one of our greatest Presidents ensured that the differences were made clear, succinct and that summary justice on the battlefield was done to those who fought in Private war against us. We do that not because we are horrific, but because it is lawful and civilized and has been to as far as ALL history we have knowledge of that records those fighting like this. To be a 'student of the Constitution' one must understand the power outlay and how that fits within the understood framework of the Law of Nations. We do provide greatly for those enemies that fight in a civilized venue, that adhere to the known standards of conduct of wars between Nations. For those that don't, as our forefathers tell us going back to the Founding and to the documents they used to gain insight into how Nations work, there is no mercy and swift justice with prejudice involved.
I suspect, however, that he has something else in mind that is NOT in keeping with our history, our values and our understanding of why those fighting Private war deserve only the Terrible Swift Sword of the Republic wielded without Mercy and with Prejudice.
From Europe to the Pacific, we have been a nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are. And where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.
Terrorists are not offering 'injustice' and 'disorder and destruction' are but means and methodologies, and they are hallmarks of the way they have chosen. They do still follow a set of laws, but it is not Earthly law, but that of Nature and Nature's God, red in tooth and claw. It is man turned to savage animal, with a facade of thought so as to carry out cruelty in a wanton manner and attack all societies so as to return mankind to the Law of Nature where the weak are ruled by the strong. Chaos is a means to an end, not the end entire, as there is a logic behind the Law of Nature as we all well know. A horrific logic that recognizes justice only of domination and of subjugating others, of killing as you please to get your way. Thus they fight in Private war as enemies of all mankind to dissolve societies and institute the brutal rule of savage man once more. To us that seems as injustice, but we must recognize that it is the older order of justice which we defend against by creating societies with internal laws and compliance to them to gain the protection of such laws.
We call them outlaws by the conception that they are outside the law and cannot be protected by it as that takes personal adherence and submission to the law to form civil society. Yes, there I go bringing up the understood tradition of such a thing, and looking to see that it has great importance over how we approach those who have disdained all civil law, refuse to submit to it and who take up Private war against us all. Thus these outlaws hate us not because we have such lovely values and institutions, but because we will not submit to those waging war against us. It isn't a question of 'disorder and destruction' those are means to an end, not the end in and of itself. They do offer something: rule under the Law of Nature. It is that which we find an abomination.
Now for this passage:
After 9/11, we knew that we had entered a new era - that enemies who did not abide by any law of war would present new challenges to our application of the law; that our government would need new tools to protect the American people, and that these tools would have to allow us to prevent attacks instead of simply prosecuting those who try to carry them out.
Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that - too often - our government made decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, and all too often trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions. Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, we too often set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford. And in this season of fear, too many of us - Democrats and Republicans; politicians, journalists and citizens - fell silent.
It is interesting that since we opened Guantanamo, went after Saddam and robustly went after terror cells wherever we could find them by whatever means were at hand, that there have not been successful attacks upon the US since 9/11 that hit our soil.
Now when he talks about government making hasty decisions based upon fear rather than foresight, he is talking about the 'bailouts', TARP and such, right?
But those were sold completely with fear mongering, scare tactics, and pushing through legislation that folks in Congress didn't even READ because it was so 'urgent' that President Obama could spend a few days on vacation after it passed before he signed it... and we have completely set aside the power of having to follow the law on bankruptcies and the President has usurped the power of Congress in that area to craft things that do not follow any legal stricture of guidelines. He must be fessing up to making horrific decisions and is about to apologize to us, no? I mean all that spreading of economic doom and gloom and fear, that has got to be it, right?
In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people, who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach - one that rejected torture, and recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.
Close an effective institution that your own Attorney General categorized as efficient, well managed and operating under proper legal guidelines? One that, since its opening, has protected us and only 1 in 7 of those let out have returned to their horrific ways... well, no institution is perfect.
So when will this President recognize the extra-legal activities he has taken with regards to bankruptcy laws set by Congress? Really a President that so adores the Constitution and the law ought to be able to use the instruments of the law and not go 'winging it' in areas already well defined by the Constitution as an area given to Congress to set up the law.
What's up with that?
And why have so many fallen silent about these extra-legal methods being deployed in the area of bankruptcy? They are well known...
Now President Obama wants to go on this 'Fundamental Values' bit with terrorists:
Now let me be clear: we are indeed at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat. But we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process; in checks and balances and accountability. For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable - a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions; that failed to use our values as a compass. And that is why I took several steps upon taking office to better protect the American people.
He hasn't been clear on much of anything so far, is he sure that we are at war with al Qaeda?
Just asking, given his opaqueness on bankruptcy law.
About this updating institutions bit: why?
Look a prior President that I cited above, set out exactly, plainly what to do with those that use the concept we call 'terrorism' as a means to their end. Pretty damned blunt on the institution, being the military, and what to do, namely summary justice on the battlefield. And the Geneva Conventions has these 'terrorists' actually fall outside of the Convention as they adhere to no Nation, and that is one of the Fundamental Values we have since the Founding in military sorties done by Presidents Jefferson, Jackson and Lincoln. So what, exactly, needs updating? THEY understood what they had to do, as did Presidents McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt against the Moros. If these fine stewards of the Nation knew and utilized their powers via all known laws of war as they are understood even under the later Geneva Conventions, and pre-existing systems like the Hague Convention, then what is it that needs to be updated?
These previous occupants understood their Oaths, their Duty, the rule of law and the due process of military law.
All of them.
Once set and approved those methodologies require no further checks: Congress had their say in how the armed forces are to be run.
The law on the military side is its own balance once its course is set, and there is ACCOUNTABILITY up the chain of command to the very top from the very bottom. There is nothing 'ad hoc' save having a President unwilling to cut the orders to make sure that we didn't capture ANY 'terrorists'. Those that we needed information from we could offer life internment at a lovely place, say Guantanamo... or just utilize the battlefield justice to give them what they are due, which would probably have made them shut up and accept a bullet. ANY information garnered from Guantanamo is a success of expediency: in return for information we let you live out your days in exile from mankind so as to keep all Nations safe from you. That is leeway we give the CinC as the head of the Admiralty: to protect us and use means that may not fulfill immediate duties so as to carry out the duty of protecting all societies from those fighting under the Law of Nature.
As for the 'ad hoc' framework, I do agree: our terrorism laws are complex, and never get to the point of what terrorism is and how to deal with it. I suggest using the absolutely understood legal framework of the Piracy code as it is the best system ever devised by man to go after those fighting Private war on land and at sea. Even by the strictest interpretation of the Priacy code, al Qaeda has staged piratical attacks not only on the US, via the USS Cole attack, but upon other merchant ships of other Nations. Similarly Hezbollah is due for that after performing a missile attack on a merchant vessel, HAMAS for staging sea based landings of Israel, and the Islamic radical organizations that cooperated on the Mumbai attacks as they took over a ship at sea to do their work. Those are ALL open and shut cases that then get all those organizations the lovely 'Pirate' label and all those in such organizations can then be tossed away for life on simple finding that they are part of the organization in any way, shape or form. Those aiding and abetting get ten years in the pokey, which lets you go after merchant support of Pirates. The code is very clear, easy to read and succinct in what to do and how to determine who is and is not a Pirate.
This requires no 'new' framework, just to enforce the DAMNED LAWS as they stand.
You know, what President 'Mr. Expert on the Constitution' Obama is supposed to do? Constitutional and legal scholar and all that?
Enforce the EXISTING laws?
Now on to tortured reasoning, and the reasoning is tortured:
First, I banned the use of so-called enhanced interrogation techniques by the United States of America.
I know some have argued that brutal methods like water-boarding were necessary to keep us safe. I could not disagree more. As Commander-in-Chief, I see the intelligence, I bear responsibility for keeping this country safe, and I reject the assertion that these are the most effective means of interrogation. What's more, they undermine the rule of law. They alienate us in the world. They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists, and increase the will of our enemies to fight us, while decreasing the will of others to work with America. They risk the lives of our troops by making it less likely that others will surrender to them in battle, and more likely that Americans will be mistreated if they are captured. In short, they did not advance our war and counter-terrorism efforts - they undermined them, and that is why I ended them once and for all.
The arguments against these techniques did not originate from my Administration. As Senator McCain once said, torture "serves as a great propaganda tool for those who recruit people to fight against us." And even under President Bush, there was recognition among members of his Administration - including a Secretary of State, other senior officials, and many in the military and intelligence community - that those who argued for these tactics were on the wrong side of the debate, and the wrong side of history. We must leave these methods where they belong - in the past. They are not who we are. They are not America.
And I reject the assertion otherwise on water-boarding. We have multiple heads of the CIA and members of the INTEL Community that have told us otherwise, that attacks in Los Angeles and Brooklyn have been thwarted due to information gathered via water-boarding. Thus we have evidence that it IS effective. Safe, too, compared to how it is done in SERE training. So the contrary assertion needs firm, strong and definitive backing, which is lacking.
We are not the ones undermining the rule of law: terrorists do that by refusing to submit to civil law. At any point up to their capture they can submit to civil law and be held accountable to it. They do not. That is their action, not ours, and it places them outside of all law venues save the harshest: battlefield justice. When captured by civil means they get civil justice, and then the law needs to be harsh to remove these people from ever being a threat to any society ever again.
Could the President please cite those we have alienated due to these methods? Name the Nations, Mr. President, and tell us exactly what they disagree with... we would like to send them a whole lot of terrorists to take care of! Really, if any other Nation is morally superior in this venue, then lets hand THEM the problem to figure out as it is one for all of mankind. We get the shitty end of the stick because we happen to have a bit more military might and wherewithal to bring such people down and in. So lets ship the terrorists off to the complainers so they can DEMONSTRATE how to safely get such information and then make sure these terrorists never, ever become a threat to mankind AGAIN.
They serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists? I can see it now: 'Join al Qaeda so when the US captures you, you can be water-boarded! It is far better than what will happen to you in EGYPT or SYRIA!!!'
Yup, makes sense.
No? The President is trying to make another case? Really? Just what sort of a rube is this guy, anyway?
And on 'increasing their will...', I always thought that it was cartoons that did that and flushing of Korans. The militants seem to go on about those a whole lot more than getting water-boarded or having to listen to Black Sabbath for a few weeks... cranked to 11.
Decreasing the will of others to work with us? Only when the NY Times lets National Secrets out... I'm sure President Obama can figure out how to stop that, no?
Now here is a sticking point: where are the al Qaeda and Taliban prison camps?
Really! Where are they?
These are the guys that don't go in for that, remember? Beheadings are their deal, usually with a dull pen knife but a hatchet that hasn't been sharpened in a decade will do, too. THEY DON'T FOLLOW THE RULE OF LAW. It is kill, kill, kill and kill a bit more, plus some rape, pillage and don't follow your own religious code when you get a chance. So what are we seeking? Sharper hatchets and swords in beheadings? What, exactly, will we gain from TERRORISTS by being NICE TO THEM?
Please, tell me! A bit less abuse before they kill those they capture? And how about that killing civilians as a way of doing business which NO MILITARY in their RIGHT MIND would do... which points up the problem of the Imperial Japanese forces, doesn't it? What the hell is this 'moral equivalency' BS?
Oh, and thank you, Senator McCain, for giving this bozo President cover for trying to get more of our troops killed by being nice to terrorists and then trying to get them into civil jurisdiction where they DON'T BELONG. Presidents must have this ability to be harsh as those they are fighting are not civilized and seek to tear civilization down. Yes, we don't torture. No I don't see how using water-boarding on terrorists is 'torture'. No definitions don't help you as the thing I DO like is a few grams of lead deposited at high velocity with a terminal impact going inside a terrorist. Anything else done to them that is not wanton cruelty to animals isn't torture.
After that the President goes on to Guantanamo, and as I've already hit that let me point out that with Guantanamo we have:
- Not suffered another attack on the US,
- Gotten high value targets that orchestrated the operations of 9/11 put away there and out of circulation,
- Stopped attacks on the US that were in planning stages when you would really LIKE to stop them,
- It is a place where the MAIN conviction is being found to be an illegal combatant under the laws of war, which has been done to a number of prisoners,
- 1 out of 7 prisoners released has returned to terrorism which is a damned sight better than how our civil system works for normal criminals,
- Had a zero percent escape rate plus a near zero percent outside contact rate, unlike civilian prisons,
- Has had the current AG plus numerous other international organizations deem Guantanamo as well run and humane, plus being thoroughly legal.
By these effects it is not only legal but effective in what it is doing.
Plus no one has offered a better solution.
President Obama is trying to make a problem where NONE exists:
Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release seventeen Uighur detainees took place last fall - when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents. In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.
There are no neat or easy answers here. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo. As President, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. Our security interests won't permit it. Our courts won't allow it. And neither should our conscience.
My conscience isn't bothered by Guantanamo. Quite the opposite, I know it is being run in method that is far too civilized for those that deserve battlefield justice. I only get qualms about why we are keeping individuals there in the first place when they deserve the lead solution on the battlefield. The Uighars are TERRORISTS they not only fight China... remember this, this standard applies to China as well... but they fight against all civilization by aligning themselves with al Qaeda. In that alignment they deserve not to be let loose under some strange idea of 'justice' but recognized as the mortal threat to a brother Nation, and if we are too queasy about doing the right thing we can let CHINA do its form of justice on them. They will be... persecuted? Terrorists? Nuh-uh, that doesn't wash no matter how much soap you use. We may find these people 'innocent' of being involved in active hostilities: then we are to send them HOME.
Ahhh... there's the rub, no? Their home countries don't want them because they will most likely be seen as terrorists... and our problem with that is? We are not talking about persecution for religious beliefs or political views, we are looking at individuals who understand that where they are at is the most lenient treatment they will get on Planet Earth because they are viewed as terrorists and willing to take up Private war against their fellow man at home. Believe it or not, closing Guantanamo will not help this: they will not be seen as any less a threat just because WE SAY SO. To think otherwise is extremely authoritarian and trying to tell other Nations how to run their own internal affairs for the prime decisive factor of who is and is not a part of civil society. We have zero business telling other Nations who to accept in their civil society especially when those individuals have expressed views AND taken actions against such societies. When members are persecuted for purely civil differences of conscience, be it religion, politics or whatnot, then we have a major problem as it is civil society that needs to allow such things as freedom of worship, freedom of speech, freedom of political conscience. For those willing to take up Private war against their society?
Are you nuts?
After that President Obama goes back to the fear mongering bit. Say, stop doing it on the economy FIRST and maybe we will see if what YOU are doing is legal and Constitutional, ok?
From there President Obama tries to bring up the 'where the hell should we put them?' idea:
Let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: we are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people. Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders - highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety. As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following fact: nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal "supermax" prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Senator Lindsey Graham said: "The idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational."
For those who are a threat to National Security and can't be placed anywhere they can endanger Americans: supermax? Do they get phone privileges? See their lawyer once a month? Any means to communicate with the outside world? Because ALL of those ARE a threat to National Security. Including sending letters. Convicted terrorists do not need to leave a supermax if they have any form of contact with the outside world. Neither do mafioso. Plus they then get all the civil law venues that they wish, and that means contact with the outside world.
This is supposed to be a 'smart' President?
Now we might try my idea of closing Alcatraz as a park, depositing all the detainees there and dropping off a month of supplies at a time. No need for guards on-site, only for patrol boats and keeping a few helicopters ready for intercepts. Then set up a live round shooting gallery from the wharfs at San Francisco and invite some of the best long-range rifle companies to show off their wares. Charge a fee per round! Why I'm sure we would get a whole civilian marksmanship thing going just for that alone... might even pay for itself if we limit it to those still learning...
Ah, not to be, of course. President Obama is set to try and wrench the clock back to 9/10 as he sets up how he wants things to go. Pity that:
First, when feasible, we will try those who have violated American criminal laws in federal courts - courts provided for by the United States Constitution. Some have derided our federal courts as incapable of handling the trials of terrorists. They are wrong. Our courts and juries of our citizens are tough enough to convict terrorists, and the record makes that clear. Ramzi Yousef tried to blow up the World Trade Center - he was convicted in our courts, and is serving a life sentence in U.S. prison. Zaccarias Moussaoui has been identified as the 20th 9/11 hijacker - he was convicted in our courts, and he too is serving a life sentence in prison. If we can try those terrorists in our courts and hold them in our prisons, then we can do the same with detainees from Guantanamo.
Awww... letting those waging Private war go into the civil system where they can get their 'civil rights' which they don't want! And the moment they get let off the hook because, you know, military folks can't be pulled out of battle to testify in court because they are doing this thing known as 'fighting for the Nation'? The President does know that the 'Blind Sheikh' moderated a dispute in HAMAS from his cell in the US, right? [Actually a factional dispute between the Muslim Brotherhood/HAMAS and the Sheikh's own GIA] Exercised authority over terrorists? With his lawyer's help? Remember this is supposed to make things 'better'! We can try and even convict them, but that doesn't seem to stop them from helping their comrades and directing them...
Then there is this:
The second category of cases involves detainees who violate the laws of war and are best tried through Military Commissions. Military commissions have a history in the United States dating back to George Washington and the Revolutionary War. They are an appropriate venue for trying detainees for violations of the laws of war. They allow for the protection of sensitive sources and methods of intelligence-gathering; for the safety and security of participants; and for the presentation of evidence gathered from the battlefield that cannot be effectively presented in federal Courts.
Terrorists ARE fighting a war with us! President Obama, way up at the top, SAYS SO. Therefore their FIRST venue is the military not the SECOND. He has gotten the order exactly wrong by his OWN ESTIMATION OF THINGS. This is not the SECOND CATEGORY but the FIRST: he has said as much at the start.
This is one of those deals where he is stating a fantasy: these are not civil problems first, they are military problems first. And if they are not judged to be illegal combatants, that is they do not take part in or support terrorism, then there is NO civil venue that can be used on them for those charges as that is double jeopardy. The primary determination of their being terrorists is MILITARY. Period. If they aren't then the can be brought up for other actions, but not for those involving the terrorist determination. By stating at the start that members of al Qaeda are at war with us, then the first venue is military justice.
The third category of detainees includes those who we have been ordered released by the courts. Let me repeat what I said earlier: this has absolutely nothing to do with my decision to close Guantanamo. It has to do with the rule of law. The courts have found that there is no legitimate reason to hold twenty-one of the people currently held at Guantanamo. Twenty of these findings took place before I came into office. The United States is a nation of laws, and we must abide by these rulings.
US Courts only have say on US soil.
That is why we have military justice, but also why we have Admiralty law that extends US soil to our ships at sea and extra-territorial enclaves known as Embassies. That said if the military has ruled that they are not terrorists, then SEND THEM HOME.
The fourth category of cases involves detainees who we have determined can be transferred safely to another country. So far, our review team has approved fifty detainees for transfer. And my Administration is in ongoing discussions with a number of other countries about the transfer of detainees to their soil for detention and rehabilitation.
That should be done with all that we find not to be terrorists. Period. Send them home.
Reading through the intervening verbiage on the points and I do wish that President Obama would stop harping on the 7-years thing as his party was the cause of dragging things out when a well understood process was stood up after CONSULTING the members of his party. It is the perfect worlders that have held up military tribunals to determine the status of detainees, and that system has only gotten it wrong 1 in 7 times so far. Of course that means 1 in 7 released were and remained terrorists...
Finally, there remains the question of detainees at Guantanamo who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people.
I want to be honest: this is the toughest issue we will face. We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.
Welcome to the real world, President Obama.
I notice you are lacking an answer on this, the #1 thing that you harped about for the last two years.
Remember, he has been touted as the 'adult' by a lot of sympathetic Leftists... yet he has not thought up a solution to a problem that has vexed mankind for... ohh... 6,000 years or so. Did anyone really expect this bozo to think one up in a couple of years?
I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. Other countries have grappled with this question, and so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantanamo detainees - not to avoid one. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight. And so going forward, my Administration will work with Congress to develop an appropriate legal regime so that our efforts are consistent with our values and our Constitution.
I hate to tell President Obama this: but the determination of being an illegal combatant is enough to hold them forever.
Of course a much greater President of years past had the actual solution. We could try battlefield justice. In fact if the troops see too many terrorists cycled through the civilian system to be let loose, that will become the operative mode no matter what the President orders.
Now President Obama goes on at length on things, makes some of my articles look small in comparison. In the 'transparency' arena and 'National Security' concept we get this:
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. Individuals who violated standards of behavior in these photos have been investigated and held accountable. There is no debate as to whether what is reflected in those photos is wrong, and nothing has been concealed to absolve perpetrators of crimes. However, it was my judgment - informed by my national security team - that releasing these photos would inflame anti-American opinion, and allow our enemies to paint U.S. troops with a broad, damning and inaccurate brush, endangering them in theaters of war.
No, Mr. President, you are not a passive actor: you had to ORDER that they not be released, not 'opposed' their release. Get your powers straight, please, and tell it like it is. No one else gets a say on National Security like that.
But this one, a bit further down is a bellyflop:
I ran for President promising transparency, and I meant what I said. That is why, whenever possible, we will make information available to the American people so that they can make informed judgments and hold us accountable. But I have never argued - and never will - that our most sensitive national security matters should be an open book. I will never abandon - and I will vigorously defend - the necessity of classification to defend our troops at war; to protect sources and methods; and to safeguard confidential actions that keep the American people safe. And so, whenever we cannot release certain information to the public for valid national security reasons, I will insist that there is oversight of my actions - by Congress or by the courts.
No, sir, we have not seen 'transparency' in a number of venues and I can start with the non-military ones of TARP, bailouts and strong-arming creditors for those companies going under, plus helping out banks and forcing one to take on a bad business deal it would normally have refused... where is the transparency on these things? Being all open and above-board going outside the bankruptcy channels, forcing creditors to take LESS than they could get through court settlements, and putting Union participation above that of people actually owed money and who should get first dibs as creditors? Our economy is a part of our National Security, too, and you are messing it up to a fare-thee-well by going outside the courts, acting outside the law and generally acting as a one-man show in determining economic winners and losers.
But this is an outright misinforming of the public:
The Framers who drafted the Constitution could not have foreseen the challenges that have unfolded over the last two hundred and twenty two years. But our Constitution has endured through secession and civil rights - through World War and Cold War - because it provides a foundation of principles that can be applied pragmatically; it provides a compass that can help us find our way. It hasn't always been easy. We are an imperfect people. Every now and then, there are those who think that America's safety and success requires us to walk away from the sacred principles enshrined in this building. We hear such voices today. But the American people have resisted that temptation. And though we have made our share of mistakes and course corrections, we have held fast to the principles that have been the source of our strength, and a beacon to the world.
Not only the Framers and Founders, but the Anti-Federalists: they all cast their eyes to the future and looked at how past events challenged previous systems and did their best to ensure that this system wouldn't be screwed up by petty politicians seeking personal power and authority. They did, indeed, know about Pirates, roving bands of marauders, and other outlaws and clearly and succinctly gave that those violating the Law of Nations were to be punished. Says so right there in the US Constitution Article I, Section 8:
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Offenses against the Law of Nations is a second category with its own, well understood framework.
One that President Obama is overlooking.
It describes the Offenses and what may be done about them... and we give the final writing of those laws to Congress. Also note that it is not up to President Obama to make the rules for the governing of the land and naval forces, that is left up to Congress. He gets to run them, and any problems are decided by the courts. Just like Abraham Lincoln did with the rules authorized by him: they followed the governing of Congress.
We don't need a President to set up new 'frameworks': we need Congress to do that when necessary. Executive fiat not required, unless you are Chrysler.
Which brings up that damned transparency thing again....
When do we get to see that, Mr. President?