On terrorism, Barack Obama is no George W. Bush
Ruth Marcus scores me, John Bolton, and other conservatives who criticized President Obama's declaration to Bob Woodward that "we can absorb another terrorist attack." She writes, "Put the same words in George W. Bush's mouth -- that the country absorbed [the shock of 9/11] and was stronger -- and these same folks would be cheering him on."
There is a big difference here. No one could argue that George W. Bush failed to do everything possible to prevent another terrorist attack -- indeed, he came under criticism for doing too much and "compromising our values" in the process (criticism with which I strongly disagree). President Obama scaled back those efforts, taking on added risk of a terrorist attack in order to restore what he believes was lost by the Bush administration’s efforts. He took the CIA out of the interrogation business and eliminated a program that was responsible for dismantling terrorist cells that were planning follow-on attacks. His replacement, the so-called High-Value Interrogation Group (HIG) has been a joke. The Post noted earlier this year that there have been "no reports of high-value detentions" since Obama took office. Obama is killing, rather than capturing, terrorists -- but dead terrorists can’t tell you their plans for new attacks. And when a terrorist such as the Christmas Day bomber accidentally fell into U.S. hands, like manna from heaven, the Obama administration gave him a lawyer and told him he had the right to remain silent -- a right he promptly exercised. These decisions, and countless others, have put our country in greater danger of another attack.
Marcus and other Obama defenders want to have it both ways -- they want to praise Obama's actions in scaling back these counterterrorism efforts but don't want to admit they have resulted in added risk. You know who disagrees? Barack Obama. As I pointed out in my post (and which Marcus conveniently ignores) Obama himself admitted when he want to CIA headquarters in April 2009 that he was forcing the agency to protect us with one hand tied behind its back. He told the audience "that’s okay." That is an incredibly candid, and stunningly complacent, admission on the president's part. So when Obama says "we can absorb another terrorist attack" after taking actions that put us at greater risk of such an attack, he's going to come in for criticism.
| September 23, 2010; 8:40 AM ET
Categories: Thiessen | Tags: Marc Thiessen
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