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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