Tags: Obama | terror | safety

Obama's Terror Script Pacifies Left, But Includes Safety Clauses

By Ronald Kessler   |   Friday, 23 Jan 2009 03:49 PM

During President Obama’s second day on the job, he sought to appease the left wing of his party by issuing orders that appear to curtail the war on terror but actually do not.

First, he ordered that the Guantanamo Bay military prison camp be closed within a year. But Obama said he now will have to figure out what to do with the prisoners — something President Bush had been trying to do for years.

Obama supporters had claimed that countries that had refused to take the prisoners when Bush was in the White House would embrace Obama and therefore welcome the prisoners when he became president. With one or two exceptions, that has not happened.

As for sending prisoners to the United States, members of Congress with maximum security prisons in their jurisdictions are raising objections to shipping in terrorists. If a home cannot be found for them within a year, Obama will simply extend his order.

Second, Obama said interrogations now must be conducted under conditions imposed in the U.S. Army Field Manual, meaning that no coercive interrogation can be used. But again Obama equivocated, saying that an interagency commission would look into whether other interrogation tactics should be used when nonmilitary agencies such as the CIA question terrorists. Such exceptions probably would appear in classified form.

Moreover, if the CIA believed a terrorist had information about a plot to wipe out New York and Washington with a nuclear device, you can be sure that Obama would override his own order and permit coercive interrogation, including waterboarding, to avert a disaster. Obama is no fool, and since he has been receiving daily intelligence briefings, the president has gotten a dose of reality about the threats we face.

Third, Obama said the CIA no longer would be allowed to operate secret prisons. Guess what? With the transfer of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and other top terrorists to Guantanamo, the CIA closed its secret prisons years ago.

For all the criticism of the detention facility, the fact is that Guantanamo detainees receive more privileges than U.S. citizens receive in American prisons. Maj. Kyndra Rotunda, a former military lawyer assigned to Gitmo, tells Newsmax that Australian Taliban member David Hicks demanded — and received — an $800 Brooks Brothers suit to wear in court. Despite the spiffy suit courtesy of U.S. taxpayers, Hicks was convicted.

Another detainee was offered his freedom but responded by saying, “No, thanks.” The detainee said the weather was not very nice in his country then, and he’d rather be released in the spring.

“The average detainee has gained about 15 pounds,” Rotunda says. “Detainees are very picky. Like if there’s a piece of fruit that has a bruise or is at all bad, they send it back, and the military just takes it back and gives them something a little fresher.”

Already, 61 former detainees from Guantanamo have returned to terrorism since they were released to other countries, according to a Pentagon report. One of them, Ali al-Shihri, has become the deputy leader of al-qaida’s Yemeni branch since being released to Saudi Arabia in 2007. He is suspected of involvement in a deadly bombing of the United States Embassy in Yemen's capital, Sana, in September.

If Obama begins releasing prisoners willy-nilly and they wind up attacking America, he can forget about being re-elected. But for now, it appears that he is engaging in window dressing designed to reassure his base. For those of us who care about America’s security and the safety of our families and friends, that is a good thing.

Ronald Kessler is chief Washington correspondent of Newsmax.com. View his previous reports and get his dispatches sent to you free via
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