President Barack Obama has been curiously quiet in the 11 days since details of the National Security Agency surveillance program were leaked, according to The Wall Street Journal
Referring to Obama as "The Absent Commander in Chief," the Journal said in an editorial Monday that his silence not only is out of character for a president known for using political speeches to quell controversy, but represents a dangerous abdication of his responsibility for national security.
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"President Obama's admirers — who include most of the press corps, the Nobel committee and President Obama — believe above all in the power of his oratory," the newspaper said. "Which makes the silence of this wordiest of Presidents all the more unusual and dangerous amid the political uproar over National Security Agency antiterror surveillance."
In the absence of robustly defending the country's national security programs, Obama risks diminishing the wartime powers of the presidency, the editorial contends.
"Even an effort by Mr. Obama to lead from behind would be better than this abdication. The president's mistake seems to be a combination of moral afflatus — how could anyone possibly imagine that he would abuse government power? — and treating the current furor as a law school seminar.
"The political danger is a lot greater than that. A real and growing risk is that Congress will move in a way that limits the war powers of the Commander in Chief and endangers national security."
The Journal editorial concluded, "Mr. Obama has been lucky that his predecessors, including Lincoln, FDR, Truman, Reagan, and George W. Bush, protected the wartime powers of the Presidency. This has provided him with the tools to protect Americans from the deadly combination of Islamist fanaticism and modern technology.
"He now has an obligation to explain and defend those tools, lest he leave America more vulnerable and the Presidency weaker than he found them."
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