Thursday, May 21, 2009


Thought of the Day

The need to castigate his predecessor, even as he substantially adopts the Bush administration’s counterterrorism policy, is especially unbecoming in a president who purports to transcend our ideological divisions.

This was perhaps best exemplified by the president’s attack on the very military commission system he has just revived. The dig that the system only succeeded in convicting three terrorists in seven years conveniently omits the fact that the delay was largely attributed to legal challenges advanced by lawyers who now work in his own administration.

Those challenges, despite consuming years of litigation, failed to derail the commission system, which Congress simply re-authorized, substantially unchanged, after a thin Supreme Court majority erroneously struck it down in the 2006 Hamdan case. The commissions, moreover, are now being delayed several more months simply so Mr. Obama can make some cosmetic tweaks that work no real change in the commission process but will enable him to claim that they are somehow a departure from Bush commissions.

It is also not true, no matter how many times Mr. Obama and his supporters repeat it, that Guantanamo Bay and enhanced interrogation (or “torture” as they call it) are primary drivers of terrorist recruitment. The principal exacerbating factor in recruitment is successful terrorist attacks. That is what convinces the undecided to join jihadist movements, and that is what the Bush administration’s approach prevented. And if the president truly insists on “transparency,” he should stop suppressing memoranda that detail the effectiveness of the CIA interrogation program.

Andrew McCarthy


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