For a former senior lecturer in constitutional law, President Obama sure has an interesting viewpoint on the U.S. Constitution. It’s a position that likely would mystify the Founding Fathers and most other presidents in our nation’s history.
Team Obama has gone after Americans through the Internal Revenue Service targeting of conservative political groups, the Justice Department’s seizure of two months of Associated Press phone records and now a possible criminal prosecution of Fox News’ James Rosen. At the same time, it is fighting hard to close the Guantanamo detention facilities and grant full constitutional rights to 166 foreign terrorist suspects.
It’s almost stranger than fiction, a worrisome step beyond George Orwell’s “1984.” Instead of Big Brother merely watching our every move and curtailing our freedoms, it kicks it up a notch by helping those who are out to destroy us. Literally.
In a speech to senior military officers Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington, Mr. Obama is expected to discuss the successful dismantling of al Qaeda’s core, share his rationale for drone strikes and reiterate his plan for closing Guantanamo.
It will be a challenge, however, to explain positions that are inherently non-sequiturs — wiping out more than 3,000 terrorist suspects overseas on a “secret kill list” while treating those captured as if they had only robbed liquor stores.
Team Obama also has complained thousands of times about the CIA’s use of coercive interrogations, specifically about waterboarding three detainees, which left Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and two other top al Qaeda leaders unharmed. Yet somehow, this same team views death by drone strike without any due process — including those of U.S. citizens Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year old son, Abdulrahman — as perfectly acceptable.
The president has repeatedly invoked “core values” as reasons for closing Guantanamo. It’s his top talking point, followed closely by his comments on the “rule of law.”
However, shouldn’t our “core values” reflect our right to be protected against all enemies — foreign and domestic? It’s the key element in the military’s oath of enlistment.
Adhering to our “core values” means the government should protect public safety so Americans don’t have planes flown into our buildings or attend sporting events and have their limbs blown off.
Yet those who share Mr. Obama’s ivory tower don’t pay sufficient attention to those “core values.”
Instead, they would rather focus their efforts on securing constitutional rights for the Sept. 11 co-conspirators, the USS Cole bombers, the Bali nightclub bombers and scores of other dangerous men who have collectively killed thousands of innocent civilians worldwide. Let’s keep in mind that roughly one-third of detainees who have left Guantanamo have returned to terrorism, so facilitating the release of more is a dangerous prospect.
As for the “rule of law,” it’s called the “law of war,” which stems from centuries-old customary international law, and is meant to protect a country during wartime. It’s why we have detainees at Guantanamo and trials by military commissions in the first place.
Taken together, the president’s robust use of drones and obsession for closing Guantanamo don’t make sense — perhaps even less so than the Benghazi talking points.
We can learn a lot from that debacle. The talking points’ 12 revisions plainly showed White House and State Department senior officials attempting to deceive the American people about the terrorist attack by blaming an entirely unrelated YouTube video that practically no one watched. It speaks volumes about Mr. Obama’s terrorism policy.
It doesn’t have to be rational, truthful or even in our best interests. As long as Mr. Obama thinks the majority of Americans will buy into his plan, that’s all that matters to him.
For far too long, many in the mainstream media have been complicit in providing top cover for Mr. Obama, with some major network anchors swooning over his speeches — reinforcing the arrogance that characterizes his administration.
The arguably unconstitutional attacks on Tea Party groups, AP and Fox News are turning the tide, though, with polls showing a wide majority of Americans in favor of more probes into White House scandals.
It’s time the American people stand up to Mr. Obama and remind him that his job is to do his job. The Constitution doesn’t say anything about civilian trials for foreign terrorists, though it does focus on protecting Americans.
Perhaps it’s time Mr. Obama rereads the Constitution. Although he no longer can be punished directly at the polls, his allies in Congress certainly can in 2014. They all must be held accountable.
J.D. Gordon is a retired Navy commander and former Pentagon spokesman who served in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the George W. Bush administration.