- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 22, 2009

POLITICIZATION

“This is rather extraordinary,” Stephen F. Hayes writes in a blog at www.weeklystandard.com.

“The Obama administration - the self-declared most transparent administration in history - has released interrogation memos that included descriptions of the valuable intelligence obtained by using coercive techniques. But while Obama advisers thought it appropriate to share detailed descriptions of those techniques with the world - and with the terrorists who might one day be subject to them - these same advisers blocked the release of the information these interrogations provided. They weren’t subtle. All of this information came in the same set of documents,” Mr. Hayes said.

” ‘But just as the memo begins to describe previously undisclosed details of what enhanced interrogations achieved, the page is almost entirely blacked out. The Obama administration released pages of unredacted classified information on the techniques used to question captured terrorist leaders but pulled out its black marker when it came to the details of what those interrogations achieved,’ ” Mr. Hayes said, quoting former George W. Bush administration official Marc A. Thiessen.

“Barack Obama has made two mistakes: 1) such blatant politicizing of intelligence and 2) thinking he can get away with it.

“This is Obama’s arrogance at its worst. The president and his advisers seem to think that because the world loves him - and because he remains popular here at home, too - his decisions will escape serious scrutiny.

“This should be the end of the Obama honeymoon. The country has debated the politicization of intelligence for the last seven years. In that time, we have probably never seen such a clear example of that phenomenon.”

TIMID DEFENDER

“At last week’s Summit of the Americas,President Obama acquiesced to a 50-minute attack on America as terroristic, expansionist and interventionist from Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega,” Mitt Romney writes at National Review Online (www.nationalreview.com).

“His response to Ortega’s denunciation of our effort to free Cuba from Castro’s dictatorship was that he shouldn’t be blamed ‘for things that happened when I was 3 months old.’ Blamed? Hundreds of men, including Americans, bravely fought and died for Cuba’s freedom, heeding the call from newly elected President John F. Kennedy. But last week, even as American soldiers sacrificed blood in Afghanistan and Iraq to defend liberty, President Obama shrank from defending liberty here in the Americas,” said Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and Republican presidential candidate.

“In his first press interview as president, he confessed to Arabic television that America had ‘dictated’ to other nations. No, Mr. President, America has fought to free other nations from dictators. And in Strasbourg, the president further claimed that America has ‘showed arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.’

“London’s Daily Telegraph observed that President Obama ‘went further than any United States president in history in criticizing his own country’s action while standing on foreign soil.’ Of course, it was not just the Daily Telegraph that was listening: People around the world who yearn for freedom, who count on America’s resolve and support, heard him as well. He was heard in China, in Tibet, in Sudan, in Burma, and, yes, in Cuba.”

Mr. Romney added: “Vice President Biden was right that the new president would be tested early in his administration. What the world learned was not good news for freedom and democracy. The leader of the free world has been a timid advocate of freedom at best. And bold action to blunt the advances of tyrants has been wholly lacking. We are still very early in the Obama years - the president will have ample opportunity to defend America and freedom, and to deter nuclear brinkmanship. I am hoping for change.”

HAT IN RING

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officially launched his campaign to become California’s next governor using Twitter on Tuesday, embracing social-networking tools in what is likely to be a crowded field in 2010.

“It’s official - running for Gov of CA. Wanted you to be the first to know. Need your help. Check out video: https://tr.im/iOCN and ReTweet,” Mr. Newsom said on his feed, which can be found at Twitter.com/gavinnewsom.

The “tweet” linked to a slick Web video. On Tuesday, the mayor had more than 276,000 Twitter followers and raised more than $15,000 online, reporter Christina Bellantoni writes on her politics blog at WashingtonTimes.com.

His Web site, GavinNewsom.com, reproduces many of the successful elements from BarackObama.com, including organizing and fundraising tools along with social-networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. The site mentions Mr. Newsom’s role in the short legalization of same-sex marriage, and says he will fight for marriage equality if elected.

The first words in Mr. Newsom’s three-minute video announcing his candidacy are in Spanish, perhaps an early push against expected Democratic candidate Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Mr. Newsom also is putting a focus on green-building projects and health care.

Expected to run on the Republican side are former eBay CEO Meg Whitman and state Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner. Current Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger cannot run again because of term limits.

REAL LEADERSHIP

“The Obama administration’s decision not to attend this week’s ‘Durban II’ conference on racism in Geneva means that boycotting outrageous United Nations parleys is now officially bipartisan U.S. policy. This is real U.S. leadership,” John R. Bolton writes in the New York Post.

“The decision is likely the administration’s most painful foreign policy call to date. Nonetheless, the U.S. boycott is a major diplomatic signal with long-term ramifications, despite the State Department’s effort to bend its knee by expressing ‘regret’ at the decision,” said Mr. Bolton, who served in the State Department and as ambassador to the United Nations during the previous administration.

“As depressed as backers of unconstrained U.S. ‘engagement’ must be, our boycott reflects an inescapable reality: The outcome of Durban II was going to be as hateful and anti-Semitic as that of the original, 2001 U.N. ‘anti-racism’ conference in Durban, South Africa.”

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or [email protected]

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