If we apply the standards that the left used on Bush, Obama is a war criminal. He’s increased the use of unmanned predator drones on the Af-Pak border, failed to close Gitmo, and expanded the war in Afghanistan, which has led to civilian deaths. The administration now has announced that Obama will continue to hold prisoners in Gitmo indefinitely, and he is also restarting military tribunals to prosecute the prisoners, something he and his lefty cohorts used to call unconstitutional. This has led a Washington Times editorial to ask, “Is Obama a war criminal yet?”
During the 2008 presidential campaign, then-Sen. Barack Obama harshly criticized President George W. Bush’s detainee policies. When he took office, Mr. Obama theatrically announced that he would close Gitmo in a year and find a way to give the terror detainees the full due-process rights enjoyed by American citizens. In so doing, he legitimized the complaints of the worst critics of American counterterrorism policies, including the terrorists themselves.Two years later, some learning appears to have occurred at the White House. The president’s hasty “close Gitmo” pledge foundered on practical and political grounds. Contrary to the story line peddled by anti-war alarmists, the Bush administration already had released most of the detainees that had been held there, and those who remained were the hard cases who truly threatened U.S. national security. Trying the detainees in civilian courts raised a multitude of nettlesome questions about public evidence, speedy trials, Miranda warnings and the other aspects of due process that didn’t support the Bush administration’s warfighting approach.
The big losers in this decision are members of Mr. Obama’s hardline anti-war base. It is the latest in a string of disappointments to the Code Pinkers, Moveon-ers and other formerly Obama-loving peaceniks. The surge in Afghanistan and the ever-lengthening timetable for withdrawal provided them with one regret. The widening and intensifying use of drone aircraft as a counterterrorism tool was another. Now the Gitmo detainees are back in their cages for good. The distraught workers in the peace movement have to be asking themselves how much more they can stand before they begin to mutter the words “Obama” and “war criminal” in the same breath.
The White House detainee policy volte-face vindicates the policies of President George W. Bush. At the very least, Mr. Obama should apologize to his predecessor for smearing his reputation so thoroughly during the 2008 campaign. Our novice commander in chief has learned the valuable lesson that talking about being president, at which Mr. Obama was so adept, is a far cry from actually being president, at which he clearly is not.
I’m glad Obama has seen the light, but I don’t expect any public apologies to Bush. I’m sure President Bush would appreciate a private phone call, though.
The lefty pinkos, meanwhile, are left to support a President who is, by their definition, a war criminal. I can’t wait to see Code Pink attempting a citizen’s arrest on an Obama administration official.