Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Obama's speech on al Qaeda, drones, Guantanamo Bay: You heard it here first!

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This post is the result of notice we received that we would be able to obtain a leaked copy of a speech on national security that President Obama plans to give on Thursday, May 23, at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C. At press time, however, we had only received a portion of the transmission -- which appears to be a set of speakers notes and prompts that accompany the speech itself. As an aid to our readers, we are going ahead and publishing these now (see below) and will add the text of the speech as it becomes available.]

[UPDATE THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2013: Excerpts from speech by President Barack Obama shown in gray. Full text available on White House website.]


Keeping America Safe:
Difficult Challenges in an 
Age of Diverse Threats

"It’s an honor to return to the National Defense University. Here, at Fort McNair, Americans have served in uniform since 1791– standing guard in the early days of the Republic, and contemplating the future of warfare here in the 21st century."

Now before you decide you don't believe a word I say, take a close look
at this flag, and this image of the White House behind me. That's right ....
You're getting sleepy ... very sleepy ....

"[M]uch of the criticism about drone strikes – at home and abroad – understandably centers on reports of civilian casualties. There is a wide gap between U.S. assessments of such casualties, and non-governmental reports. Nevertheless, it is a hard fact that U.S. strikes have resulted in civilian casualties, a risk that exists in all wars. For the families of those civilians, no words or legal construct can justify their loss. For me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live, just as we are haunted by the civilian casualties that have occurred through conventional fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq."

The funny thing? I don't have to act like I care. ? Oh ... I mean ...

The sad thing? I don't have to act like I care. I just have to say the
words and people have to act like it's magically true. That's the rule.

And you know what's even sadder? Congress won't work with me! So if we
learn one thing from the Guantanamo hunger strikers, it's that Congress
should do a better job of working with me!

"As President, I have tried to close GTMO. I transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress imposed restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring detainees to other countries, or imprisoning them in the United States. These restrictions make no sense. After all, under President Bush, some 530 detainees were transferred from GTMO with Congress’s support. When I ran for President the first time, John McCain supported closing GTMO. No person has ever escaped from one of our super-max or military prisons in the United States. Our courts have convicted hundreds of people for terrorism-related offenses, including some who are more dangerous than most GTMO detainees. Given my Administration’s relentless pursuit of al Qaeda’s leadership, there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened."

"Today, I once again call on Congress to lift the restrictions on detainee transfers from GTMO. I have asked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions. I am appointing a new, senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries. I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen, so we can review them on a case by case basis. To the greatest extent possible, we will transfer detainees who have been cleared to go to other countries. Where appropriate, we will bring terrorists to justice in our courts and military justice system. And we will insist that judicial review be available for every detainee."

* * *

"Now make no mistake: our nation is still threatened by terrorists. From Benghazi to Boston, we have been tragically reminded of that truth. We must recognize, however, that the threat has shifted and evolved from the one that came to our shores on 9/11. With a decade of experience to draw from, now is the time to ask ourselves hard questions – about the nature of today’s threats, and how we should confront them."

People shouldn't be confused by the facts about Al Qaeda: whether or not it
has any real power as an organization, the important thing is that the American
public remain scared. If you ever feel uncertain about whether you should feel
scared, just repeat the word "terrorism" until the fear comes back.

"But as Commander-in-Chief, I must weigh these heartbreaking tragedies against the alternatives. To do nothing in the face of terrorist networks would invite far more civilian casualties – not just in our cities at home and facilities abroad, but also in the very places –like Sana’a and Kabul and Mogadishu – where terrorists seek a foothold. Let us remember that the terrorists we are after target civilians, and the death toll from their acts of terrorism against Muslims dwarfs any estimate of civilian casualties from drone strikes."

Clearly, the American people are yearning for a strong leader - someone with
guts. That's how I know that, no matter how many fringe types object to drone
killing, my presidency just gets stronger every time I incinerate a few more Pakistanis.

"Our laws constrain the power of the President, even during wartime, and I have taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States."

Frankly, I'm really tired of people harping on the "Constitutional lawyer"
thing. Hasn't anyone seen "Bullworth"? All that "supremacy of the law" crap
goes out the window when you get elected! Didn't you know that?

"Going forward, I have asked my Administration to review proposals to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of warzones that go beyond our reporting to Congress. Each option has virtues in theory, but poses difficulties in practice. For example, the establishment of a special court to evaluate and authorize lethal action has the benefit of bringing a third branch of government into the process, but raises serious constitutional issues about presidential and judicial authority. Another idea that’s been suggested – the establishment of an independent oversight board in the executive branch – avoids those problems, but may introduce a layer of bureaucracy into national-security decision-making, without inspiring additional public confidence in the process. Despite these challenges, I look forward to actively engaging Congress to explore these – and other – options for increased oversight."

So, really, your choices come down to: (a) thinking for yourself and realizing
that you're being hoodwinked by the entire political class in America; or (b)
acquiescing in the craven desire to just be dominated by a handful of leaders
who dress in suits and talk in sententious voices.  Which do you REALLY want?
See? I told you ....

Thank you. God Bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

[Excerpts from speech by President Barack Obama
shown above in gray. Full text available on White House website.]

NEW: Obama on Drones: The Democrats Respond

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(See Being a Team Player for "Mr. Forceful": Obama and the Dems )

Even if the current Obama administration approach of releases were to succeed in bringing about the release of everyone at Guantanamo, it would not have begun to address the wrong that has been committed.

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(See Obama Didn't Invent Permawar. He Just Perfected It.)