The Hippie President
"Nothing else in Mr. Obama’s first term," Jo Becker and Scott Shane write in The New York Times, "has baffled liberal supporters and confounded conservative critics alike as his aggressive counterterrorism record." Current and former Obama advisers have told them of a "paradoxical leader" who
has followed the metastasizing enemy into new and dangerous lands. When he applies his lawyering skills to counterterrorism, it is usually to enable, not constrain, his ferocious campaign against Al Qaeda — even when it comes to killing an American cleric in Yemen, a decision that Mr. Obama told colleagues was “an easy one.”
Yet the administration’s very success at killing terrorism suspects has been shadowed by a suspicion: that Mr. Obama has avoided the complications of detention by deciding, in effect, to take no prisoners alive. While scores of suspects have been killed under Mr. Obama, only one has been taken into American custody, and the president has balked at adding new prisoners to Guantánamo.
“Their policy is to take out high-value targets, versus capturing high-value targets,” said Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the top Republican on the intelligence committee. “They are not going to advertise that, but that’s what they are doing.”
Administration officials deny such a policy exists and
The care that Mr. Obama and his counterterrorism chief take in choosing targets, and their reliance on a precision weapon, the drone, reflect his pledge at the outset of his presidency to reject what he called the Bush administration’s “false choice between our safety and our ideals.”
But he has found that war is a messy business, and his actions show that pursuing an enemy unbound by rules has required moral, legal and practical trade-offs that his speeches did not envision.
Becker and Shane note additionally of the President's policy "No one would have imagined four years ago that his counterterrorism policies would come under far more fierce attack from the American Civil Liberties Union than from Mr. Romney."
But there is one Republican who apparently believes all this qualifies President Obama as a modern-day, misguided Gandhi. Yesterday, Rush Limbaugh stated (video, from Media Matters, below)
Well, let me tell you something. There is no question that the hands of our military are tied. We've heard of about these rules of engagement many previous occasions in Afghanistan. It's what happens when you got a pacifist as president, when you have somebody who believes that the United States is to blame and in fact deserves some of this stuff and that we can't display superpower status. We can't project power.
Rendition, military commissions, and indefinite detention all have been retained by Barack Obama. But the real problem, according to the nation's top radio talk show host, is that he just hasn't killed enough Muslims.