Triangulating national security

UPDATE #2 MOre from Andy McCarthy on why bringing terrorists to the US is a bad idea.

UPDATE: Charles Krauthammer has a higher opinion of Obama than I do.

Today there is a post on Commentary’s blog that is so insightful and important that I will reproduce it here with a few thoughts of my own. Bill Clinton was famous for “triangulating” policy, splitting the difference between the Democrats, who hated free trade and welfare reform, and Republicans who hated his “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” compromise on gays in the military and his weakness on national security. The author of the post points out that national security itself has never been the subject of triangulation. Clinton’s weakness in responding to the repeated attacks on foreign soil by al Qeada was the consequence of his policy choices and advisors, like Anthony Lake. He doesn’t seem to have done it for electoral purposes alone although few Democrats had any appetite for adventures abroad.

Obama seems to be risking national security in his attempt to do the minimum necessary to protect the country and keep his leftist credentials intact. Here is the original piece in the NY Times.

As President Obama defends his national security strategy, he faces a daunting challenge. He must convince the country that it is in safe hands despite warnings to the contrary from the right, and at the same time persuade the skeptical left that it is enough to amend his predecessor’s approach rather than abandon it.

Arguably on the defensive over policy for the first time since taking office, Mr. Obama is gambling that his oratorical powers can reassure the public that bringing terrorism suspects to prisons on American soil will not put the public in danger.

At the same time, he must explain and win support for a nuanced set of positions that fall somewhere between George W. Bush and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Rather than an easily labeled program, Mr. Obama is picking seemingly disparate elements from across the policy continuum — banning torture and other harsh interrogation techniques but embracing the endless detention of certain terror suspects without trial, closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, but retaining the military commissions held there.

A caller to Hugh Hewitt’s show yesterday emphasized just how dangerous the policy of closing Guantanamo and incarcerating terrorists in US prisons will be. The caller is a corrections officer in a California prison. He explained the realities of the life of gang leaders in US prisons. They immediately declare themselves “pro per” or representing themselves in place of a court appointed lawyer. This gives them access to computers and allows meetings with all sorts of outsiders and other prisoners. Many large gangs are run from prison in this fashion. It will be immediately apparent to these jihadists that a “pro per” request will be the ticket to return to the battlefield, even while physically confined in a US prison.

This is exceedingly dangerous for all of us. And there is no excuse except politics for this action.

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