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Monday, May 9, 2011

The Sublime and the Ridiculous

“Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice. And moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue." — Barry Goldwater

While perusing the Internet I came upon some articles and columns that I would classify as sublime and others that are absolutely ridiculous. You can make the call.

“The White House converted a picture-perfect military operation into a public-relations disaster that will be cited as what not to do and how not to do it in flackery textbooks for a hundred years. Days after the raid on Osama bin Laden's 'mansion' they still can't get the 'fact pattern,' in the language of the White House, even close to straight. Even that ubiquitous photograph of the president, the secretary of state and assorted minions bravely watching the operation in 'real time' looks now to have been a 'photo-op' taken after the fact. ... [T]he real offense of the Washington wimpery is pushing a weakling's canard against the military, asserting that the photograph [of Osama's dead body] can't be shown because it would make Muslim terrorists cross at us. But surely the Army and the Navy can take care of themselves; soldiers, sailors and Marines aren't Campfire Girls. Can anyone imagine FDR and his generals canceling D-Day because an invasion might infuriate the Germans? Or that a Muslim terrorist will now salute an American soldier in Afghanistan and put down his rifle and grenade launcher, telling him 'we really appreciate your president's keeping that ugly photograph to himself.' Americans come from Mars, so the witticism goes, and Europeans are from Venus. But that doesn't include this president and his bungling minions. They're weepy refugees from Pluto." --Washington Times editor emeritus Wesley Pruden

“U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday the United States would close the Guantanamo Bay facility holding terrorism suspects in Cuba, despite missing a previous deadline to do so. On an official visit to Paris, Holder stressed what he called unprecedented intelligence-sharing ties between France and the United States against a united enemy, al Qaeda, that he said still held the two countries and its allies in its sights. The recent killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was unlikely to affect the timing of the closure of the Guantanamo facility, Holder said. "Although we have not closed Guantanamo within the time period that we initially indicated ... it is still the intention of the president, and it is still my intention, to close the facility that exists in Guantanamo," Holder told a joint news briefing with French Interior Minister Claude Gueant. "We think that by closing that facility the national security of the United States will be enhanced," he added.” Newsmax.

"When it began to leak that America had finally found and killed Osama bin Laden, there was joy from sea to shining sea. ... But for most, it wasn't jubilation. It was the silent fist pump and a silent prayer of thanksgiving for the safety of our extraordinary military. ... Unfortunately, while the president spoke for the whole country in remembering the pain of 9/11, his remarks left a gaping hole. He made no generous bow to all the efforts of his predecessor George W. Bush, as well as his team. My one regret is that Bush 43 didn't get this scalp. He deserved it more than anyone. Instead, Obama played subtle and wholly undignified games. He underlined that Osama had 'avoided capture' under Bush and 'continued to operate' during his tenure. But 'I directed' CIA director Leon Panetta to make getting Osama the 'top priority' (as opposed to?), and 'I' gave the go-ahead to the final mission. ... Even in a Monday night 'bipartisan' event at the White House, Obama honored the 'military and counterterrorism professionals' and 'the members of Congress from both parties' who offered support to the mission ... but no credit for Bush. If the roles had been reversed, you know Bush would have been more generous. It's what Bushes do." --columnist L. Brent Bozell

"The Bush antiterrorism protocols -- tribunals, renditions, preventative detentions, Predator assassination missions, Guantanamo Bay -- were decried as illegal and immoral. Such furor vanished, however, when President Obama embraced or expanded them all. The effort to preemptively remove the mass-murdering Saddam Hussein to foster democracy in his absence was seen by many in the media, universities and legal community as morally wrong -- and yet preemptively bombing Gadhafi to foster democracy in his absence is now considered morally justified. ... Had we gone into Pakistani territory and landed in the wrong compound, legal and ethical issues would have been raised. If we keep killing members of the Gadhafi family without hitting Gadhafi himself, at some point the denial of targeted assassination will seem empty. Targeted assassinations apparently have to work on the first or second attempt to be deemed moral and legal. In recent years the United States has been in a number of undeclared wars against terrorists, insurgents and authoritarian dictators -- Mohamed Farrah Aidid, Saddam Hussein, Osama bin Laden, Slobodan Milosevic, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Manuel Noriega, Mullah Omar, Muammar Gadhafi, the Taliban, al-Qaeda and others -- whom we sought to kill, capture or put on trial. It is about time that we clarified the rules that determine their fates." --historian Victor Davis Hanson

“You see, the President of the United States is, first and foremost, the leader of a team. That’s why we generally look for proven leaders to do the job - people who have led others and run things have a sense not only of how you make things happen as President, but how to handle successes and failures that depend on those working beneath them. As the football saying goes, when you get to the end zone, know how to act like you’ve been there before. Presidents invariably get both more credit and more blame than they deserve - as Harry Truman loved to say, “the buck stops here” - and they can’t always control the people under them; Truman also famously remarked of his successor, Dwight Eisenhower, “Poor Ike. It won’t be a bit like the Army. He’ll sit here and he’ll say, ‘Do this, do that,’ and nothing will happen.” Dan McLaughlin, Red States

“The official White House account of Osama bin Laden's demise has seen more slapdash cosmetic surgery over the past week than your average "Real Housewives" reality-show star. President Obama's allies attribute the bungled "narrative" (their word, not mine) to the "Fog of War." But each passing day -- and each new set of hapless revisions -- shows that what really ails the administration is the Fog of Fog.” Michelle Malkin, Human Events.

“After campaigning vigorously against President Bush’s terror policies, Barack Obama continued a good many of them after assuming the presidency. To those policies, along with the Navy SEALS who entered the Abbottabad compound, go the credit for the long-awaited, bullet-to-the-head takedown of Osama bin Laden. Here are the Top 10 Bush Terror Policies Continued by Obama.” Human Events

“Three days after the spectacular mission by Navy SEALS that finished Osama bin Laden, two top administration officials were offering somewhat differing views as to whether enhanced interrogation techniques were key to hunting down the most wanted man in the world. CIA Director Leon Panetta hinted strongly that they were on Tuesday, but on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was not willing to be so specific about the value of the techniques used to gather information from terrorist detainees under the Bush administration. Asked by NBC-TV’s Brian Williams about the information obtained from detainees that led to the bin Laden takedown, Panetta replied: ‘We had multiple series of sources that provided information with regards to this situation. … Clearly some of it came from detainees [and] they used these enhanced interrogation techniques against some of those detainees.” When Williams asked whether "waterboarding" was one of those techniques, Panetta replied: “That’s correct.” John Gizzi, Human Events.

“While we may not know all the details about and behind this operation, it's fascinating to see how many of the things that made the success of this operation possible were not so long ago decried by many of the president's fans and fellow partisans. For one thing, it apparently would not have happened without those infamous enhanced interrogation techniques -- "torture," according to critics of the Bush administration. The enhanced interrogation techniques reportedly led to identification of the courier who eventually led our forces to bin Laden's hiding place. Critics of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques assured us that "torture" could not produce reliable information. They were probably right that sometimes such techniques yield false information. But the bin Laden operation shows that they can also produce actionable intelligence.” Michael Barone.

Good evening. I’m Chris Matthews in Washington. Leading off tonight: Never been better. That’s bin Laden of course. Best week ever, I’d say, for the country. President Obama is coming off the best week of his presidency, certainly. Osama bin Laden’s been got, the economy’s creating jobs, the Republicans look, let’s face it, less and less able to find a presidential hopeful to even give a uniform to, much less put out there on the field. And all that is giving the president a boost in the polls. Our new tonight NBC News/"Wall Street Journal" poll has the president’s job approval up to 52 percent -- it’s tough to get higher these days -- with just 41 percent disapproving. But that’s our top story tonight. Chris Matthews, MSNBC

CBS Omits Waterboarding, Other Key Issues From Obama Interview. On Sunday's 60 Minutes, CBS's Steve Kroft failed to bring up key issues related to the killing of Osama bin Laden during an interview of President Obama, such as the enhanced interrogation of captured al Qaeda leaders which provided the first intelligence that ultimately lead to the Navy SEAL raid in Pakistan. Kroft set the overall tone of his interview, which he conducted on Wednesday, by tossing a softball in his lead question to Obama: "Mr. President, was this the most satisfying week of your presidency?" After the chief executive gave his initial answer, the journalist followed up by asking, "Was the decision to launch this attack the most difficult decision that you've made as commander-in-chief? Later, the correspondent waxed ecstatic about the President's full schedule as final preparations were being made for the assault on the al Qaeda leader's compound. Matthew Balan, NewsBusters.

“London's Daily Mail reports "Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski has revealed she almost quit the show after just a year because she was earning far less than her male colleagues. The 44-year-old said she discovered she took home 14 times less than co-host Joe Scarborough - so little she struggled to make ends meet." Make ends meet? As if Mika Brzezinski lives in a tiny old apartment and eats Ramen noodles? She insisted: "After child care, on-air wardrobe, makeup, travel, and the other ridiculous expenses that women in this business end up taking on, the job was actually costing me more than I was being paid." When Willie Geist asked her why she didn't walk away, she replied simply: "We fixed it." She has a new book out about negotiating compensation called Knowing Your Value.” Tim Graham, London Daily Mail.

“Our nation’s leaders made the difficult decision to use coercive interrogation methods to learn as quickly as possible what hardened al-Qaeda operatives knew in the immediate months after 9/11. Knowledgeable officials expected that al-Qaeda would try again — soon — and in a more devastating fashion. Several plots were foiled and last week we finally killed al-Qaeda’s leader. This was not the result of luck — it is due to the hard work of members of the military and our intelligence agencies. Their reward has been an open-ended investigation and the disturbing reopening of cases closed by career prosecutors. Others have written about the financial ruin in store for agents and analysts whose focus will shift from the enemy to their legal bills. What has been less well understood is what the investigation will do to the CIA as an institution at a time when it serves as the nation’s eyes and ears and, sometimes, the sword and shield, during war against a shadowy, covert enemy. If you are being prosecuted for pushing the envelope at the orders of your political leadership, you will not just think twice next time — you might instead refuse or leave the agency.” John Yoo, National Review Online.

“President Obama insisted that the assault force hunting down Osama bin Laden last week be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops, senior administration and military officials said Monday. In revealing additional details about planning for the mission, senior officials also said that two teams of specialists were on standby: One to bury Bin Laden if he was killed, and a second composed of lawyers, interrogators and translators in case he was captured alive. That team was set to meet aboard a Navy ship, mostly likely the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson in the North Arabian Sea. Mr. Obama's decision to increase the size of the force sent into Pakistan shows that he was willing to risk a military confrontation with a close ally in order to capture or kill the leader of Al Qaeda.” New York Times

“In 2004, Mr. Holder chose to file an amicus brief on behalf of Jose Padilla, the al-Qaeda terrorist sent to our country by bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to carry out a post-9/11 second wave of attacks. In the brief, Holder argued that a commander-in-chief lacks the constitutional authority to do what his boss, the current commander-in-chief, has just done: determine the parameters of the battlefield. By Holder’s lights — at least when the president is not named Obama — an al-Qaeda terrorist must be treated as a criminal defendant, not an enemy combatant, unless he is encountered on a traditional battlefield. It would be useful if staffers at congressional oversight hearings passed around copies of Holder’s Padilla brief. It is a comprehensive attack on Bush counterterrorism, an enthusiastic endorsement of the law-enforcement approach in vogue during the Clinton era (when Holder was deputy attorney general under Janet Reno, who also signed on to the Padilla brief). This might explain why Holder sometimes has difficulty answering seemingly easy questions. That’s what happened this week, when the Senate Judiciary Committee quizzed the attorney general on the lawfulness of the U.S. military’s targeted killing of bin Laden.” Andrew C. McCarthy.

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