Last year Amnesty International demanded Bush’s arrest for ordering the capture and interrogation of senior terrorist leaders, after which they were sent (alive) to Guantanamo Bay for trial. Well according to the Times, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president ordered drone strikes that use cluster bombs and have allegedly killed not only their intended targets but also “neighboring families.” Why isn’t Amnesty demanding Obama’s arrest for war crimes?
The fact is, with the critically important exception of terrorist interrogation, Obama has embraced nearly all of Bush’s major counterterrorism policies. Rendition continues. Indefinite detention continues. The trial of terrorists by military commission continues. The National Security Agency’s “warrantless wiretapping” of terrorist communications continues. While Obama shut down the CIA interrogation program, he gladly used the intelligence it produced to find and kill Osama bin Laden. Instead of seeking congressional authorization to kill American-born terrorists with drones, Obama has instead relied on secret Justice Department memos. And while Obama disclosed Bush’s secret interrogation memos, he has steadfastly refused to make his own secret drone memos public.
Marc A. Thiessen
A fellow with the American Enterprise Institute, Thiessen writes a weekly column for The Post.
Even the current pace of drone strikes is virtually unchanged from the pace set by Bush in the final six months of his administration. Obama has not escalated these strikes, as many suggest -- he simply continued the escalation Bush put in place before leaving office.
Indeed, the only changes Obama seems to have made to the drone campaign is that he took personal control of targeting decisions that Bush had left to experts in the intelligence community; gave his top political strategist, David Axelrod, a seat at the table where life or death decisions are made; and leaked the classified details of his policy to the New York Times so he could “spike the football” once again.
Most conservatives support Obama’s drone strategy. And apparently so do most liberals. A Post poll earlier this year found that 77 percent of self-described liberals support drone strikes, and 55 percent approve even if the targets are American citizens. This may be the greatest bipartisan achievement of Obama’s presidency: He has secured broad liberal support for the key elements of the Bush doctrine. That is an accomplishment that was unthinkable when Bush was in office — and one I suspect Obama will leave out of his remarks at the White House today.