May 22, 2009

TWO AGAINST W:

Cheney Lost to Bush (DAVID BROOKS, 5/22/09, NY Times)

Cheney and Obama might pretend otherwise, but it wasn’t the Obama administration that halted the practice of waterboarding. It was a succession of C.I.A. directors starting in March 2003, even before a devastating report by the C.I.A. inspector general in 2004.

When Cheney lambastes the change in security policy, he’s not really attacking the Obama administration. He’s attacking the Bush administration. In his speech on Thursday, he repeated in public a lot of the same arguments he had been making within the Bush White House as the policy decisions went more and more the other way.

The inauguration of Barack Obama has simply not marked a dramatic shift in the substance of American anti-terror policy. It has marked a shift in the public credibility of that policy.

In the first place, it is absurd to say this administration doesn’t take terrorism seriously. Obama has embraced the Afghan surge, a strategy that was brewing at the end of the Bush years. He has stepped up drone activity in Pakistan. He has promoted aggressive counterinsurgency fighters and racked up domestic anti-terror accomplishments.

As for the treatment of terror suspects, Jack Goldsmith has a definitive piece called “The Cheney Fallacy” online at The New Republic. He lists a broad range of policies — Guantánamo, habeas corpus, military commissions, rendition, interrogation and so on. He shows how, in most cases, the Obama policy represents a continuation of or a gradual evolution from the final Bush policy.


The other fascinating link between Messrs Cheney and Obama is that they are both so resume driven, though the former seems a bit undone by the fact he's never going to get to top his with that final job title. Indeed, the only sensible explanation for his current campaign is that he's positioning himself to run in 2012.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 22, 2009 9:35 AM
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