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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

President Barack Obama outlined new regulations for drone strikes and reiterated his desire to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay in a wide-ranging speech about the future of American national security.

President Obama’s speech, which was delivered at National Defense University in Washington, D.C., examined how the United States can replace the post-9/11 mentality that has dominated the War on Terror with a more holistic, comprehensive national defense strategy that will allow the United States “to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual wartime footing.” To that end, Obama called for targeted action against terrorists, increased diplomatic engagement and foreign aid programs, and the shuttering of Guantánamo.

The president strongly defended his administration’s use of targeted drone strikes, citing the words of al Qaeda leaders — including Osama bin Laden — to make the case that “our actions are effective.”

“Simply put, these strikes have saved lives,” Obama said.

Obama also directly confronted criticisms over the civilian casualties associated with the controversial program. While he insisted that “for me, and those in my chain of command, these deaths will haunt us as long as we live,” he also urged Americans to consider the extreme costs of deploying American troops abroad or letting terrorists go unchecked.

“By narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us, and not the people they hide among, we are choosing the course of action least likely to result in the loss of innocent life,” Obama insisted.

The president pushed back against the notion that the drone strike program is unconstitutional, saying “America’s actions are legal” under the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorists (AUMF) joint resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001. He also pointed out that “I’ve insisted on strong oversight of all lethal action” since becoming president, noting that the White House has briefed Congress on every drone strike carried out during his administration. Still, he acknowledged that greater oversight is needed in the future.

“Going forward, I have asked my administration to review proposals” including the creation of a special court or independent oversight board “to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of war zones that go beyond our reporting to Congress,” Obama said.

Obama also pushed back against those who have suggested that the president could use drones at will within the United States, saying, “For the record, I do not believe it would be Constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen – with a drone, or a shotgun – without due process.” He did carve out an exception for terrorists such as Anwar al-Awlaki, however, saying “When a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America” and is in a position where the United States cannot capture him alive, “his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a SWAT team.”

The president dedicated a large portion of his speech to making the case for closing the detention center at Guantánamo Bay – a campaign promise from 2008 that has so far gone unfulfilled. Calling the facility a “glaring exception” to America’s record of prosecuting terrorists whenever possible, Obama declared that “there is no justification beyond politics for Congress to prevent us from closing a facility that should never have been opened.”

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Copyright 2013 The National Memo
  • The physical occupation of other countries, particularly countries that were not directly involved in 9/11 and other terrorist attacks against the USA, should come to and end and, hopefully, will never happen again. However, the War on Terror, if we interpret that metaphor as our efforts to contain or minimize the probability of terrorist attacks against us and our allies must continue as long as there are people determined to do us harm. The terrorist attacks that have taken place during the last three or four decades are not an illusion, they were real and they brought tremendous pain to the families of those slained by people whose hatred of American values and goal is so intense that they are willing whatever they can to hurt us.
    Having said that, we should also focus on the root causes for the hatred. If we know that we are not welcome somewhere and that our presence is offensive to the sensibilities of other people, why do we insist on being there? We must remain vigilant, but we must also avoid offending other countries and denying others what is so important to us: freedom.

    • RobertCHastings

      Well said, Dominick. The United States can no longer continue as policeman of the world, especially if our goals, as established during the George W. Bush administration, consisted of American hegemony. Democracy is an experiment that is still going through trial and error testing and refining, and those parts of this experiment that we have managed to come close to perfecting should be ready for exportation. However, I think many will agree that we have not reached that point yet in any aspect of our Democracy. All too many people are still discriminated against because of their “otherness”; all too many are denied the right to vote; all too many are incarcerated or criminally prosecuted because they cannot afford adequate defense; all too many are daily killed on our streets simply because powerful groups are able to override the expressed will of the people. If you lived somewhere other than the US, would you want their political system imported into your country, especially if you understood how seriously flawed it is?

      • I spent 30 years abroad, much of it living like a native. I can tell you, with absolute certainty, that what most people in other countries want is respect, the ability to choose their own leaders and form of government, they want to preserve their culture and traditions and, above all, they are willing to fight and die to preserve their sovereignty.

        That should not be mistaken with anti-Americanism. Many love and envy our freedoms and the rights we enjoy. They love our way of life, and they wish they could have even a semblance of the prosperity we so readily dismiss.

        We have to go no further than evaluating trivial things such as the success of our music, movies, and dress code overseas to understand that rather than dealing with enemies we are dealing with people whose aspirations are not that different from ours.

        Obviously, this does not apply to terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda, whose members are so radicalized that they can’t even conceive the value of peaceful coexistence and civilized dialogue to address the issues that are important to them.

        • rothgar

          I gotta say that what you’ve described:

          “what most people in other countries want is respect, the ability to choose their own leaders and form of government, they want to preserve their culture and traditions and, above all, they are willing to fight and die to preserve their sovereignty”

          sounds like the words and feelings of the Colonists – classically American.

          Geez those words would fit pretty well in a Letter of Correspondence such was what the Colonials were using to organize our resistance to the predations of George III.

        • angelsinca

          ” we are dealing with people whose aspirations are not that different from ours”

          …and then they mature and ideologies get in the way.

          • That is true, but that should always be their right to decide, not ours to impose.

          • angelsinca

            ” that should always be their right to decide”

            Agree 100%…especially when the philosophy is equally and fairly employed, abroad and domestically.

        • angelsinca

          “…they want to preserve their culture and traditions…”

          When people lose their culture and traditions, they’ve lost freedom. When Americans protest the loss, they are ridiculed as conservatives, republicans, and Christians. Americans are in no position to determine the needs of humanity when we can’t even be mindful and respectful of our own.

        • John Pigg

          What nations have you been an expat in?

          • Mostly Venezuela, Spain, and the UK. I also visited several countries for short periods of time. Gen Perez Jimenez was in power during my stay in Venezuela, and Generalisimo Franco was in power during my stay in Spain. I was in Venezuela during the transition from totalitarianism to democracy.

          • John Pigg

            Fascinating, currently in the ROK, but I should be in France for the next couple of years.

            Haven’t heard of Franco in a while…..

      • Garry Owen Ault

        Though these actions were instituted by Bush and Darth Vader. However, the Corporations were throwing money at Congress back then
        because that was the time that Corporations were brought to the Front
        Literally. First time we had actual United States civilian Semi Military units on the Ground in Foreign Countries. And the Federal Government was giving out contracts for such like it was a Permanent Corporation give away.

    • AdamMos

      I believe that as the wars wind down in Iraq and Afghanistan we will see more jahid like terrorist incidents on our soil and in Europe. I think one of the few benefits of these wars is that it kept these terrorists off our soil. We gave them a theatre to kill Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am in no saying we should not the end these wars – I am just making an observation.
      I think our President has made the right moves by lessening our footprint in the Middle East. The Right refers to this an apology tour – I see it as making us less feared and hated and more liked and respected in the middle east. It will take time but Obama is undoing a lot of damage.

    • Fern Woodfork

      You Got That Right My Friend Very Well Said!! 🙂

    • docb

      I have spent a great deal of time working and traveling abroad which gives me a certain perspective on people and our interaction with them. They want the same things we do..respect for them and their culture, common courtesy, interest in them and the good sense to neither threaten or negate them. They also adore having us interested in and curious about their country.! Most of the threats we have from others originate from the same ignorance we experience from those in this country who are ignorant and intolerant and violent in the face of their fears!

      Do we forget that we invaded and decimated TWO countries and their architecture and cultures, displacing and killing millions to this day. Many in the US brand all these people of the ME as Terrorist but they are not. Any more than All Americans are white supremacists !

  • ObozoMustGo

    Big talk, but let’s see if he can back up his mouth with actions and get all our men back from that hell hole called the Middle East.

    Regarding drones — It’s much more humane to use drones to kill terrorists than it is to give them luxury accomodations on a tropical island and interrogate them to get more information out of them… now that would be torture…. can’t have that…. better to kill them and any others in their vicinity. That’s not torture. Maybe once Obozo turns off his drones in the middle east, he’ll have more of them to fly around America and target conservatives like Tea Party events.

    Have a nice weekend!

    “There are two things which a democratic people will always find very difficult – to begin a war and to end it.” ― Alexis de Tocqueville

    • gdhjdd

      dumb dumb dumb

    • jimgordo1

      Obozo, you took an apt handle! You really are a bozo. I take it that you believe Rushie Boy and Becky boy speak gospel as does Ms. Bachman. As for terrorists getting “luxury accommodations on a tropical island,” what have you been smoking? I take that back, you’ve probably been watching Fox News Channel, reading the Washington Times or similar gossip sheets.
      As far as “have more of them to fly around America and target conservatives like Tea Party events,” you evidently missed his speech where he said it was unconstitutional to target “drones or even shotguns” within the U.S. Get real. fella — cancel your subscription to those right wing rags, your membership in the Tea Party, stop watching Fox News Channel and get your head out of your nether regions. After that, you might be eligible for membership in the human race!

  • RobertCHastings

    There are plenty of Federal prison facilities around the country which could be used for the housing of those now detained at Guantanamo, as well a jails on military bases. My issue with trying them in tribunals is the level of fairness with which they will be treated as many things that civilians take for granted in the criminal courts simply are not adhered to in Military tribunals. The dozens of those at Guantanamo who have been there for some period of time without even being charged present to the world a contradiction to our laws that require a speedy and fair trial. Conscientious Americans should insist if these people are not charged, they should be released, immediately. If the government has not in the 12 years since 9/11 been able to mount a prosecution against these people, I find it hard to believe that we have neither violated our own laws or at least the provisions of some treaties to which we are a party.

    • whodatbob

      I agree they should get a timely trial, but in a military tribunal. As for those who refuse to eat, do not feed them stop the tubes.

      • Garry Owen Ault

        Why not just install Posts, ship blindfolds to Gitmo, and use a Firing Squad to take care of the problem. Most assuredly, that is a bit more
        humane than letting them starve to death, but it is also not something
        the United State I grew up in would do. Whodatbob your idea is not only
        rather insane, it certainly does not reflect WWJCD!

      • RobertCHastings

        I agree with the timely trial, and this is guaranteed by the Constitution. It would be inhumane to let them starve, or basically cause them to starve through neglect, which we do, in some cases, permit for those in the last stages of life. Unfortunately, many states still do not allow assisted suicide, or suicide by doctor.

    • jimgordo1

      Robert — Many of those at Gitmo who haven’t been charged can’t be released. Their home countries won’t accept them and they can’t be exported to other countries because those countries won’t accept them either. The only other alternative is to release them in the U.S. Unfortunately that is also impossible because they have no desire to live in the U.S, they simply want to go home, which is impossible. Additionally, some of them are radicals which is why their own countries don’t want them and also why third party countries won’t either.

      • RobertCHastings

        The ones who have not been charged, which is still in the neighborhood of thirty or so, have been at Gitmo already for as long as many people in this country would have served for a conviction of second-degree murder. These folks have not even been charged, let alone tried or convicted or sentenced or come up for parole. If the government cannot come up with a charge, these people must be released, or all that crap about our Democracy that we used to justify Iraq and Afghanistan is just that -crap. A Constitutional Democracy survives or fails based upon how well it lives up to its own ideals, as codified in its Constitution.

  • Betta

    “Simply put, these strikes have saved lives,” Obama said.

    You also took innocent lives, Barry. There’s blood on your hands.

    “Going forward, I have asked my administration to review proposals” including the creation of a special court or independent oversight board “to extend oversight of lethal actions outside of war zones that go beyond our reporting to Congress,” Obama said.”

    Aaaah yes, there it is. Spend, Spend, Spend and Spend some more. Lets grow an already bloated government even BIGGER! That ALWAYS solves things doesn’t it, Barry. Oh, Barry. You’re so funny my sides are hurting.

    ““For the record, I do not believe it would be Constitutional for the government to target and kill any U.S. citizen – with a drone, or a shotgun – without due process….”

    I didn’t bother copy/pasting the rest of your drivel, Barry because I can see the funny way you worded that sentence. Did you do that on purpose, Barry?

    People will mistakenly think you said that it would be unconstitutional to do that. But that’s not what you said at all, is it Barry? I detect you are telling LIES, Barry. My gosh you’re good at that. Hard to stop when you got a good thang going isn’t it, Barry.

    “When a U.S. citizen goes abroad to wage war against America” and is in a position where the United States cannot capture him alive, “his citizenship should no more serve as a shield than a sniper shooting down on an innocent crowd should be protected from a SWAT team.”

    Yes, I see you’re thinking ahead, aren’t you, Barry. You have taken great care to mention the guy you murdered without his due process as an American. You took away his rights, Barry. See, Barry, you don’t get to decide when it is appropriate to take a person’s rights away. Our Constitution protects against that. No matter what he did, the Constitution protects his right to due process as an American. You don’t get to choose otherwise, Barry.

    Oh, Barry and this is another good one you just told. WOW, man! “…in a position where the United States cannot capture him alive.”

    Whut, Barry? Couldn’t capture him alive, Barry? Well, ya don’t say. If that’s true then how did we manage to catch Saddam and your best bud bin-Laden alive? At least you said bin-laden was alive when you took credit for finding and killing him. Could that have been another LIE, Barry? I heard bin-laden died years ago. I just don’t know what to believe any more, Barry. I just don’t know.

    • Sand_Cat

      Name one world leader without blood on his or her hands.

      • oldtack

        Might be some but I doubt it.

      • Betta

        Weak argument there Sand_Cat. Is that all you got? I’m sure you got my point.

    • RobertCHastings

      As he also said, not from the standpoint of Constitutional correctness, but from the standpoint of reasonableness, once an American leaves this country and engages in activities and joins groups whose avowed purpose is to kill Americans, his protection under American law no longer exists. In other words, terrorists like Awlaki have effectively renounced their American citizenship once they begin to prosecute a covert war against Americans. His caveat is that these people are among those who have left this country to practice their hatred for America overseas. Were he not to include this caveat, the door would be left open to pursue terrorists on American soil, like Timothy McVeigh, or any number of neo-Nazi or white-supremacist groups. While these people are subject to domestic surveillance, they are not (yet) targeted by drones.

    • charleo1

      Did you ever consider, the more one knows, the more complicated
      the world becomes? If an American citizen brings his assault weapon
      into a classroom, and starts shooting at the students. What Constitutional
      Rights of his, do you think we need to protect? What if he had shot twice,
      but missed? Does it matter? What if the Police show up, and shoot him
      dead, to stop him? Was the Police action Constitutional? Remember, he
      hadn’t shot a student, yet. Do you think the Police, in the interests of
      protecting the gunman’s Rights, should wait until he takes a life, before
      their actions could be justified? If in trying to prevent the deaths of the
      students, the Policeman shoots at the offender, but misses, and a child
      is unintentionally killed? Does that Officer, have the blood of an innocent
      on his hands? Well, that’s your contention, in the President’s case.
      Is it not? Al Waki was a citizen, who sent two men to this Country to kill
      Americans. The, so called underwear bomber, and the Times Square
      bomber. Did the fact that both attempts were unsuccessful, and no
      Americans died, mean the President acted too hastily? Al Waki was no
      different than the Sandy Hook killer Or, do you see a traitor, plotting
      from another Country, to kill innocents, in America, more worthy,
      somehow/ Or, you really hadn’t thought Much about it.
      But, President Obama made an important speech. And you felt as
      though, you must rush to condemn whatever he said?

  • charleo1

    I was shocked upon learning the Republicans were, “troubled,” “concerned,”
    “baffled,” and so on, this morning, over President Obama’s speech on the war
    on terrorism. Including, the controversial drone program, and closing the prison
    compound, at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Saying it never should have been built.
    Pointing out it was excessively expensive. Wholly, unnecessary. a blot on the
    reputation of the Country. And blamed partisan politics, as the only reason it
    was still open. And he was absolutely correct, on all five points. He also alluded
    to the fact, that several of the detainees were dangerous people. But their
    prosecution was problematic, because of the way evidence was obtained.
    But, said he felt sure solutions could found for this small group. Obama,
    throughout, showed a complete understanding of where the Country is, how we
    got here, and, the direction he believes the Country needs to go. And what
    those that actually listen to this President, have come to expect. Logical, and
    reasonable, fact based, reasons for after 12 years of constant war. The Country,
    while ever on guard, can, and must, return to normalcy. It was a speech
    that needed to be made. And, Obama has proven he is a leader we can trust.
    And, we would do well, to heed his advise. As America’s longest war, can finally
    be brought to a close.

  • m8lsem

    The issue is the use of force against enemies of our country, some of which enemies are citizens of the US, Al-Awlaki for example. The issue is complicated by the fact that the enemy is not a country, but rather an amalgam of radicals of many nationalities who are allied in Al Qaeda and like organizations. They are Muslims of a minority, radical sect.

    Were such enemy a country that had launched an attack like 9/11, we would have declared war on it; our armed forces would have invaded it; and the struggle would proceed as in the case of past wars. Artillery, aerial bombing, and machine gun fire do horrendous damage to the innocent bystanders. (Look at an image of a German city after it was overrun by the Allies in World War II.) In such a case, ‘collateral damage’ to people and property would make a drone strike look positively harmless — if we could have devised such a tool for use in WW II combat that could do the same en masse to snipers and soldiers in civilian-populated areas, we would have been hailed as extraordinarily merciful.

    But the enemy is amorphous, is not all gathered in one place or country to the exclusion of others who are not enemies.

    Either we make no attack on this enemy, even though they attack us, or the use of drones must be regarded as next to nothing. Alternatives, such as investigation and arrest, are simply unavailable. Terrorists frequent places and regions that are not governable by the country in which located, such as where their ‘civilian’ community is not hostile to what they do elsewhere and is politically active (which is why Pakistan gave us SECRET consent to use drones). And Yemen, for another example, simply has no effective central government.

    So either we use drones, or we take no action.

  • Charvi3

    First of all…I talked to a man…that fought in the Vietnam War…and he helped to design the drones…I loved talking to him…and he said they were winning the war and then the politicians stepped in…the drones were working great…and just think that our enemy were cutting the private parts of a man off and many other parts of their body….so, why is it wrong to use those drones on these sadistic…the Taliban and the Al-Aqueda…they are going throughout the world…wanting to take over and destroy a lot of their own people as well…and little children as well…so, I am for them…and I am so glad that, Obama is standing his ground…plus, he is and was a Constitutional Lawyer…he knows it because he taught it…and the 16th amendment says the rich should have to pay taxes as well as the middle class…and see how many years…dear Bush let them off…what ashame..all of the burden was on the middle class…and if they were paying taxes we would not have such a deficit…would we? no…and Rick Perry still giving tax cuts to the big businesses and the small businesses and taking away from the doing away with medicaid….let the federal government pay for it…it will hardly costs anything…I just wish…and I am still praying that more republicans see the light and are caught at frauding the system like dear Michelle…they need to catch more of them…and our President has to go through Congress who rules…just think if he had it easy like Bill Clinton did with the all Democratic Congress….he didn’t need a republican vote…it sure would be a lot easier for him to get his agenda put into place.