The President’s National Security Advisor declared in an interview with ABC that Obama’s counterterrorism policy has already proven far more effective than that of his predecessor. I certainly hope that’s true. I pray its true. But….I have to admit the comment seems to defy logic. Experts know that the “stuff” that really gets terrorists is the hard slog…investigations, hunting them down, colating intelligence, penetrating organizations.
So let me get be clear on this. Are we supposed to believe that the new administration walked in the door….and without even having most of its political appointments on board… not only forged broad new policies and programs and implemented them, but also, in just six months, have had time to analyze them and analytically demonstrate that they are more effective? You know what, after working in the military for 25 years and spending a decade watching how Washington works. I just don’t believe it.
For example, since we no longer have secret detention facilities (that’s counter to administration policy) and since the administration has not announced the capture or interrogation of any new high value targets, it is not clear what the US has done. The Pakistani’s have reported picking up some high ranking Taliban thugs. Is the administration taking credit for that?
Now, there are some pretty clear areas where we do see the new administration being very effective. The most obvious is Predator strikes in Pakistan (using unmanned vehicles to fly over the border, spot high-value terrorist targets and take them out with a small missile). The Obama administration is doing more and more effective Predator strikes. But, we also know that has nothing to do with politics. The Pentagon and CIA have spent years putting the intelligence and infrastructure together to do these strikes. In this case, Obama is building on Bush policies…not supplanting them.
Here is what I am worried about. I’m worried that the National Security Advisor is making a “political” statement to take the heat off the administration for the Justice Department probe on the CIA. If that is true…that’s sad…because there is no faster path to destroying credibility than playing fast with the facts about national security.
Its a really bad idea to make national security about “us” (being this administration) vs “them” (the last administration). To his credit, President Bush never thought it was appropriate to put the Clinton administration on trial for the shortfalls that led to 9/11. Finger pointing in the fox hole doesn’t get you very far.
Americans want this President to be successful in the fight against transnational terrorism. After all, that’s the president’s job. Americans also understand its a long war and it will take time.
Americans also want to be told the honest truth….and they don’t like politics mixed in when the lives of their families are on the line.