Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Is President Obama Clueless on National Security?

The new President has shown little interest when it comes to national security issues. And it ain't just the pressing issues having to do with the collapsing economy. And he doesn't seem to have many answers on that front either. But appointing a lobbyist to run the Pentagon raises serious questions about the President's commitment to change in Washington. But Lyon was only a tip of the iceberg. Previously, Mr.Obama had picked a political hack, Leon Panetta, as the new CIA Director. He kept Bush's Secretary of Defense. He chose another political hack, Hillary Clinton, as the Secretary of State. This suggests to me that we have a President who is willing to politicize national defense, much like his disastrous predecessor. And lets not forget what happened with Bush: 9-11 happened. And let's not forget that Clinton faced a World Trade Center attack just weeks into his presidency. Given this President's lack of national defense expertise, we expect another major attack on America:

The Senate voted 93 to 4 on Wednesday to confirm William J. Lynn III as deputy defense secretary, which will put a former military lobbyist in charge of day-to-day operations at the Pentagon.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, meeting in closed session, approved without opposition the nomination of Leon E. Panetta to head the Central Intelligence Agency, a committee spokesman, Philip LaVelle, said.

Mr. Panetta, a former congressman who was chief of staff for President Bill Clinton, has no direct intelligence-gathering or analysis experience. Mr. Obama said he was selected because of his managerial skills and ability to repair the agency’s relationship with Congress.

Not to mention the Obama administration's backsliding on his opposition to the fascist tactics of George W.:
Bad news today for people who were hoping that Barack Obama would roll back some of the imperial executive which Bush, Cheney and their wacky legal theorists built over the last eight years. The new administration's lawyers picked up a questionable legal theory from the old administration, that national security trumps due process of law.

The issue came up Monday in a court case where five former detainees are suing for Boeing helping with the Bush administration's "extraordinary rendition" program. The Bush administration had argued that the case should be dismissed because, as today's New York Times puts it, "even discussing it in court could threaten national security and relations with other nations."

Candidate Obama was rather critical of extraordinary renditions. So the judges hearing the case on Monday were a bit taken aback when governmental lawyer Douglas Letter declined an opportunity to change the government's argument in the case.

And he certainly doesn't know what to do with Afghanistan. A knowledgeable analyst of the war in that country would tell the new President that there is no winning there. But Barack will remain in Afghanistan because it is too political sensitive for the President to pull out. We will remain in a quagmire for years to come because Mr.Obama doesn't want to be soft on terror. Just like JFK didn't want to be seen as soft on Communism when escalated our involvement in Vietnam.
President Obama is facing a choice on whether to grant commanders’ requests for additional troops in Afghanistan before he has decided on his new strategy there.

While the decision is expected to be the first significant military move of his presidency, defense officials said that Mr. Obama could choose a middle ground, deploying several thousand more troops there in the coming months but postponing a more difficult judgment on a much larger increase in personnel until after the administration completes a review of Afghanistan policy.

The officials said that Mr. Obama may deploy one or two additional brigades, between 3,500 and 7,000 soldiers.

But he has other options, and several administration officials said it was also possible — though less likely — that he could postpone any deployments until after his review was complete. Such a move would not find much favor with commanders in Afghanistan, who have a standing request for an additional three brigades, or more than 10,000 soldiers.

It is also possible that Mr. Obama will fill the request for all three brigades, administration officials said.

Mr. Obama’s military commanders want additional brigades in place by late spring or early summer as part of an effort to counter growing violence and chaos in Afghanistan, particularly before presidential elections that are expected to take place there in August.

Robert M. Gates, the defense secretary, said Tuesday that he had presented options to Mr. Obama that “give him several ways of going forward,” and added that he expected a determination “in the course of the next few days.”

Referring to the additional brigades being sought by commanders, Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary, said Mr. Obama “could make a decision about none, one, two or all of them.”

Obama Florida Townhall Meeting Transcript (2-10-09)

Read the complete transcript here. Excerpts below:

OBAMA: You’ve seen a change in the economic conditions of your community.

You see, all too often in Washington, what happens is, is that people think in terms of numbers and statistics. They think about it in abstract terms.

But when we say we’ve lost 3.6 million jobs since this recession began, nearly 600,000 in the past month alone, when we say that Lee County has seen its unemployment rate go from 3.5 percent to nearly 10 percent in less than two years, when we talk about the plummeting home prices and soaring foreclosure rates that have plagued this area and the layoffs at companies like Kraft Construction and Chico’s (ph), companies that have sustained this community for years, we’re not just talking about faceless numbers.

We’re talking about families. We’re talking about some of the people in this town hall meeting today, your neighbors, your friends. We’re talking about people like Steve Atkins (ph), who joins us today with his wife, Michelle (ph), and their son, Bailey (ph), and daughter, Josie (ph).

Steve’s the president of a small construction company in Fort Myers that specializes in building and repairing schools, but work has slowed considerably, like it has across the board in the construction area. Now, he’s done what he can to reduce overhead costs, but he still has been forced to lay off half his workforce, which means that many of those people may now be trying to figure out how are they going to pay their mortgage, how are they going to pay for the basic necessities of life, which puts us on a downward economic spiral.

Steve and Michelle have made sacrifices of their own. They’ve sold their home and moved into a smaller one.

And that’s what this debate is about: folks in Fort Myers and all across the country who have lost their livelihoods and don’t know what will take its place, parents who’ve lost their health care and lie awake at night praying their kids don’t get sick, families who’ve lost the home that was the foundation of their American dream, young people who put that college acceptance letter back in the envelope because they can’t afford it.

(APPLAUSE) That’s what’s behind the numbers; that’s what’s behind the statistics; that’s the true measure of this economic crisis. Those are the stories I heard every time I came to Florida, because this isn’t new. When we were campaigning down here, before the election, I was hearing about Florida suffering the first recession that it had in 16 years.

We didn’t know then how deep it was going to go. Well, it’s gone deep. It’s gotten worse. And the stories that I’ve heard here in Florida and in Indiana and all across the country I carried with me to the White House.


I promised you back then that, if elected president, I would do everything I could to help our communities recover, that I would not forget. And that’s why I’ve come back here today to tell you how I intend to keep that promise to make communities like Fort Myers stronger.


So the situation we face could not be more serious; I don’t have to tell you that. We’ve inherited an economic crisis as deep and as dire as any since the Great Depression.

And economists across the spectrum have warned, if we don’t act immediately, then millions more jobs will disappear, the national unemployment rates will approach double digits, more people will lose their homes and their health care, and our nation will sink into a crisis that at some point is going to be that much tougher to reverse.

So we cannot afford to wait. We can’t wait and see and hope for the best. I believe in hope, but I also believe in action.


We can’t afford to posture and bicker and resort to the same failed ideas that got us into this mess in the first place.


That’s what the election was about. You rejected many of those ideas because you know they didn’t work. You didn’t send us to Washington because you were hoping for more of the same; you sent us there to change things. And that’s exactly what I intend to do as president of the United States.


OBAMA: The problems that led us into this crisis are deep, they’re widespread, and so we’re going to have to do a lot of different things to get the economy moving again. We need to stabilize and repair our financial system.

We need to get credit flowing again to families and businesses. We need to stem the spread of foreclosures that are sweeping this country.