Prominent conservative lawyers and Bush administration officials denounced as "shameful" a video by Liz Cheney and Bill Kristol's conservative organization Keep America Safe that suggests lawyers who defended Guantanamo Bay detainees are complicit in terrorism. Signatories include top Bush Administration attorneys and officials, even those who have vocally defended its controversial policies - as well as Kenneth Starr. Separately, Bush administration Solicitor General Ted Olson defended the attorneys attacked in the video. These developments dramatize the split between former Bush administration officials and the Cheneyites, who advocate for irresponsible and dangerous counterterrorism policies.
Yesterday, it was revealed that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar -- the number two in the Afghan Taliban and the de facto leader of the insurgency -- was captured in Pakistan. This is the most recent in a trend of success in the Administration's counterterrorism efforts at home and abroad that utilizes diplomacy, intelligence, law enforcement and armed force to disrupt and dismantle terrorist organizations and plots. Yet simultaneously, conservatives have gone to Dick Cheney for leadership and actually heightened their criticism, opting for an ideological, not reality-based approach to America's security.
On Christmas day, a terrorist came perilously close to successfully staging an attack within the US. The administration has set out to carefully review how this attempt could have taken place, with the President vowing to strengthen the system protecting Americans and to hold his administration accountable for its mistakes. Within a day, conservatives had begun discussing preventive war on Yemen, confidently asserting that Obama's policies had caused the attack, and using the incident for fundraising purposes. For the sake of Americans' security, conservatives should abandon these dangerous tactics, and take up the administration's call for unity in countering the terrorist threat.
The tragic suicide bombings in Baghdad this weekend demonstrate that Iraq’s underlying political tensions, which went unresolved by President Bush’s surge strategy, must be addressed in order to achieve lasting stability. Many conservatives were quick to declare mission accomplished again following the lull in violence after the “surge.” However, the grievances and disputes that pushed Iraq into civil war and led to massive ethnic cleansing have yet to be comprehensively addressed. While overall violence has decreased since the fall of 2007, the underlying disagreements between Iraq’s three main groups – Shia, Sunni, and Kurds – have persisted. The political structure of the Iraqi state, the distribution of oil revenue, and the status of disputed territories in the north, are all issues the surge was supposed to address but did not. Though the swift creation of an election law agreement following the bombings is a hopeful sign, it remains to be seen whether this tentative progress can be translated into sustained political accommodation and reconciliation.
Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s efforts to rewrite the track record of his Administration reached a new level of absurdity yesterday. In one of the most bizarre attacks on President Obama yet, Cheney, as well as House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), accused the President of “dithering” on Afghanistan.Furthermore, Cheney and Boehner’s calls for the Administration to rush more troops to Afghanistan without a clear partner government in place are irresponsible.
The record is clear: Dick Cheney and the Bush administration were incompetent war fighters. They ignored Afghanistan for 7 years with a crude approach to counter-insurgency warfare best illustrated by: 1. Deny it. 2. Ignore it. 3. Bomb it.
Dick Cheney returned to the airwaves on Sunday to provide a full-throated defense of torture. No senior conservative or nonpartisan national security figures have echoed Cheney’s concerns, exposing them for what they are – attempts to politicize national security by accusing the Administration of the same. Unfortunately, while the national security community has not taken up these fringe views, many conservatives have.
Today Ahmed Ghailani, a detainee at Guantanamo Bay, was brought to the United States to stand trial in the US court system. Ghailani is facing charges for his role in the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, which killed over 224 people, including 12 Americans. Ghailani’s transfer from military custody to the Justice Department marks an important point in the process of closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center. But closing Guantanamo is not simply about restoring the image of America in the world’s eyes.