One has to marvel at the opening graph of this Politico story:
Growing evidence that the Nigerian man charged with trying to blow up a commercial airliner as it landed in Detroit Friday spent time in Yemen and may have been fitted with customized, explosive-laden clothing there could complicate the U.S. government’s efforts to send home more than 80 Yemeni prisoners currently at Guantanamo Bay.
Yes, reality is complicating the Obama administration’s war on terror policies. It must be maddening to the Obami that they are presented once again with inconvenient evidence that their insistence on emptying Guantanamo of dangerous people is mind-bogglingly inane. It is not surprising that Republicans were quick to point this out:
“Yesterday just highlights the fact that sending this many people back—or any people back—to Yemen right now is a really bad idea,” said Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee. “It’s just dumb….If you made a list of what the three dumbest countries would be to send people back to, Yemen would be on all the lists.” “I think it’s a major mistake,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said about prisoner releases to Yemen. “I don’t think Guantanamo should be closed, but if we’re going to close it I don’t believe we should be sending people to Yemen where prisoners have managed to escape in the past….Obviously, if [Abdulmutallab] did get training and direction from Yemen, it just adds to what is already a dangerous situation.”
Moreover this suggests that together with the domestic terror attack by Major Nadal Hassan, the Obama team will be hard pressed to make the claim that its policy of moral preening — closing Guantanamo, giving up on enhanced interrogation techniques, attacking the CIA, and giving KSM a public forum — is appropriate in the midst of daily evidence that our enemies are unimpressed with such gestures and are motivated not by objections to our military tribunals or incarceration policies but rather by their battle against western civilization itself.
And the Obami’s response is predictable. King and Hoeskstra, as have many of their colleagues (e.g., Rep. Frank Wolf on Yemen releases, Sen. Pete Sessions on the Uighurs), are running into a stone wall in attempting to get basic information from an administration whose first instinct is to stonewall and rebuff any oversight efforts:
As with the shooting at Ft. Hood in November, the White House has ordered federal agencies not to provide briefings or answer inquiries from members of Congress, leaving all such contacts to be handled by the White House.“I don’t think I ever saw that throughout President Bush’s time in the White House. I could call directly to the director of the CIA or the [National Counterterrorism Center] and get whatever briefings I wanted,” Hoekstra said. He called the briefing limits “totally inappropriate,” but said the White House maintained the orders were needed because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
Perhaps if the Obami’s anti-terror policies were more in sync with public opinion and reality, they would be more forthcoming. But the public will have only one question: are we safer because of the Obama administration’s policies? So far, there is reason to think we are not.