By Jacob Sullum
Defending himself against the charge that he is soft on terrorism, especially in his handling of detainees/suspects, President Obama accidentally tells the truth:
The most important thing for the public to understand is we're not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11.
Obama evidently thinks this should count in his favor. But for anyone who believed his professed commitment to due process and the rule of law, the fact that his anti-terrorist policies are very similar to Bush's is cause for disappointment. As The New York Times notes:
Mr. Obama has preserved much of Mr. Bush's counterterrorism strategy. He not only continued drone missile strikes against terrorist cells in Pakistan, but he also escalated them. American troop levels in Afghanistan are tripling on his watch. He kept the surveillance program, military commissions and rendition authority he inherited, and he plans to continue holding some detainees without charges.
Obama did officially eschew waterboarding, but so had the Bush administration by the time he was running for president. He has failed to deliver on his promise to close Guantanamo and in any event plans to continue the detention policies it symbolizes. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes sums up the situation pretty well:
The one thing that’s changed is there’s now a Democratic president instead of a Republican president.
In a column last month, I asked, "What's the difference between Obama's anti-terrorism policies and Bush's?"