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Donald Douglas

John Yoo at West Coast Retreat: Obama Has Made Us Less Safe

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Posted on April 6 2011 3:30 pm

I’d like to follow-up on NewsReal Blog Editor David Swindle’s comments on the last-day session at the Freedom Center’s Retreat. David writes:

The speakers and panels where intellectually intense and at times emotionally draining. The threats facing our country today are challenging — play time is over.

Indeed, it is. And I’m looking forward to David’s continuing coverage of the presentations, and for him to elaborate on both of those points on emotions and threats. For my own part, I’d say frustration — amazingly — was a key sensation I experienced after spending time with my fellow conservatives at the retreat. As many participants expressed, the entire weekend was a sustained experience of intellectual stimulation. The speakers examined some of the most important issues facing our country today. But I felt some frustration because the presentations were so powerful and informative that I wanted to share them with the world! If more citizens had regular access to current information on policy — untainted by the lamestream media’s bias and ideological blinders — we’d be able to tackle our problems much more quickly and way more effectively.

Given that, I have to confess my pleasant surprise at the news that the Obama administration has cancelled plans to put 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial in New York. Attorney General Eric Holder appeared at pains while delivering the news on Monday, and the Wall Street Journal has a report, “U.S. Reverses on 9/11 Trials: Alleged Terror Plotter, Four Others to Face Military Tribunals as Obama Backtracks:

During the past two years, Mr. Obama has moved closer to embracing some of the Bush policies he had earlier criticized. In a March 2009 speech Mr. Obama endorsed the idea of restarting military commissions, which he had halted upon taking office. And he also announced he would set up a system to hold indefinitely without trial certain prisoners too dangerous to release.

Some of “the Bush policies” cited by the Journal were developed by John Yoo, who was Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Bush administration. Upon leaving government service, Mr. Yoo returned to teaching constitutional law at UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall. And at the retreat on Sunday, speaking at a panel entitled “Jihad on the Homefront,” Professor Yoo hammered the Obama administration’s foreign policy. President Obama has, he said, in attempting to dismantle the legal framework of the Bush administration’s anti-terror program, made Americans less safe. Not only did Obama attempt to shutter Guantanamo, but under his watch more than a quarter of the enemy combatants released from detention have returned to the field of battle. Professor Yoo indicated that the nature of the war on terror has changed significantly since the first few years after September 11. Al Qaeda has become increasingly decentralized as a terrorist organization, and transnational recruitment in the U.S. and Europe is a growing source of combatants for the next wave of operations. There are less likely to be large-scale attacks along the lines of 9/11, and more like that of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who tried to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner two Christmases ago.

I’ll have more commentary on the retreat later, and some of the other NewsReal bloggers will be commenting when the event videos are finished being edited and uploaded. Meanwhile, you gotta love this editorial from Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, “Vindicating Guantanamo: Eric Holder Adopts the Bush Anti-Terror Architecture“:

Yesterday’s Gitmo climb-down came after the Supreme Court rejected appeals from three Guantanamo detainees challenging their indefinite detention. If no other country will take them, the detainees have nowhere else to go.

KSM and his fellow murderers will now be tried by military commissions of the kind that President George W. Bush proposed in the earliest days of the conflict formerly known as the war on terror. Someone should write the headline: Holder vindicates Ashcroft, as in Mr. Bush’s first AG. Or how about: Current State Department Counselor Harold Koh vindicates John Yoo, the much-maligned Bush Justice Department official whose views on Presidential power have also been increasingly adopted by Team Obama.

Compare that to the disgruntled editors at the New York Times, “Cowardice Blocks the 9/11 Trial.”

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