Obama: We must never compromise our cherished values, unless it’s really important

posted at 1:19 pm on May 21, 2009 by Allahpundit

Hotline has the transcript, but be warned that it’s a long slog through many swamps — Gitmo, interrogation, the torture memos, the unreleased Abu Ghraib photos, and on and on. You’re better off with Maguire’s witty recap. In a nutshell: We must look forward while also remembering that everything is Bush’s fault, and we must not abandon our core ideals unless doing so would make things too difficult for The One. My favorite part:

We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.

As I said, I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture – like other prisoners of war – must be prevented from attacking us again. However, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. That is why my Administration has begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don’t make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.

I know that creating such a system poses unique challenges. Other countries have grappled with this question, and so must we. But I want to be very clear that our goal is to construct a legitimate legal framework for Guantanamo detainees – not to avoid one. In our constitutional system, prolonged detention should not be the decision of any one man. If and when we determine that the United States must hold individuals to keep them from carrying out an act of war, we will do so within a system that involves judicial and congressional oversight.

I.e. indefinite detention without trial, just like Karl wrote about this morning. There is an alternative to that available to Obama that would fall in line with constitutional principles: He could simply release the guys we don’t have enough evidence (or enough usable evidence) to prosecute and then have the CIA shadow them forever. But the public would go berserk and his national security credibility would be destroyed, so instead he falls back on some squishy “oversight” process in lieu of the right to a speedy trial. So much for cherished values. The irony is that his compromise on this sounds a lot like Clinton’s recommended compromise for torture in ticking-bomb scenarios: We know the CIA’s going to do it whether it’s legal or not, so we might as well create a judicial oversight mechanism, possibly involving torture warrants, to make sure there’s a check on it. That’s essentially the route The One’s going here vis-a-vis indefinite detention. Why not do it with torture, too?

The other lowlight comes when Obama explains why he released the torture memos but not the Abu Ghraib photos. Read it for yourself about three-quarters of the way down. In essence, he says that everyone already knew what interrogation techniques Bush had approved so there was no risk of inflaming anti-American outrage or disclosing any secrets to Al Qaeda. Really? I saw plenty of people in the media outraged upon learning from the memos that KSM has been waterboarded 183 times; presumably a few people overseas weren’t real thrilled about it either. As for disclosing secrets, what about that panel he ordered in January to investigate the CIA’s need for interrogation techniques that go beyond the Army Field Manual? Those aren’t going to be secret once they release their findings. And isn’t it equally true that everyone who’s seen the original Abu Ghraib photos has a pretty good idea of what’s in those photos he refuses to release — in which case, per his logic about the memos, shouldn’t they be released too? His spin here reminds me of Pelosi’s bobbing and weaving on waterboarding: The obvious truth is that he released the memos to appease his base and held back the photos to appease his righty critics, but he can’t say that so he has to come up with a, er, tortured explanation.

One more quote, simply because it’s the foulest lie in the whole speech:

We see that, above all, in how the recent debate has been obscured by two opposite and absolutist ends. On one side of the spectrum, there are those who make little allowance for the unique challenges posed by terrorism, and who would almost never put national security over transparency. On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who embrace a view that can be summarized in two words: “anything goes.” Their arguments suggest that the ends of fighting terrorism can be used to justify any means, and that the President should have blanket authority to do whatever he wants – provided that it is a President with whom they agree.

Both sides may be sincere in their views, but neither side is right.

Like Maguire says (and really, read his recap), did Obama even read the torture memos? The whole point was to provide guidance to interrogators because not everything goes. It’s his own moronic cultist followers who are the absolutists on this subject, not Bush/Cheney.

Here’s 90 seconds from the speech on values. Something tells me it’s not going to get the ACLU crowd off his ass.

Update: And I was right. Says Brett Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, “He wraps himself in the Constitution, talks about American values and then proceeds to violate them.” Preventive detention seems to be a sticking point, don’tcha know.



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I didn’t get to see the speech but I bet it was HISTORIC

Bicyea on May 21, 2009 at 2:17 PM

I wonder what his excuse will be after the next terrorist attack?

Amateur Hour at the Apollo is gonna get thousands of Americans killed.

omnipotent on May 21, 2009 at 2:18 PM

uh by uh um important I mean uh securing Union bennies by uh flouting the erm law…not keeping you plebes safe.

sven10077 on May 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

//Ogabe

sven10077 on May 21, 2009 at 2:20 PM

OK—did not hear speech, just read parts of it but, while some of his points are ‘point’less, I think I read something hopeful between the lines. This man seems to be beginning to face some of the unpleasant realities of his job and while not yet coming to grips with some of these, he is at least acknowledging their existence and their resistance to easy fixes. I see that as something of a plus. Now–pounce if you wish.

jeanie on May 21, 2009 at 2:26 PM

“We are a nation of laws” – Barack Obama

Er, except when the laws in question are contract laws between investors and struggling auto companies promising certain benefits in exchange for operating capital and so forth…but oh the eloquence, the gravitas, the calm demeanor – why this historically MAJOR speech was even more historically major than his last historic major speech.

Huckabye-Romney on May 21, 2009 at 2:27 PM

Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture – like other prisoners of war – must be prevented from attacking us again.

It’s official. If they are at war with us then its ridiculous for anybody to suggest that we should be trying to deal with terrorism or terrorists as a police action. Hmmmm….but then again…..maybe that’s why they no longer want to call them terroists.

JohnnyL on May 21, 2009 at 2:29 PM

Obama is the master of the straw man. Who ever said anything goes when it comes to counter-terror operations?

ddrintn on May 21, 2009 at 2:32 PM

This been nowhere, done nothing dolt wouldn’t make a pimple on Cheney’s backside . . . he’s spends more useless time on television than a test pattern.

rplat on May 21, 2009 at 2:32 PM

The only remaining question: Will we survive four years of this amateur?

d1carter on May 21, 2009 at 2:08 PM

No. It’s either The Precedent or the US. Hopefully the SCOTUS realizes this, soon, and finds him ineligible, which is the only Constitutional way out of this gigantic mistake. Well … unless the justice department tried investigating any of the many criminal acts committed by The Precedent (such as his illegal campaign finance, for an easy one), but with the traitor and moron Holder in charge over there, there’s absolutely no chance of that.

In the end, barring the above, it will be the stock market/bond market that are the only things able to put the brakes on the rape and pillaging of America by this junta occupying the White House and Capitol Hill. Nothing else will do it, as America is still caught in the mass insanity that brought The Precedent in the first place. (And that mass insanity/psychotic break, and how it so easily spread here, ought to send a chill down everyone’s spine – everyone with a brain, that is)

progressoverpeace on May 21, 2009 at 2:33 PM

I didn’t get to see the speech but I bet it was HISTORIC

Bicyea on May 21, 2009 at 2:17 PM

Close. It was HISTRIONIC.

progressoverpeace on May 21, 2009 at 2:34 PM

From Gehrety at NRO:

Obama’s speech was about theory, and even in this circumstance, where a foiled plot to blow up synagogues in the Bronx isn’t even the biggest news of the day, it felt professorial, esoteric, abstract, and strikingly lacking in specifics. I can only imagine how this will sound when there are bodies in the streets.

omnipotent on May 21, 2009 at 2:36 PM

Obama and other democrats repeatedly proclaim that Guantanamo, “Likely created more terrorists than it detains.” This is merely their ‘idea.’ Their ‘fancy.’ Something they make up out of whole cloth and that sounds good to them and those willing to believe their party line no matter how unsupported their assertions. Neither Obama, nor any of his amen chorus can offer any proof to support this fancy.

On the other hand there is verified proof that actionable data was gathered from terrorists held there which has stopped or slowed actual terrorists attacks.

Mr A on May 21, 2009 at 2:37 PM

Obama’s administration likely created more militias than it detains.

For now…

omnipotent on May 21, 2009 at 2:39 PM

Obama: We must never compromise our cherished values, unless it’s really important

There is only two values I can think of at the moment that they truly cherish.

First is the obtaining of power.

Second is the keeping of it.

Chaz706 on May 21, 2009 at 2:39 PM

How can a President of the United States continue to get away with such lies and calumny?

rockmom on May 21, 2009 at 1:33 PM

Having useful idiots, lots and lots of them.

myrenovations on May 21, 2009 at 1:36 PM

No Presidential candidate in history got as many high school dropout votes as O’bama. Not even Algore.

Del Dolemonte on May 21, 2009 at 2:40 PM

I guess Obama thinks terrorist attacks aren’t important.

Bevan on May 21, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Funny in today’s campaign speech, Obama never commented on an inconvenient truth that our (liberal) judges would most likely find them innocent of all charges and they would be released.

moonsbreath on May 21, 2009 at 2:46 PM

OK—did not hear speech, just read parts of it but, while some of his points are ‘point’less, I think I read something hopeful between the lines. This man seems to be beginning to face some of the unpleasant realities of his job and while not yet coming to grips with some of these, he is at least acknowledging their existence and their resistance to easy fixes. I see that as something of a plus. Now–pounce if you wish.

jeanie on May 21, 2009 at 2:26 PM

Nah. You’re being beguiled by the language of moderation. It’s a tool he uses to make all choices sound hard, and make himself sound smarter. Here’s Obama on lunch:

“We must not devolve into two competing idealogies. Our choices are more than an insistence on preserving the outmoded ways of the past (round McDonald burgers) versus the radical new way of thinking (square Wendy’s burgers). I promise to bring a new era of thoughtfulness and consideration to this issue, and provide a bold new era of oversight and transparency.”

Which means, of course, that Obama will buy up Wendy’s, force them to make meatless burgers, and attack McDonald’s as partisan lawbreakers.

hawksruleva on May 21, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Like Maguire says (and really, read his recap), did Obama even read the torture memos? The whole point was to provide guidance to interrogators because not everything goes.

As Ed Morrissey wrote when the memos came out, this is baloney. They clearly decided what they wanted to do, then reverse-engineered the memos to claim that what they wanted to do was legal.

That said, the part of Obama’s speech that you excerpted is indeed a ridiculous strawman argument. Cheney did the same thing in his speech. The only difference is that Obama is smart enough to create a strawman on either side to make himself come off as a centrist. Cheney doesnt have that skill. Then again, nobody ever claimed Cheney was as good a communicator as Obama.

orange on May 21, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Michelle is a self hating minority in the same league like uncle Steele

nice343 on May 21, 2009 at 11:26 AM

Oh my. If you wanted to be banned, you need only have asked. Au revoir.

Allahpundit on May 21, 2009 at 11:35 AM

From Michelle’s NYT thread earlier today.

Good riddence to bad rubbish!

omnipotent on May 21, 2009 at 2:59 PM

oh…he KNOWS so much.

he’s so SMART & WONDERFUL. His Life is FULL of EXPERIENCES & leadership.

Start doing your freaking job barry & quit giving speeches.

poppieseeds on May 21, 2009 at 3:08 PM

6.6 million Americans unemployed and the Token is playing “Dueling Speeches” with Cheney.

Get to work you Affermative Action slacker!

omnipotent on May 21, 2009 at 3:10 PM

I guess Obama thinks terrorist attacks aren’t important.

Bevan on May 21, 2009 at 2:44 PM

Saves him from having to get his hands dirty, decreasing the population!

capejasmine on May 21, 2009 at 3:12 PM

I didn’t get to see the speech but I bet it was HISTORIC

Bicyea on May 21, 2009 at 2:17 PM
Close. It was HISTRIONIC.

progressoverpeace on May 21, 2009 at 2:34 PM

I am in hysterics

seven on May 21, 2009 at 3:14 PM

As I said, I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people.

Didn’t Harry Reid say just the other day that simply moving the detainees from Gitmo would constitute “releasing” them, and is therefore out of the question? LOL I love these people.

ddrintn on May 21, 2009 at 3:25 PM

Obama got pwned by Cheney today. It’s about time. Someone needs to take Barry to school, after all. It certainly helps that Obama is getting pwned by reality, too, over and against his fatuous campaign rhetoric.

Why didn’t we hear this kind of clear defense of the Bush anti-terrorism policy during GWB’s terms? Or did I miss it? Or is it more clear because Obama presents such a striking contrast?

evergreen on May 21, 2009 at 3:25 PM

“He wraps himself in the Constitution, talks about American values and then proceeds to violate them.”

That’s pretty much been Barry’s M.O. on everything he’s done so far: taking over banks; threatening secured creditors in bankruptcy proceedings into taking less than their fair share so that unions can get more than they’re entitled to; giving and then forgiving billions of dollars of taxpayer “loans” to failing auto companies; having the EPA label CO2 as a pollutant so the gov’t can pick and choose winners and losers in the energy industry, etc., etc.

Barry doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution. How many times does he have to violate it before people figure that out?

AZCoyote on May 21, 2009 at 3:38 PM

Barry doesn’t give a damn about the Constitution. How many times does he have to violate it before people figure that out?

AZCoyote on May 21, 2009 at 3:38 PM

And will he ever be held accountable? Never mind – rhetorical question.

Daggett on May 21, 2009 at 3:45 PM

Will some one please tell this POS that WE ARE THE GOOD GUYS AND THEY ARE THE BAD GUYS?

The detainee’s are not soldiers. They attack only innocent and unarmed civilians. They respect no boundries and no international laws.

What is done to them when they are captured in the interest of protecting US citizens should be left to the military commander to decide.

Obastard is grandstanding again while not really changing a thing. Give him his cookie now and send him to bed.

DeweyWins on May 21, 2009 at 3:56 PM

He’s gonna age fast.

PrincipledPilgrim on May 21, 2009 at 3:56 PM

hawksruleva on May 21, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Very well done! Nailed it!

tru2tx on May 21, 2009 at 4:04 PM

I guess that Noam Chomsky is right: torture really is as American as apple pie. Democrats are just as capable of torturing people as Republicans.

What’s disturbing is that you people just seem to think that’s something America should be proud of. I think it just proves that America is a shitty country that will do whatever it takes to maintain its superpower status.

AJB on May 21, 2009 at 1:37 PM

Why are you so quick to believe we tortured people?

anuts on May 21, 2009 at 4:22 PM

“I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher;

Studying as a student. Teaching as a teacher. This guy is a friggin’ genius with words.

I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.”

– The Precedent

But … in the end, The Precedent cares so little about laws that he looks for empathy in his judges and justices, so that they will more easily be able to “break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution.”

How many transparent lies can this moron tell before people finally get sick of it and demand that he be tossed out of the White House before he totally destroys our country? The point of no return is rapidly approaching.

progressoverpeace on May 21, 2009 at 4:26 PM

This been nowhere, done nothing dolt wouldn’t make a pimple on Cheney’s backside . . . he’s spends more useless time on television than a test pattern.

rplat on May 21, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Didn’t watch the speech, tired of this everyday taking up good TV time to listen to BS. Read the part about values, laws. Haven’t seen any of that in his legislation. All of it is unconstitutional in my opinion. And no one is willing to take it to the courts to challenge them.

hillbilly on May 21, 2009 at 4:34 PM

More proof that the OLC memos were legal fig leaves, not actual guidance as AP naively claims:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/5/20/733812/-Bombshell-Report-Ties-Gonzo-to-Torture,-Months-before-Authorization

The torture was happening before the memos were written. They they wrote the memos ex post facto to justify what they had already done. Ed Morrissey was able to figure this out from just reading the memos. I dont know why AP and Maguire havent figured it out.

orange on May 21, 2009 at 4:37 PM

From Jihad Watch via Weasel Zippers

Obama, who will travel to Egypt next month to give a major speech to the Muslim world, told Wolffe he wants to convene a “Muslim summit.”

“If I had a Muslim summit, I think that I can speak credibly to them about the fact that I respect their culture,” Obama said, “that I understand their religion, that I have lived in a Muslim country, and as a consequence I know it is possible to reconcile Islam with modernity and respect for human rights and a rejection of violence. And I think I can speak with added credibility.” [end]

If he can save the Islamic world while obviously being completely ignorant of it, then surely he can do the same for Christendom.

The fact that he would express a desire to reconcile the 7th century with the 21st disqualifies speaks volumes.

Akzed on May 21, 2009 at 4:38 PM

Akzed on May 21, 2009 at 4:38 PM

The rest of that quote, on the subject of race and Reparations, was equally bizarre:

“Solving our racial problems in this country will require concrete steps, significant investment,” he said. “We have a lot of work to do to overcome the long legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. It can’t be purchased on the cheap.
“I am fundamentally optimistic about our capacity to do that,” he added. “And I do assert that there is a core decency in the American people and in white Americans that makes me hopeful about our ability to deal with these issues. But these issues aren’t just solved by electing a black president.”

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2009/05/20/obama-distracted-bidens-indiscipline-book-asserts/

JiangxiDad on May 21, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Dick (Grrr) Cheney lured him out, then smacked him good.

PattyJ on May 21, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Obama=Nosedive

He’s going in, wing got blown off
by the mighty ACE Cheney.

falderal on May 21, 2009 at 4:59 PM

I’m beginning to think that the real reason we can’t find a way to try these terrorists is that we know they’re guilty and would ultimately be sentenced to death. And the entire liberal establishment globally would go nuts.

T/4, Barry will never try them.

PattyJ on May 21, 2009 at 5:04 PM

The only difference is that Obama is smart enough to create a strawman on either side to make himself come off as a centrist. Cheney doesnt have that skill. Then again, nobody ever claimed Cheney was as good a communicator as Obama.

orange on May 21, 2009 at 2:50 PM

Well-delivered bullshit is still bullshit. People can catch on.

ddrintn on May 21, 2009 at 5:05 PM

Obama=Nosedive

He’s going in, wing got blown off
by the mighty ACE Cheney.

falderal on May 21, 2009 at 4:59 PM

He’s going in allright, but not by Cheney alone. Obama will tank Obama. He has too many thoughts flooding his mind at one time. He is way over his head, and he will come tumbling down under his own weight.

“Don’t you go thinking and thinking and thinking and…don’t you go thinking cause your loosing your mind.”

He needs to be a fast learner, but in many cases the toothpaste is already out of the tube. It’s the amature hour at the Whitehouse, and it shows big time.

saiga on May 21, 2009 at 5:15 PM

Has the US captured any new terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan or elsewhere since Obama was elected?
Where are they being held?
When are their court dates?

albill on May 21, 2009 at 5:44 PM

Likes to talk about the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. He should set down and read it and explain to the American people what article allows the Federal government to dictate individual rights, states rights and the right for Government to use federal taxes for all the bail outs, etc. Sure knows how to put on a show.

hillbilly on May 21, 2009 at 6:27 PM

And I thought I went on and on and on with some topics… ack! Ok, I do, but I can at least make a point or two along the way.

On the plus side, can we now ding up President Obama for not using the rule of law and transparency in TARP, bailouts, and the rest of the shinola in the economy. The guy is not following his very own standards, and the more I look at ‘fear mongering’ the more I look at TARP, bailouts and such…

ajacksonian on May 21, 2009 at 6:31 PM

He read Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” and thought it was an instruction manual.

bitsy on May 21, 2009 at 6:44 PM

What’s disturbing is that you people just seem to think that’s something America should be proud of. I think it just proves that America is a shitty country that will do whatever it takes to maintain its superpower status.

AJB on May 21, 2009 at 1:37 PM

So…do YOU live here???

If so, why? Can’t afford a plane ticket to Havana?

uncivilized on May 21, 2009 at 6:56 PM

Dips–t commie bastard. He’ll get us attacked and
blame it on Cheney, Rush or the tooth fairy.

20012 can’t get here fast enough.

Texyank on May 21, 2009 at 7:21 PM

“In a nutshell: We must look forward while also remembering that everything is Bush’s fault, and we must not abandon our core ideals unless doing so would make things too difficult for The One.”

Allah’s alltime best line.

notagool on May 21, 2009 at 7:56 PM

I didn’t get to see the speech but I bet it was HISTORIC

Bicyea on May 21, 2009 at 2:17 PM

It was his very first speech today.

Jim Treacher on May 21, 2009 at 8:15 PM

I love this quote:

“This is the toughest issue we will face,” Obama declared in a 50-minute address at the National Archives where he said he had inherited a legal “mess” from the Bush administration that had hurt America’s moral standing in the world.

So Barry thinks this is as tough as it’s gonna get for him, after only 100 days and change.

The gall of this Child-King is truly unmeasurable.

omnipotent on May 21, 2009 at 9:55 PM

JiangxiDad on May 21, 2009 at 4:54 PM

Nice catch.

moxie_neanderthal on May 21, 2009 at 10:38 PM

He read Franz Kafka’s “The Trial” and thought it was an instruction manual.

bitsy on May 21, 2009 at 6:44 PM

Spot on and very witty I might add. Kafka in his writings was a master of double speak. Read Kafka’s the hunger artist. You feel like you are puppet and Kafak is pulling the strings. Up and down, right and left, stop and go, the essence of doublespeak and reductio.

Geochelone on May 21, 2009 at 10:42 PM

Hey Strangelove, you claim that the GOP has no ideas and what were the idea of Kerry about Iraq? What were the ideas during the eight years of Bush? The only thing I remember is that Demos are for abortion and probably now post abortion rights and to rag on the GOP. Orange, I don’t think you are correct in stating the Strawman is a mistake because after 9-11 has happened then anything can happen. I hope your city or Stranglets city is spared.

garydt on May 21, 2009 at 10:43 PM

The toughest issue we will face is trying to find Obama’s birth certificate. It might be in the National Archive where he gave the speech but only Sandy Burglar knows for sure.

Geochelone on May 21, 2009 at 10:46 PM

This from the man who is trashing our values and throwing babies out with the bathwater and the kitchen sink.

RandyChandler on May 21, 2009 at 10:47 PM

Using drones in Pakistan must be in line with our values. Good to know.

Jamson64 on May 21, 2009 at 11:00 PM

Nothing we did in the past 8 years with regard to the war on terror compromised our values.

We DID compromise our values when Obama started to dry hump Arab warlords and Latin American autocrats.

el gordo on May 22, 2009 at 9:16 AM

IT IS SO SIMPLE—WATERBOARD ALL OF WASHINGTON CONGRESS AND THE PRESISENT AND HIS STAFF THEN ALL THE WORLD WILL KNOW EVERYTHING ABOUT USA AND THE LEFT WILL GET IST WISH THE END OF AMERICA AND THE LEFT LOL LOL LOL

rone5847 on May 22, 2009 at 10:03 AM

“It’s a violation of our most sacred principles as a nation to keep these poor people in squalor in Guantanamo. But let me be clear: none of these murderous animals will be released to wreak havoc on American cities, towns, schools or churches.”

ddrintn on May 22, 2009 at 6:12 PM

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