Obama using Americans in Iraq as ‘collateral’ to maintain Dem support for airstrikes?
posted at 10:01 am on August 12, 2014 by Noah Rothman
A grotesque accusation surfaced in the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday. It is an unconfirmed claim, and is so repulsive that the source of this assertion refused to reveal his or her identity to WFB’s Adam Kredo. It is, nevertheless, conceivable that, as this source claims, President Barack Obama is balking at evacuating American diplomatic personnel from Iraq in order to maintain support among the American left for airstrikes against ISIS targets.
One unidentified “senior Senate source” recently spoke to Kredo about a call administration officials had with their congressional counterparts clarifying the legal basis the president is citing in order to justify airstrikes on targets inside Iraq. The legal authority the president is basing this action on is somewhat dubious, particularly considering the administration’s repeated assertions that the 2002 resolution which authorized force in Iraq is defunct and should be fully repealed by Congress.
The White House appears to be claiming simply that the president has the constitutional authority to protect and defend American citizens, and he is legally empowered to execute strikes on ISIS targets if they present an immediate threat to U.S. interests or personnel. American military officials are, however, apparently prepared to interpret that which constitutes an “immediate threat” in a loose fashion.
“The administration is saying that they’re going to authorize air strikes if ISIS gets close to U.S. personal [sic] or stationed personal [sic], which in [our] mind, if there is a threat in the region you get your people out unless they’re military,” the Senate source told WFB.
And then came this startling claim:
This rationale from the White House is leading some to speculate that U.S. personnel in the region are being left in harm’s way “as collateral” because the Obama administration “can’t get his party and donor base to support further action in Iraq,” according to the source.
“That’s where a lot of the confusion is coming from” on Capitol Hill, the source added. “When there’s an imminent threat you get your civilian employees out of the region.”
It is startling to imply that the President of the United States is keeping Americans in the line of fire in order to compel his political allies to back military action in Iraq over their natural objections. While that is not impossible, it is a rather abhorrent suggestion. The president could dispel some of these rumors if he made a full-throated case for intervention in Iraq, but his tentative and hesitant approach to the crisis is inviting this kind of morale-sapping speculation.
This post has been updated since its original publication.