Thursday, January 15, 2009

Change We Can Be Confused In

Now, things like ending don't ask, don't tell (see last post) are the kind of changes I don't mind a bit. But I've been noticing some changes this week that may have been hinted at or talked around before... that might make one scratch their head.

First it was Joe Biden talking about Iraq:

BAGHDAD (AP) - Vice President-elect Joe Biden told Iraqi leaders Tuesday that the incoming U.S. administration is committed to a responsible troop withdrawal that does not endanger improvements in security, an Iraqi spokesman said.

A responsible withdrawal without endangering improvements almost sounds like basing decisions on 'conditions on the ground' wouldn't ya say?

President-elect Barack Obama pledged during his election campaign to withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office and shift the focus to Afghanistan to combat a resurgent Taliban and al-Qaida-linked militants.

Since the November election, however, the U.S. and Iraq have signed a new security agreement that provides for all the more than 140,000 U.S. troops to leave by 2012, despite concerns among senior U.S. commanders that Iraqi forces might not be ready by then to ensure stability.

Biden, a Democrat from Delaware who has been a frequent visitor to Iraq as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the agreement sets out a new strategy between Iraq and America, according to al-Dabbagh.

"He said that Obama is committed to withdraw but he wants the withdrawal to be a responsible one. Obama does not want to waste the security gains that have been achieved," al-Dabbagh said.

Almost sounds like they've abandoned the 16 month timetable for the current Bush "time horizon" wouldn't ya say?

Biden gave assurances that the new administration will stick to the timetable in the agreement, Al-Dabbagh said.

Sounds like Biden would say so.

Since the election, Obama, who is to take office on Jan. 20, has said he is committed to bringing the troops home but has pledged to consult with U.S. commanders, who caution against removing U.S. forces too quickly.

And while this bit is nothing new, it certainly seems that he's already heeded their cautions and toned down his policy that sounds a lot like an administration going by commanders in the field, making decisions based on conditions on the ground, and avoiding the timetables demanded by someone that I need not mention.

Then there was Obama's comments on bin Ladin:

Barack Obama suggested last night that removing Osama bin Laden from the battlefield was no longer essential and that America's security goals could be achieved merely by keeping al-Qaeda "on the run".

"My preference obviously would be to capture or kill him," he said. "But if we have so tightened the noose that he's in a cave somewhere and can't even communicate with his operatives then we will meet our goal of protecting America."

His comments, in a CBS interview, represent a significant watering down of the "dead or alive" policy pursued by President Bush since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. They also appear to contradict Mr Obama's own statements made in the election campaign.

As recently as October 7, in a presidential debate, Mr Obama said: "We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al-Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority."

I disagree with their depiction of Bush taking a 'dead or alive' approach since 9/11 without at least some mention of how Bush himself watered down that policy to say things... well things like Obama just said...

Curiouser and curiouser.

(note the texas longhorn hand gesture)

And today's confirmation hearings with the Eric Holder:

First on wiretapping:

As for renewing portions of FISA and warrantless wiretapping, in response to questions by Senator Russ Feingold, who objected to large portions of it, Mr. Holder again stresses that the law enforcement tools have been very effective. But, in another nod to those who opposed it, he said, “We always have to be mindful of the fact that there is a civil liberties component to this and we have to make sure we understand that there is not a tension between respective our great civil liberties” and the need for such tools to battle terrorism.”

Calling it an effective tool with little more than lip service to civil liberty concerns?

The left was already a bit peeved about Obama's FISA vote. Now his AG sounds like he's going to support the continued use of it as a critical part of our national security.

Match that with today's news from the NY Times:

WASHINGTON — A federal intelligence court, in a rare public opinion, issued a major ruling validating the power of the president and Congress to wiretap international phone calls and intercept e-mail messages without a specific court order, even when Americans’ private communications may be involved.


The decision marks the first time since the disclosure of the National Security Agency’s warrantless eavesdropping program three years ago that an appellate court has addressed the constitutionality of the federal government’s wiretapping powers. In validating the government’s wide authority to collect foreign intelligence, it may offer legal credence to the Bush administration’s repeated assertions that the president has the power to act without specific court approval in ordering national security eavesdropping that may involve Americans.

So not only the will, but the way... paved out with judicial green lights galore.

And one bonus one for Holder on the 2nd Amendment:

On the right to bear arms, under the 2nd Amendment, although Mr. Holder said he had sided with those who believed it did not confer an individual right, he pointed out the Supreme Court had ruled that it does in the recent gun law case involving Washington, D.C. “The reality is now the Supreme Court has spoken and that is now the law of the land,” and must be respected, he said.

We're talking about an old Clinton Admin collectivist right lackey on the 2nd Amendment... now claiming he'll adhere to the individual right approach of the Bush Admin and upheld by the Supreme Court.

An interesting side note that I'm skeptical of, but thrown in just for my own personal amusement.

Change We Can Be Confused In:

Is Obama changing Washington?

Is he reviving the Clinton Admin?

After this week... is he reviving the Bush Admin?

Beats me... but I predict higher rates of head scratching related injuries.

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