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Friday, April 24, 2009

Majority Of Americans Feel Obama Endangered Country With Release Of Interrogation Memos

In Washington a politician needs to pick his fights carefully, especially when trying to shape public opinion and Barack Obama miscalculated in his desire to defend himself against criticisms, especially those coming from former VP Dick Cheney.

A source familiar with White House views said Obama's advisers are further convinced that letting the public know exactly what the past administration sanctioned will undermine what they see as former vice president Richard B. Cheney's effort to "box Obama in" by claiming that the executive order heightened the risk of a terrorist attack.

Recap: To counter Dick Cheney's criticisms regarding an executive order that Obama signed banning secret prisons in which terrorists were interrogated for information, Obama decided, going against many of his own advisers, to release portions of memos dealing with the legalities of those interrogation methods.

Five CIA directors -- including Leon E. Panetta and his four immediate predecessors -- and Obama's top counterterrorism adviser had expressed firm opposition to the release of interrogation details in four "top secret" memos in which Bush administration lawyers sanctioned harsh tactics.

His aim was to refocus public opinion on the tactics and "coldness and sterility" of the legal justifications of the harsh tactics and instead, what he got, was controversy that spotlighted his own people saying those tactics yielded high value information that prevented a "second wave" of attacks in Los Angeles.

He also put himself and congressional members of his own party, in a corner, when Dick Cheney publicly demanded the release of the portions of the memos that were "blacked out", the segments which showed exactly the type of "high value" information was obtained and what it did to protect our country. As well as Pete Hoekstra going public about the meetings where congressional members were briefed on those interrogation methods and no one at those meetings, until a later date, registered one word of complaint and some actually asked if "more" could be done.

So, joining in a pissing match with Dick Cheney, who is out of the political scene, Obama, who had decent approval ratings, showed his inexperience by deciding to choose a battle for public perception and according to Rasmussen, that battle was lost.

"58% Say Release of CIA Memos Endangers National Security "

Fifty-eight percent (58%) believe the Obama administration’s recent release of CIA memos about the harsh interrogation methods used on terrorism suspects endangers the national security of the United States. The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 28% believe the release of the memos helps America’s image abroad.

Thirty-seven percent (37%) of voters now believe the U.S. legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights when national security is at stake. But 21% say the legal system is too concerned about protecting national security. Thirty-three percent (33%) say the balance between the two is about right.

Now, on one side, Obama has the far fer left demanding a truth commission, on another front, he has the majority of Americans saying he has endangered our national security, still another side that is demanding the release of the portions of the memos that showed the information obtained and then folks like Representative Hoekstra that says "go for it" but make sure the truth commission investigates every member of congress that approved those methods and let the chips fall where they may.

The assumption from the latest news would be that Obama doesn't want to delve too deeply, maybe knowing how many of his own party's leaders would be caught up in the scandal, because reports are saying now that Obama is "rejecting" and "resisting" the idea of the truth commission.

Barack Obama still has not learned that one needs to choose your battles carefully in Washington and advisers with more experience are there for a reason, they know how a political minefield can blow up in your face when you decide you want to answer every criticism, in such a spectacularly public way.

Obama did Cheney a favor though, because according to Cheney's daughter, he is now being "flooded" with requests for interviews.

Obama has provided Americans and the whole world a perfect example of what the word "backfire" means.