-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger
John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, gave a speech at Harvard Law School entitled “Strengthening our Security by Adhering to our Values and Laws.” According to Marty Lederman, “it is the most comprehensive single statement of the Obama Administration’s policies and practices with respect to al Qaeda and other terrorist threats.”
Many supporters of the previous administration, including Rumsfeld, Cheney, and Yoo, would have us believe the Obama administration is continuing policies from the Bush administration. They perceive this continuation as a vindication of their policy choices. Their understandable desire for vindication makes suspect their claims of continuation. In many crucial areas, these claims are false.
Regarding Guantánamo Bay, Brennan notes a significant departure from the Bush administration:
The prison at Guantánamo Bay undermines our national security, and our nation will be more secure the day when that prison is finally and responsibly closed. For all of the reasons mentioned above, we will not send more individuals to the prison at Guantánamo.
Consistent with our laws and our values, the President unequivocally banned torture and other abusive interrogation techniques, rejecting the claim that these are effective means of interrogation.
On using the courts:
It’s also been suggested that prosecuting terrorists in our federal courts somehow impedes the collection of intelligence. A long record of experience, however, proves otherwise.
Our federal courts are time-tested, have unquestioned legitimacy, and, at least for the foreseeable future, are capable of producing a more predictable and sustainable result than military commissions.
In short, our Article III courts are not only our single most effective tool for prosecuting, convicting, and sentencing suspected terrorists—they are a proven tool for gathering intelligence and preventing attacks.
On issuing Miranda warnings:
Claims that Miranda warnings undermine intelligence collection ignore decades of experience to the contrary.
As Juliette Kayyem wrote:
It has simply not been more of the same. The CIA’s “black sites”–secret prisons in other countries–are closed. Enhanced interrogation is outlawed. The laws of war have been restored. Guantanamo remains open not because Obama wants it that way, but because Congress has barred the expenditure of funds to bring its prisoners to the United States for trial.
There has been a significant departure from the Bush administration policies in another notable area: the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Bush famously said: “You know, I just don’t spend that much time on [bin Laden] … to be honest with you.” Least we forget, it was Bush who disbanded the CIA unit, known as Alec Station, whose mission was to hunt down bin Laden.
It was the Obama administration that put forward the effort to find bin Laden. Now the members of the Bush administration are engaged in a pathetic attempt to diminish Obama’s success by trying to claim some of the credit.
H/T: Opinio Juris.