Obama's first 48: Do you feel safer yet?

Barack Obama has been president for all of 48 hours, and I already feel less safe. In one of his first official acts as president, Obama ordered the detention facility at Guantanamo closed "within a year", and officially outlawed any "enhanced interrogation" techniques that fall outside of the U.S. Army Field Manual. In a signing ceremony attended by all the usual liberal suspects, the new president said that we would confront global violence without sacrificing "our values or our ideals".  After years of criticizing the Bush Administration, Obama and the Democrats will now have a chance to do it "their way". Democrats, of course, have always put a premium on high minded ideals -- preferring things to look good, sound good and feel good -- even if they don't work well (or at all) in practice.   The notion of fighting a war against a brutal enemy -- that decapitates its prisoners and seeks to wipe us from the face of the earth -- with the high ideals of our democratic laws and rules is both naive and dangerous. It reflects the fact that most on the left have never seen the fight against Islamic extremism as a real war, but rather as a difficult issue that can be dealt with through diplomacy, so-called "soft power" and conventional law enforcement techniques. In this upside down view of the world, Miranda rights, Habeus corpus and all other protections for terrorist detainees makes perfect sense.

The immediate result of closing Guantanamo is that it will now fall on the U.S. justice system to figure out what to do with the 250 detainees that remain there. For many on the left, this presents something of an academic question; there is a common narrative among opponents of Guantanamo that those imprisoned there are mostly innocent sheep herders and others caught up in the net of American power, and thus unjustly held without trial. Nothing could be further than the truth: the majority of prisoners at Guantanamo are hardened killers who if released will take up terrorism against us again, and present a real and pressing threat to the United States.

Obama's move to close Guantanamo comes as no surprise, of course, having been a central theme of his campaign. In fact, Obama has been on record as favoring a conventional legal remedy for terrorists ever since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year in Boumediene v Bush that Guantanamo terrorists should be granted access to the U.S. courts:

“I mean, you remember during the Nuremberg trials, part of what made us different was even after these Nazis had performed atrocities that no one had ever seen before, we still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law. Now the Supreme Court upheld that principle yesterday”.

Now, as president, Obama is acting to put his view of "terrorist rights" into effect.  In ruling that interrogation techniques be limited to the U.S. Army Field Manual, which limits questioning to "please" and "thank you" kind of questions, Obama has effectively tied the hands of CIA and other interrogators who seek vital intelligence about Al Qaeda and other terrorists in the field. Unlike the salons of Paris, London or now Washington, D.C., the CIA and U.S. military operate in the real world, where innocent lives may depend on extracting information from evil doers intent on destroying us.

But that apparently doesn't matter to Obama, who with a swipe of his pen, has decided that he and the other liberals now in charge of our national security apparatus know more about security than does the current head of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, who has testified repeatedly in front of Congress that enhanced interrogation techniques are critically important to our security. Rather than study the issue from the inside and take some time to make the right decision on this important issue, Obama has placed politics over public safety in unilaterally disarming our intelligence officials as a grand act of political theater.

The left believes that some quid pro quo will exist between us and our enemies; that somehow us living up to our ideals will make a difference with those who seek our destruction and are willing to go to any lengths to ensure it. It is hard to believe that smart people can be so naive as to the real nature of the threats arrayed against us.

I've said many times that the left lives in a fantasy world of their own making, and this is further proof that with the Democrats in charge we will be in greater danger because of it.