Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Professional Hack Marc Thiessen Strikes Again

It seems like only yesterday we had a President whose speechwriters had him declaring that key terrorists were "wanted, dead or alive", and (even if it meant distorting their statements) ridiculing those who suggested that we might approach international terrorism "as a law enforcement matter" instead of as a full-scale military conflict. One might recall how U.S. forces attacked the hiding place of Saddam Hussein's sons, and how the Bush Administration proudly shared with the world post-mortem photographs of Uday and Qusay. How, in 2003, Bush bragged, "nearly one-half of al-Qaida's senior operatives have been captured or killed", and how he described the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi following the bombing of his safehouse as "a severe blow to Al Qaeda and ... a significant victory in the war on terror" - a line that may have been penned by Marc Thiessen, then a member of his speechwriting team.

Oh, but that was then, this is now. Marc Thiessen would have us believe that he has his knickers in a twist over the Obama Administration's decision to bomb the hideout of "Saleh Ali Nabhan, al-Qaeda's leader in East Africa and also a senior leader in al-Shabab", when he at least theoretically could have send forces in on the ground to try to capture him for later interrogation. Crocodile tears pour down his face that, "thanks to a decision by Obama, all that intelligence was vaporized. Why did the president choose to kill, rather than capture, Nabhan?" Why, oh why....

Basically, President Obama followed the same approach as Bush, determining that there was undue risk to U.S. soldiers in trying to capture a suspected terrorist leader, and followed the same approach as Bush in bombing that person's hideout instead of attempting to capture him alive. Were Thiessen on Obama's speechwriting team, no doubt he would (perhaps again) be penning speeches in which Obama bragged about the death as "a severe blow to Al Qaeda and a significant victory in the war on terror". But he's an unprincipled hack so, instead, he's arguing that Obama erred in not treating a known international terrorist in the manner of a criminal suspect, somebody to be arrested and interrogated, but certainly not killed.

Don't fool yourself, though - had Obama followed Thiessen's after-the-fact advice and launched a raid on Nabhan's hideout, and had that raid either failed to capture Nabhan or resulted in the death of a soldier, Thiessen would be among the first to (once again) deplore the President for confusing the war on terror with a "law enforcement matter".

I can almost hear the sneer, "I wonder if Obama read Nabhan his Miranda rights."

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