TOO WEAK AND TOO TOUGH AT THE SAME TIME…. I suppose it was only a matter of time before far-right voices started criticizing President Obama for having too much success killing terrorists. Here’s former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen, writing, “Dead Terrorists Tell No Tales.”
The CIA reportedly succeeded in killing the head of the Pakistani Taliban — the most recent in a flurry of drone attacks the agency has launched in South Asia and the Middle East. Another strike in Pakistan reportedly took out one of the FBI’s most wanted terrorists; another in Pakistan took out a master bomb-maker for the al Qaeda affiliate in the Philippines, Abu Sayyaf; and a strike in Yemen targeted a senior military leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the group behind the Christmas Day attack (his fate has yet to be determined).
President Barack Obama’s escalation of drone strikes is one area in the counterterrorism fight where he has earned plaudits from even his most vocal critics on the right. Hold the applause. Obama’s escalation of the “Predator War” comes at the very same time he has eliminated the CIA’s capability to capture senior terrorist leaders alive and interrogate them for information on new attacks.
I see. The conservative line for the better part of a year is that President Obama isn’t doing enough to go after terrorists. Reality shows the exact opposite is true, but for the right, this is an inconvenient detail best ignored.
If Thiessen’s piece is any indication, however, the argument is now shifting. President Obama is doing too much to go after terrorists, and is taking out too many bad guys before they can be captured and tortured.
I can see the campaign slogans now: “Vote GOP: Obama kills too many terrorists.”
Matt Yglesias, who’s been doing a fine job making Thiessen look painfully foolish of late, added, “[Thiessen] thinks torture is an excellent thing, and like the leaders of the Spanish Inquisition he thinks it’s morally obligatory for the government to torture people. From inside this twisted mental space, the notion that killing terrorists is too soft on terror starts to make sense. After all, in Thiessenland it’s better to let four terrorists go free if that lets you torture a fifth. That’s just how awesome he thinks torture is. But he won’t write the word ‘torture’ or say clearly ‘the problem with Obama killing these terrorists is that he should be torturing them.’”
Post Script: Just as an aside, Thiessen noted the president has “earned plaudits” from the right for striking at terrorists. He disagrees with the praise, but stated as fact that conservatives have lauded Obama’s efforts. I’m not at all sure that’s true. Has there been a spate of praise for the administration’s counter-terrorism efforts that has snuck quietly under the radar? Where have these conservative “plaudits” been hiding the past year?