POWELL ISN’T BUYING GOP SPIN, EITHER…. To the extent that Colin Powell is considered a credible figure on national security and foreign policy — and for most Americans, he is, notwithstanding his tragic associations with selling the war in Iraq — I suspect the Obama administration is pleased to have his support.
Yesterday, on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” host Bob Schieffer noted that Dick Cheney has invested heavily in trying to convince Americans that President Obama “is putting the nation’s security at risk.” Schieffer asked Powell if there’s any truth to the attack on the administration.
Powell recited a series of security measures the Bush administration had put in place, and which Obama left intact. He added that President Obama has increased the effort against the Taliban and has been even more aggressive in targeting al Qaeda. “So,” Powell said, “I don’t know where the claim comes that we are less safe.”
With respect to torture, Powell reminded the audience that even the Bush administration, towards the end of its second term, had “done away” with nearly all of the “extreme interrogation techniques” endorsed by Cheney.
With respect to military commissions, Powell added, “In eight years the military commissions have put three people on trial. Two of them served relatively short sentences and are free. One guy is in jail. Meanwhile, the federal courts — our Article III, regular legal court system — has put dozens of terrorists in jail and they’re fully capable of doing it. So the suggestion that somehow a military commission is the way to go isn’t borne out by the history of the military commissions. I think a lot of people think ‘just give them to the military and the military will hammer them.’ Well, guess what, officers in the military are obliged to follow the Constitution.”
As for a “bottom-line answer,” Powell added, “The nation is still at risk. Terrorists are out there. They’re trying to get through. But to suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don’t think are borne out by the facts.”
The remarks were a further reminder of the isolated nature of the Cheney wing — the dominant wing — of the Republican Party. The Obama administration’s positions are enjoying the support of Powell, Gen. Petraeus, Adm. Mullen, the Pentagon, and national security experts from across the spectrum.
On the other hand we have the Cheneys and congressional Republicans, whose record on these issues is littered with painful failures, and whose credibility should be considered laughable among anyone who takes reality seriously.