The Republicans in Congress made a splash today, taking on the president’s conduct on the war on terror with a multi-pronged media attack. They think they have found a chink in Barack Obama’s armor: he has turned national security into a series of PR stunts. Emboldened by polling data showing that the president’s moves to shut Guantanamo and potentially investigate and prosecute Bush administration officials for formulating interrogation techniques are unpopular, they are beginning to sound the alarm and take on the president directly.
Minority Leader John Boehner and Pete Hoekstra, ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee, have turned out a new video. “Do you feel safer?” they ask. The message is simple: releasing the CIA interrogation memos, halting enhanced interrogation techniques, and shutting Guantanamo without a viable alternative facility for the terrorists may please the Left, but do not enhance national security.
This comes at a time when Attorney General Eric Holder is in Europe trolling for offers to take the Guantanamo terrorists off our hands. So far only Britain and France have taken any (one each), although Holder seemed sunny about the prospects that others will step forward. Even more startling, Holder did not rule out assisting European governments in their prosecution of former Bush officials, as the Washington Post reported:
Holder did not rule it out. “Obviously, we would look at any request that would come from a court in any country and see how and whether we should comply with it,” he said. “This is an administration that is determined to conduct itself by the rule of law.”
All of that was too much for Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who took to the Senate floor today, declaring:
It’s clear from these remarks that the administration is putting symbolism ahead of safety. This becomes even more apparent from Attorney General Holder’s admission that closing Guantanamo will be ‘one of the most daunting challenges’ he will face. He clearly realizes what most Americans realize: closing Guantanamo is not a good option if no safe alternatives exist.
[T]he Attorney General was asked in Berlin if any of the detainees could be put up in hotels. According to the Associated Press report on the meeting, the Attorney General joked that, quote, “hotels might be a possibility, it depends on where the hotel is.”