Part I: Obama Versus McCain on National Security, Obama’s Position

Continued from page 5…

I also will reject a legal framework that does not work. There has been only one conviction at Guantanamo. It was for a guilty plea on material support for terrorism. The sentence was 9 months. There has not been one conviction of a terrorist act. I have faith in America’s courts, and I have faith in our JAGs. As President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions Act, and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing with the terrorists.

Abdallah Salih al-Ajmi was released from Guantanamo and became a suicide bomber: According to the Defense Intelligence Agency, “As many as 36 former Guantanamo detainees have taken part in violent acts against Western targets after their release”. Great idea Senator, let the rest of them out, and release Charles Manson in the US as well.

This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

We get it Senator, you want a catch and release program to save the endangered terrorist. So, let’s get this straight, you will spend billions to give us the ability to target and capture terrorists, but if you manage to catch them alive, you will let them go. Are we hearing that right?

That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

We had all those things before 9/11 Senator. They didn’t work in any way to prevent it.

This Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America, and that is why the fifth part of my strategy is doing the hard and patient work to secure a more resilient homeland.

Too often this Administration’s approach to homeland security has been to scatter money around and avoid hard choices, or to scare Americans without telling them what to be scared of, or what to do. A Department set up to make Americans feel safer didn’t even show up when bodies drifted through the streets in New Orleans. That’s not acceptable.

My Administration will take an approach to homeland security guided by risk. I will establish a Quadrennial Review at the Department of Homeland Security – just like at the Pentagon – to undertake a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our ability to confront them. And I will develop a comprehensive National Infrastructure Protection Plan that draws on both local know-how and national priorities.

OK, sounds good. We have absolutely no idea what that means and most people don’t.

We have to put resources where our infrastructure is most vulnerable. That means tough and permanent standards for securing our chemical plants. Improving our capability to screen cargo and investing in safeguards that will prevent the disruption of our ports. And making sure our energy sector – our refineries and pipelines and power grids – is protected so that terrorists cannot cripple our economy.

We figure that is at the revolving door you seem to suggest for captured terrorists.

We also have to get past a top-down approach. Folks across America are the ones on the front lines. On 9/11, it was citizens – empowered by their knowledge of the World Trade Center attacks – who protected our government by heroically taking action on Flight 93 to keep it from reaching our nation’s capital. When I have information that can empower Americans, I will share it with them.

We have been dying to know about those UFOs Senator. Promise?

Information sharing with state and local governments must be a two-way street, because we never know where the two pieces of the puzzle are that might fit together – the tip from Afghanistan, and the cop who sees something suspicious on Michigan Avenue. I will increase funding to help train police to gather information and connect it to the intelligence they receive from the federal government.

More increased funding. Wow. Every plan you have is another spending program.

I will address the problem in our prisons, where the most disaffected and disconnected Americans are being explicitly targeted for conversion by al Qaeda and its ideological allies.

We have an idea, all future terrorists we capture can be sent to our prisons to train the disconnected and disaffected! Or we can just release them like those at Guantanamo.

And my Administration will not permit more lives to be lost because emergency responders are not outfitted with the communications capability and protective equipment their job requires, or because the federal government is too slow to respond when disaster strikes. We’ve been through that on 9/11. We’ve been through it during Katrina. I will ensure that we have the resources and competent federal leadership we need to support our communities when American lives are at stake.

But this effort can’t just be about what we ask of our men and women in uniform. It can’t just be about how we spend our time or our money.

It’s about the kind of country we are.

You are right, it can’t be just about how we spend our money, but man, you sure talk about spending money a bunch.

We are in the early stages of a long struggle. Yet since 9/11, we’ve heard a lot about what America can’t do or shouldn’t do or won’t even try. We can’t vote against a misguided war in Iraq because that would make us look weak, or talk to other countries because that would be a reward. We can’t reach out to the hundreds of millions of Muslims who reject terror because we worry they hate us. We can’t protect the homeland because there are too many targets, or secure our people while staying true to our values. We can’t get past the America of Red and Blue, the politics of who’s up and who’s down.

That is not the America that I know.

You don’t know it? So you admit you are describing what you think and not what you know?

The conclusion to your plan is just verbiage we cannot respond to. There are few plans here other than throwing money at the problem, bailing on Iraq in favor of Afghanistan and the threat to violate Pakistan’s borders. The rest is a guilt trip on America and its military and an insult to our leaders in the military leading the Surge. Quite honestly, Senator, if this is the best you have, you are not worthy of being President. As your own running mate said, Senator, this Presidency isn’t a great place for on the job training.

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