Jacob Sullum

While it's true that Republican legislators have interfered with Obama's attempt to close Guantanamo, he has considerable leeway to reduce the prison's population without congressional approval, as he demonstrated by lifting a self-imposed moratorium on freeing Yemenis, who account for two-thirds of the 86 low-level detainees cleared for release. And even without Republican obstruction, Obama plans to keep some Guantanamo detainees in the legal limbo he decries as an affront to the rule of law -- just at a different location.

Similarly, the same president who has used the "state secrets" doctrine to block lawsuits by victims of torture and targets of warrantless surveillance also called for "careful constraints on the tools the government uses to protect sensitive information, such as the state secrets doctrine." Obama doubled down on the hypocrisy by condemning torture and calling for "privacy protections" (even while advocating an expansion of the government's snooping abilities).

What else about Obama's national security policies bothers Obama? "I'm troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," he said, presumably referring to the FBI's use of administrative subpoenas to demand two months of Associated Press telephone records after the organization published a story about a foiled terrorist raid. Maybe he also had in mind the Justice Department's consideration of criminal charges against journalists who obtain classified information.

In short, Obama raised many valid points about executive power run amuck. If only he had the president's ear.


Jacob Sullum

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason magazine and a contributing columnist on Townhall.com.
 
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