WASHINGTON -- It's a tough time to be a member of the U.S. armed forces. Those serving in our all-volunteer military -- and their families -- are stretched and stressed by more than nine years of war. Unfortunately, our commander in chief -- supposedly the champion of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen and Marines -- isn't doing anything to make serving in uniform any easier.
President Barack Obama -- fresh from his 3 1/2-hour "visit" to Afghanistan -- continues to insist that the U.S. Senate act immediately to allow active homosexuals to serve in the military. He followed up by announcing a paltry 1.4 percent pay raise for those serving in harm's way. In justifying this parsimony, Obama notes that he has "frozen the pay of all other government workers" -- as if feeling up airline passengers can somehow be equated with standing watch in the icy-cold winds sweeping down from the Hindu Kush.
Those are but two of the icebergs threatening to sink our military. On the 69th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, we learned from the director of national intelligence that 25 percent of the detainees transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention facility are either "confirmed" or "suspected" of rejoining terrorists waging war against us. According to the DNI's unclassified report to Congress, "of the 150 former (Guantanamo) detainees assessed as confirmed or suspected of reengaging in terrorist or insurgent activities, the Intelligence Community assesses that 13 are dead, 54 are in custody, and 83 remain at large." The DNI notes that of the 66 detainees transferred since Obama took office, only two are "confirmed" and three are "suspected."
Though the report does not specify how many U.S. troops have been killed or wounded as a consequence of the detainee transfer program, White House officials say that the Obama administration still is committed to "closing the prison at Guantanamo" and that it will "move toward that goal in a way that best protects the American people." That assurance is scant comfort to the families of troops returning home in flag-draped coffins or those recovering in military hospitals from life-altering wounds inflicted by terrorists turned loose from detention in Guantanamo.
Continuing the atrocious catch-and-release policy at "Gitmo" puts Americans on the battlefield at greater risk. But it doesn't stop there. The administration's unwillingness or inability to bring charges against those responsible for posting hundreds of thousands of pages of classified documents on the Internet also puts U.S. troops in jeopardy.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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