Obama Speech: Same Policies, Slightly New Package
ANSWER responds to President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University
May 23, 2013
President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University today was another exercise in misdirection and illusion regarding the administration’s unprecedented use of drone military strikes that have killed more than 5,000 people, the majority of whom were civilians, including a large number of children.
Under pressure from a growing international grassroots protest movement demanding the end of drone strikes and the closure of the Guantanamo torture center, Obama’s speech was crafted to address both issues.
He acknowledged that civilians were killed by his drone strikes and said that he would be “haunted” by their deaths, but he made it clear that the strikes would continue.
Although he spoke far more eloquently than George W. Bush, the president used the Bush-created legal architecture to permit the president to kill anyone, anywhere if he labeled them as a terrorist. Obama said that his previously secret “legal basis” for targeted killings was actually the Authorization of Military Use Force (AMUF) that Bush rammed through Congress shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Demagogically he called again for the closure of Guantanamo, which has been labeled a torture center by the United Nations. He said that the failure to close the facility was seen by the whole world as a “flouting [of] the rule of law” by the United States. But he neglected to say that he has refused to use the vast authority of the presidency to actually close Guantanamo. Rather he is placing the blame on Congress rather than acting.