FP: The Counterterrorism Consensus

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FP: The Counterterrorism Consensus

Postby AverageJoe » Tue Feb 14, 2012 11:39 am

A look at why Democrats war on terror doesn't look different from the Republicans and will probably never change, no matter who is in office.

The Counterterrorism Consensus

There are few areas of greater disappointment for liberal supporters of President Barack Obama than his policies on civil liberties. From the failure to close Guantanamo Bay and his ramped up drone war to the continued reliance on indefinite detention, military commissions for accused terrorists, and the recent National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that potentially allows for the killing of American citizens without due process, Obama's presidency, or so the argument goes, has been one broken promise after another.


Still base partisanship may not fully capture what is happening here. Rather, the more likely conclusion is that no matter who is sitting in the White House there will be strong support for policies that are seen to be thwarting terrorists and keeping Americans safe -- no matter the legality or moral probity.


Shutting down Gitmo might have elicited polite applause on the campaign trail or a nod of the head, but that was before it meant terrorists would be shipped from Cuba to prisons in Illinois or for trials in New York City. And this, says political pollster and former Clinton administration National Security Council official Jeremy Rosner, activated the NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) effect.


Today, with U.S. engagement over in Iraq and winding down in Afghanistan, the drone war looks like the single best means for keeping potential terrorists at bay -- and, more important, keeping U.S. troops out of harm's way. Indeed, at the same time that Americans want to maintain current policies on drones and detention they are also strongly supportive of returning troops home from Afghanistan.


In fairness, Obama -- even if he wanted to -- likely wouldn't be able to shut down Guantanamo (though he remains in support of closing the facility) or hold civilian trials for alleged terrorists in the United States. As for the drones, that policy isn't likely to stop unless the United States runs out of terrorists to kill.
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