Inside Opinion

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Tag: Obama administration

June
20th

America’s mysteriously multiplying military missions

I hope I wasn’t the only one startled last year when U.S. and British forces suddenly blitzed Libya with more than 100 Tomahawk missiles and other shock-and-awe stuff, a barrage that presaged the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi.

Last April, another surprise: Someone in the Obama administration deigned to inform the public that the U.S. Army had boots on the ground in the Central African Republic, where special forces are hunting for warlord Joseph Kony.

Only 100 pairs of boots, but live American soldiers fighting in a poorly understood foreign country nonetheless. (There had to be only 100 pairs of

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Nov.
29th

The Iran of WikiLeaks is a scary country indeed

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Julian Assange, the chief of WikiLeaks, is a pirate willing to endanger people’s lives with mass releases of secret U.S. military, intelligence and diplomatic documents.

But he’s no worse than whoever stole those documents in the first place. Suspicion has settled on Pfc. Bradley Manning, an unhappy 22-year-old Army intelligence analyst, who’s been arrested and charged with downloading thousands of highly sensitive and classified messages while deployed in Iraq.

Does the U.S. Army really give low-ranking soldiers in their early 20s access to secret communiqués whose exposure could threaten American foreign policy? The Defense Department now promises to track users of its information systems the same way credit card companies track card-users to detect fraud. It seems that MasterCard has a better handle on computer security than the Pentagon.

So far, news accounts of the leaked diplomatic messages suggest there are no outright bombshells among them. Like previously leaked dispatches and reports from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they mostly filled in the details of a larger picture already known to the public.

It comes as no surprise, for example, that Hamid Karzai’s brother is corrupt, Arab leaders are terrified of Iran’s nuclear program, America has been unable to keep Iranian weapons from reaching Hezbollah in Lebanan and al-Qaida continues to receive enormous funds from Saudi donors.

Some of the messages are downright comical. The Obama administration is depicted as begging and bribing foreign countries to take Guantanamo detainees of its hands. Slovenia was offered a visit with Obama. Belgium was told that taking more prisoners would be “a low-cost way for Belgium to attain prominence in Europe.”
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May
11th

With safeguards, let those terror suspects talk

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

Somebody in the White House should have winced Sunday when Attorney General Eric Holder raised the possibility of more Miranda-less questioning of terror suspects.

“We’re now dealing with international terrorism,” he said about the attempted Times Square bombing, describing it as a “new threat.” The “now” and “new” suggest that that the bomber’s apparent Taliban connection was a big surprise that has suddenly required the Obama administration to rethink how it handles suspects.

Let’s hope Holder and others in the administration weren’t caught that flat-footed. There’s nothing remotely new about international terrorism; the World Trade Center was first bombed in 1993, and the likes of al-Qaida have been targeting the United States ever since.

The supposed novelty of an international attack has at least given the Obama administration a pretext for re-examining its overly rigid practice of reading Miranda rights almost immediately to suspected terrorists arrested on American soil.

This conventional police approach is clearly a reaction to abuses of the Bush era. It’s also an overreaction.
Delaying a Miranda warning or questioning someone as an enemy combatant, by themselves, are not the same as torture or extraordinary rendition. Extended questioning without a warning can be done within the law. There’s also room to legally expand the practice, as Holder seemed to be conceding.
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