WASHINGTON: Republicans criticized President Barack Obama on Sunday for what they described as a retreat in the war against terrorism when they said the world’s crises demand a more aggressive, vigilant United States.
In a speech Thursday at the National Defense University in Washington, Obama said he would narrow the use of drone attacks against suspected terrorists and seek to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said on Fox News Sunday that he had “never been more worried about national security” and called the president “tone deaf” on the issue.
“I see a big difference between the president saying the war’s at an end and whether or not you’ve won the war,” said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. “We have still tremendous threats out there, that are building — not declining, building — and to not recognize that, I think, is dangerous in the long run and dangerous for the world.”
Democrats such as Sen. Charles Schumer of New York defended the president’s anti-terrorism policy, contending that the revised approach would address concerns about the lack of transparency in the deployment of drones without sacrificing security.
“There are new types of threats that we have to be vigilant about. But he said, under this long-term war on terror, where small groups of individuals can hurt us, we need some rules,” Schumer said. “We need some rules, we need some transparency, so American citizens and the citizens of the world know we’re not just going willy-nilly. Having transparency, having rules and engaging other activities other than military to help curb the war on terror — diplomacy, economic sanctions and things like that — is going to be useful as well.”
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has bucked his party’s support of wide-ranging drone strikes, in March leading a filibuster in the Senate over concerns that the government could kill U.S. citizens with drone strikes without giving them due process.
On ABC’s This Week, Paul said the president’s new policy on drone strikes did not satisfy his qualms. “Due process to most of us is a court of law. It’s a trial by a jury,” Paul said. “And right now their process is him looking at some flashcards and a PowerPoint presentation on ’Terror Tuesdays’ in the White House. For a lot of us, that’s not really due process.”