Tear out the front page at the Times! Here is the web site link:
Parallels Arise Between Bush And Obama On Security Issues
And the lead:
WASHINGTON — If President Obama tuned in to the past week’s bracing debate on Capitol Hill about terrorism, executive power, secrecy and due process, he might have recognized the arguments his critics were making: He once made some of them himself.
Four years into his tenure, the onetime critic of President George W. Bush finds himself cast as a present-day Mr. Bush, justifying the muscular application of force in the defense of the nation while detractors complain that he has sacrificed the country’s core values in the name of security.
Aside from the repressiveness of the policies themselves, there are three highly significant and enduring harms from Obama’s behavior. First, it creates the impression that Republicans were right all along in the Bush-era War on Terror debates and Democratic critics were wrong. The same theme is constantly sounded by conservatives who point out Obama’s continuation of these policies: that he criticized those policies as a candidate out of ignorance and partisan advantage, but once he became President, he realized they were right as a result of accessing the relevant classified information and needing to keep the country safe from the Terrorist threat. Goldsmith, for instance, claimed Obama changed his mind about these matters “after absorbing the classified intelligence and considering the various options.” GOP Sen. Susan Collins told the NYT‘s Baker that Obama “is finding that many of those policies were better-thought-out than they realized.” Cheney boasted that Obama “obviously has been through the fires of becoming President and having to make decisions and live with the consequences.”
There is that.
There is interesting but incomplete nuance at the Times:
The dissonance is due in part to the fact that Mr. Obama ran in 2008 against Mr. Bush’s first-term policies but, after winning, inherited Mr. Bush’s second-term policies.
By the time Mr. Bush left office, he had shaved off some of the more controversial edges of his counterterrorism program, both because of pressure from Congress and the courts and because he wanted to leave behind policies that would endure. He had closed the secret C.I.A. prisons, obtained Congressional approval for warrantless surveillance and military commissions, and worked to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
So while Mr. Obama banned harsh interrogation techniques, he preserved much of what he inherited, with some additional safeguards; expanded Mr. Bush’s drone campaign; and kept on veterans of the antiterrorism wars like Mr. Brennan. Some efforts at change were thwarted, like his vow to close the Guantánamo prison and to try Sept. 11 plotters in civilian court.
The enhanced interrogation program was scaled back but not banned under Bush.