Is Cheney keeping Obama relatively “honest”?

Andy McCarthy made a shrewd observation in response to Jack Goldsmith’s discussion about the extent to which President Obama has largely adopted the anti-terrorism policies of President Bush — an observation that is particularly relevant following today’s “dueling speeches” of Obama and Dick Cheney. Andy writes:

I think there’s a critical question that needs asking — and it goes to a big plus for Vice Presdient Cheney that should be entered into the mix. Clearly, President Obama has reversed himself on many national security policies, and that is all to the good. But on how many would he have reversed himself if the Veep had not been out there making the case?. . .

As it happens, I think Obama HAS made us less safe — I don’t see how Jack or anyone else can argue otherwise until someone satisfactorily explains such matters as (a) releasing Binyam Mohammed, (b) the decision to plead Ali al-Marri out for a song, and (c) the lunatic effort to relocate trained alien terrorists in the U.S. — to live freely and at taxpayer largesse despite U.S. immigration law that renders them inadmissible. Nevertheless, Obama has made us LESS less safe than he otherwise would have precisely because Cheney has been making the counter-case and has been incredibly effective doing so.

I would like to believe — and I find it plausible — that Obama has maintained much of Bush’s anti-terrorism policies for the reasons Goldsmith cited in his article and, in particular because “the Bush policies reflect longstanding executive branch positions” and “the presidency invariably gives its occupants a sober outlook on problems of national security.” However, I can’t state with confidence that Goldsmith’s explanations are correct and sufficient. Therefore, I join with Andy in saluting the former vice president’s efforts to hold Obama’s feet to the fire.

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