Photo credit: Rolling Stone
My expectations for Barack Obama’s speech yesterday were guarded at best, given the deficits in his transparency to date. I was pleasantly surprised. To begin, here is the complete video of the speech, or, if you prefer, the complete text of the speech is here.
On the use of drones, I mostly agree with him. While innocent people have been killed in drone strikes, the odds are very high that more innocent people would be killed in a strike with conventional bombs or a ground attack by infantry. I support requiring a court to authorize drone strikes. I also support transferring control of drone operations from the CIA to the military. Frankly, the CIA spends far too much effort in field operations. The more of their resources they spend on operations, the less effective they have become at their main purpose, intelligence gathering. That puts us all at greater risk.
On Guantanamo Bay, I think these steps are all he can do without Congress. The prison there would have been closed years ago, had Congress not intervened to prevent it.
Chris Hayes discussed the speech with Keith Ellison (D-MN).
I particularly liked Obama’s willingness to give back power. I do not remember seeing any other President do so.
I found Medea Benjamin from Code Pink both rude and offensive. Her tactics were worthy of the Republican Party. She used a technique called piling on or dump trucking. It involves evading honest communication with a barrage of so many different complaints and accusations that the other person cab not reasonably answer all at once. I am very familiar with it, because it is one of the ‘criminal thinking errors’ that I teach prisoners to recognize and avoid using. I have never seen a President stop to give a protester an opportunity to have an honest dialogue in the middle of a major speech. She blew it! She was not interested in that, and that is a shame.
All things considered, I thought it was one of Obama’s most effective speeches ever. How those ideas are transformed to action remains to be seen. Of one thing we can be sure. The Republican Party will do everything possible to sabotage his efforts.