Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Decisions Reinvented

After Barack Obama was elected I had a series of conversations with an Illinois blogger who claimed to know Obama and worked with him in Illinois. His one quibble with the President-elect was his reputation as a wishy-washy decision maker. In effect he claimed Obama frequently changed his mind and reversed earlier decisions.

Why do I bring up this hearsay now? Because President Obama seems to be demonstrating this behavior in the oval office. At least twice now he has clearly embarrassed his top aides and left them hanging in the breeze.

First Obama did it by absolutely contradicting his administration's representatives during the AIG Bonus disclosure. But yesterday's reversal on investigation and possible criminal prosecution of Bush administration officials for "enhanced interrogation" is even more telling.

Here's the report from
The Boston Globe:

President Obama left the door open yesterday to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and did not rule out action by the Justice Department against those who fashioned the legal rationale for those techniques.

The remarks, in response to questions from reporters in the Oval Office, amounted to a shift for the White House. The president had repeatedly said that the nation should look forward rather than focusing on the past, and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said Sunday in a television interview that Obama believed that "those who devised policy" should not be prosecuted.

But under intense pressure from congressional Democrats and human rights organizations to investigate, the president suggested yesterday that he would not stand in the way of a full inquiry into what he has called "a dark and painful chapter" in the nation's history.

The comments knocked the ordinarily smooth White House press operation back on its heels. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, spent much of his daily briefing yesterday trying to explain precisely what Obama had meant, declaring at one point, "To clear up any confusion on anything that might have been said, I would point you to what the president said."

The real questions all remain. Why did President Obama clearly reverse a decision he had so clearly made and articulated for many months. It was extremely obvious from Rahm Emanuel's smooth and articulate performance under fire on Sunday that this policy had been thoroughly vetted in White House meetings.

Why the flip-flop? Most speculation surrounds an uproar and very intense pressure from the left, led by the liberal activist group Move-On.org and key Congressional leaders.

Obviously left open is how this investigation and potential prosecution will play out. It will likely paralyze the administration and Congress for months and perhaps years. Clearly President Obama had (past tense) wanted to avoid this modern day version of the Spanish Inquisition. Yet he has now put the drama into full motion.

Most important, in my opinion, will be the paralyzing impact this ill advised reversal will have on the CIA and President Obama's own executive staff and advisers.

I've seen this type of second guessing absolutely destroy organizations. It doesn't produce better opinions. It stops all opinions all together. President Obama will quickly start receiving less advice from staffers, especially second level staffers who do 95% of all work in the administration. Folks quickly figure out they never get in trouble for saying nothing. Being non-committal is the new order of the day.

The 9-11 Commission placed great blame for the failure of our intelligence community on the restrictive policies in place to prevent abuses by the intelligence community. There is no doubt in my mind this will ultimately harm our nation's intelligence gathering efforts. Once again we will be unable to connect the dots.

I genuinely believe President Obama had thought through all of this. I simply don't understand yet why the President reinvented his decision.

5 comments:

Will "take no prisoners" Hart said...

I think, Wiz, that he'll probably "reinvent" back to where he started. A lot of Democratic senators on the Intelligence Committee were briefed on these "techniques" and he's not going to want to hang these people out to dry.

Lee said...

Anyone else noting a pattern with Pres. Obama?

MadMike said...

I don't see any "reinvention" here. Obama has been consistent throughout, without even seeing the so-called memos. Regardless he is now the president. Bush is gone, along with Cheney and the other nuts that ran America into the ground during their eight years of incompetence and greed. So get used to it! The Dems are the party in power and the Repubs are out. America and the world is so much better off.....

Lee said...

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pwnd him. Fidel Castro, just called him superficial.
Originally he said, "We can't keep looking to the past. We've got to look to the future here. So I don't think it would serve any purpose to prosecute or investigate former administration officials on these interrogations the CIA did." All of a sudden he changes his mind!
Obama doesn't know what he's doing, he has no clue what's going on in his own administration. Janet Napolitano said the 9/11 hijackers actually got into our country through Canada. The National Post in Canada has a piece asking how did this woman get her job? She says it's not a crime to illegally enter the country, she is in charge of Homeland Security!
If Eric Holder or Conyers does investigations of former Bush administration officials, It will be about destroying and criminalizing policy circumstances with which you disagree. Nancy Pelosi signed off on all of this in 2002. When they were explained waterboarding and all this, nobody in Congress objected. So if Holder proceeds, he's going to have to send out subpoenas not just to the executive branch, he's going to have to send out subpoenas to the lawyers, the White House counsel and anybody else who had anything to do with this! Nobody's going to go work for the executive branch ever again.
During a photo-op with King Abdullah, he says, "I'm going to let Holder go ahead and do what he wants to do. If he wants to investigate these people in the Bush administration, fine.” (paraphrased) The White House press office was just blindsided by this. The director of communications in the White House, she quit. She resigned the White House!
It's embarrassing incompetence and inexperience.
Admiral Blair admitting the CIA received high value, lifesaving information from terrorists, while President Obama is condemning the same interrogations as immoral and counterproductive.
President Obama is throwing grand White House parties with Kobe beef, a hundred bucks a pound, while telling the nation to cut back in order to survive the greatest economic downturn supposedly since the Great Depression.
Bowing to the king of Saudi Arabia!
Listening patiently and respectfully while Daniel Ortega talks for 50 minutes about the “criminal country” he leads, Obama does not stand up for his country at one point during the Summit of the Americas.
He has run around the world and apologized for the greatest, most compassionate, most innovative and freedom-loving country in the world.
Then we have the nominations of five tax cheats to his cabinet, including the man who oversees the IRS.
We have Obama's press spokesman, who makes a complete idiot of himself daily.
He sends back a symbol of freedom, that bust of Sir Winston Churchill to Great Britain just after moving into the White House.
He insulted the prime minister of England, the queen of England, with embarrassing, thoughtless gifts.
We have the French president Sarkozy ridiculing Obama's messianic complex, inviting him to walk on water at Normandy beach.
We have Iran taking a hostage, an American journalist, as Obama promises better relations.
We have North Korea humiliating Obama with their missile launch.
We have Obama putting the country in debt for generations to come while promising fiscal responsibility, offering up laughable budget cuts,
Banning lobbyists from his administration, while appointing them left and right.
Lying that Caterpillar would hire more with the stimulus bill, then watching while that company lay’s off thousands after the bill passes.
He pledges to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. But then he keeps it open with no plan for its future.
Proclaiming total transparency, while keeping secret who got the TARP funds, when, where, why.
He is incapable of communicating without a teleprompter.
He attacks a private citizen broadcaster from the White House.
He makes a ham-handed attempt to nationalize the banks preventing financial institutions from paying back TARP money they don't need or want.
He has made bad situations worse with car manufacturers, and the worst is yet to come.
He has sparked hundreds of protests involving hundreds of thousands of Americans at tea parties regarding irresponsible government spending.
His Homeland Security chief labels peacefully demonstrating Americans and veterans as security risks.
Moved the census over to the Commerce department to politicize that.

Better off? Hardly.

Lee said...

I apologize for the lack of spacing. No clue how that got excised.