Obama campaigned against the Bush approach to fighting terrorism. We elected him. Does he owe us follow through?
In the clip above, neoconservative David Frum and civil libertarian Glenn Greenwald conduct a riveting argument about the War on Terrorism. They share these beliefs: 1) the September 11 attacks caused Republicans and Democrats alike to conceive of anti-terrorism as war rather than a matter of criminal justice; 2) Election 2004 marked the arrival of the Democratic Party's dissent from that paradigm -- a core John Kerry assertion was that terrorists should be treated like criminals; 3) In 2008, the Democratic Party and its standard bearer, Barack Obama, denounced various Bush Administration anti-terrorism policies in the strongest language imaginable; 4) Since taking office, President Obama has embraced many of the very policies he once denounced, and most Democrats haven't objected anywhere near as forcefully as they once did.
What these men disagree about is whether this "bipartisan national security state" is a good thing. Greenwald insists that Obama's campaign rhetoric and subsequent victory obligates him to follow through. "When a presidential candidate stands up and repeatedly says that our counter-terrorism policy is a fundamental betrayal of our values," he argued, "that it requires fundamental change; that I intend to reverse it all and restore who America is, what our values are, and the rule of law; and to eliminate these policies, and close Guantanamo, and no longer hold people without due process, and no longer treat this as some kind of global battlefield, but instead to do it in comportment with our values and our legal principles -- that becomes a covenant between him and the American people, and when he violates it that's a bad thing."