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The Obama administration, to prevent public exposure of intelligence-gathering sources and methods, used the same “state secrets” defense in court as did the Bush administration. Obama continues the policy of rendition, the much-maligned practice of transferring a terrorist prisoner of war from one foreign country to another country that utilizes far harsher interrogation techniques. Guantanamo remains open because the prison contains some vicious terrorists that no country wants. The terror surveillance phone-monitoring program remains, as does the Patriot Act. Obama stepped up the use of drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Even Obama’s declaration to halt waterboarding contains wiggle room.
To the shock of Bush-haters, the Obama Justice Department — while disagreeing with the conclusions of the Bush lawyers who drafted the so-called “torture memo,” which provided a legal basis for waterboarding — cleared the lawyers of wrongdoing.
Obama negotiated “tough” sanctions against Iran, although Russia, China, India and Turkey continue to trade with that country or have announced plans to do so. Iran remains committed to its nuclear program, continues to threaten Israel, and claims to have dug mass graves in which to deposit bodies of American soldiers should the U.S. use military force to stop its nuclear program.
Despite Obama’s request, NATO allies refuse to commit more combat troops to Afghanistan and some countries announced an end to their involvement. Iraq appears to be winding down along the terms negotiated by the Bush administration, but allies are no more eager to help out in Afghanistan.
Now 20 months into the Obama presidency, the question is this: After Obama’s “detente” — and after alienating our two closest allies — how does the Arab and Muslim world now view America? What percentage in the same six Arab nations — compared with Bush’s last year in office — now views the United States “very unfavorably” or “somewhat unfavorably”?
The answer: 85 percent — 2 points higher than Bush.
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