Many of the deepest concerns about President Obama’s Middle East and terror policies have been justified by recent revelations. This raises a serious question: should legal action be taken when an Administration forges a path that diverges sharply from widely accepted norms, is accomplished in an intentionally deceptive manner, and produces unsuccessful and harmful results.
There can no longer be any significant doubt that the prior White House charted a course in international affairs that differed widely from its predecessors of either party. In that one sense, it was similar in some ways to the path set by Donald Trump, but there the similarity ends. The current President has been very vocal, critics say excessively so, about both his goals and his methods, and there has been no skirting of federal statutes.
The fact that Obama was not candid about either his methods or his goals, and, frankly, misled the public when unwanted results occurred, may have been overlooked if they had produced any measure of success, but that did not occur. The withdrawal from Iraq led to the empowerment of ISIS, and the consistent favoritism towards Iran did not diminish that nation’s belligerence, its hatred for America, or its’ financing of global terror. The former White House’s bizarre support for the overthrow of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak resulted in his replacement with a Muslim Brotherhood regime (itself eventually overturned) and the unprecedented negotiations with the Taliban did nothing to soften that terrorist entity’s stance. Most unusual of all was Obama’s inexplicable assistance in the deposing of Libya’s Gaddafi, who posed no threat, and the resulting chaos in that section of North Africa. The Administration’s overt misleading of the American public about the cause of the subsequent Benghazi disaster added to the voters’ mistrust.
In a 2015 Investors Business Daily article, it was noted that “History will not be kind to President Obama’s effectiveness in fighting terrorism. His record is terrible…” There exists no cogent explanation concerning Obama’s apology speech in Cairo, his release of terrorists from Guantanamo, his orders to intelligence services to eliminate the phrase “jihad,” his stonewalling of investigations into the terrorist links of the Moslem Brotherhood, and his orders to federal agencies to ignore Hezbollah’s drug running.
In contrast, there is a growing perception that President Trumps’ very vocal and overt policies have produced sanguinary results, particularly with Saudi Arabia, and in the devastation of the ISIS caliphate. The public mood may turn further against the actions of the Obama Administration, and calls for legal action will result, with recent revelations that real, direct harm was suffered by the American population due to the former president’s ardent attempts to appease—some might say romance—Iran.
In the widely divergent perspectives about the numerous challenges facing the United States, there is a general consensus that the illegal narcotics trade is harmful. Yet two actions by the Obama Administration–the “Fast and Furious” gunwalking scandal, and the hands-off orders from the Oval Office relating to the drug operations of the Iran-financed Hezbollah terror group—criminal and terrorist organizations funneling drugs to the U.S. population were abetted. Both of those White House actions were of questionable legality, as was the attempted cover-up of them.
There is a clear argument that the penalties for such actions by an Administration are reserved for the political arena. Disgruntled voters will have the chance to vote the perpetrator out of office. That provides little remedy, however, to a President in his second term. Nor can there can be a reasonable expectation that any White House will, or even should, be wholly candid about all of its methods.
But when a President engages in actions so far from precedent, without any consultation of Congress, in a manner which endangers the American public and crosses the line from justifiable covert operations to recklessness, it is appropriate to consider legal penalties.
This article, written by Frank Vernuccio, editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy & Government, first appeared in the American Spectator.