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Author Topic: let us never again hear of Clinton and the USS Cole
RickyB
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In the past 2.5 years, much has been made (here and elsewhere) of Clinton's supposed failure to avenge the attack on the USS Cole. People have said that this gave the terrorists the idea that they could attack the US with impunity.

Explanations that Clinton dd not want to start major operations so close to an election, and left this job to the incoming administration, were brushed aside.

Well, during her testimony, Condoleeza Rice strongly defended the decision of the Bush administration not to do anything about that, and said that even in hindsight she stands by that decision.

Since Clinton did not hesitate to avenge the East African embassies, I find no reason to believe he would not have done the same about the Cole had it not happened a month before the end of his 2nd term.

So let us never again hear about that patricular incident as "proof" that Clinton wasn't strong enough in his response to terror. Can we all agree on that?

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John L
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Why not? The bible says that the 'truth shall set ye free'. Oh, is that New Testament? Sorry about that. You don't play by those rules, do you?
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mv
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quote:
Since Clinton did not hesitate to avenge the East African embassies
Would you consider never again calling destruction of aspirin factories "avenging?"
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WmLambert
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RickyB the problem with the Cole was that an agent suspected an attack on U.S. Warships in the Gulf was imminent and sent in his threat assessment - but those same managers who stopped all knowledge about cockpit doors and aviation threats from getting to anybody important - also accepted another bureaucrat's stupid paper that claimed attacks on U.S. warships was impossible. No threat assessment was given to the Cole. The attackers blew themselves up along with the 40 sailors on the Cole, and the retaliatory strikes that could have been made contemporaneously on assumed targets which may have had a connection could only be made on proven legitimate targets so many months after the attack. (Which is pretty much what Rice said.) The cheering onlookers had departed. Who were the targets after Bush took office? The Cole was attacked on October 12, 2000. Bush took office on in January 2001. Why was he expected to retaliate? Should he also have launched a search and destroy team into Somalia to locate Aidid?

Let it drop. The Cole was not avenged by Bush, because the ball had already been dropped by Clinton, months before. The only reason Rice was asked about it was to score partisan points. I'd say the eventual attack on Afghanistan and Iraq were pretty solid recompense for the Cole, and 9/11, and the 1993 Trade Center bombing, and the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, and for Somalia, and the Saudi Arabia car bombings, and the Khobar Towers, and all the other dropped balls.

Kerrey tried to ambush Rice on it and she was ready:
quote:
RICE: I'm aware, Mr. Kerrey, of a speech that you gave at that time that said that perhaps the best thing that we could do to respond to the Cole and to the memories was to do something about the threat of Saddam Hussein.

That's a strategic view...

(APPLAUSE)

And we took a strategic view. We didn't take a tactical view. I mean, it was really _ quite frankly, I was blown away when I read the speech, because it's a brilliant speech. It talks about really...

(LAUGHTER)

... an asymmetric...

KERREY: I presume you read it in the last few days?

RICE: Oh no, I read it quite a bit before that. It's an asymmetric approach.



[ April 09, 2004, 12:03 AM: Message edited by: WmLambert ]

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RickyB
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Johnny me boy, I got no problem with Yehoshua Ben Yosef of Nazereth. Fine upstanding Jew, spoke truth to power, stood up for the weak and oppressed, thought little of greedy capitalists, wore his hair long....my kinda guy. [Big Grin]

Had you been his contemporary, chances are you'd hate his guts and call him a girlie boy hippie defeatist.

Anyway, let me rephrase the header of this thread so even you can understand it: If you criticize Clinton for not avenging the Cole, you must crticize Bush just as much, if not more. Clinton left it to Bush. Bush CHOSE not to do anything about it.

Clinton had a month to act (a bit under three if you seriously want to argue that he should have done something after the elections). Bush had between twice to seven times that long.

Even if you believe that we must have retaliated, Clinton had a compelling reason not to do it himself. Bush had none.

So don't talk to me about truth here. Just concede the damn point for once.

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Murdok
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Don't hold your breath Ricky - it ain't going to happen man.
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Ray Bingham
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I know a lot of conservatives that were disappointed with Bush because he did nothing about the Cole thing. (I was.)

We are doing something about it now. And I think that's a good thing, I just pray we have the will to see it to an established and stable end.

We need to root out all these secret combinations of murder and terror until they have no place to hide and sue for peace.

--Ray

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RickyB
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No, we're doing something about something that's almost completely unrelated. As I said before, Tom slapped us in the back of the head, and after some insufficient kicking of Tom's ass, we then proceed to waste all our time and effort kicking Harry's ass, which pisses off our classmates (who see it as unfairly and cynically exploiting a justified grudge for the unjustified purpose of settling and old but unrelated score) and doesn't stop Tom from sneaking up on us again.

I think you're so releaved to finally see some decisive and forceful action (and rightly so), that you're willing to persuade yourself that that the blows are being landed in the right direction and in the right manner.

I apologize if this constitutes the sin of attributing motive.

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Ray Bingham
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Apology accepted.

Now, about that job of mine, and do you see prosperity in my future? [Wink]

--Ray

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WmLambert
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RickyB, if you think attacking al Qaeda and Iraq are unrelated to the perpetrators of the attack on the Cole, then who did you want Clinton or Bush to retaliate against?

Clinton recognized Article 51 of the United Nations charter prohibits the use of armed force by one state against another, except in self-defense or with the approval of the U.N. Security Council. Retaliation, in other words, is not an acceptable justification for the use of force. Self-defense is allowed under international law, but what constitutes "self-defense" is a matter of debate.

Any military action against bin Laden's suspected hiding places in the mountains of Afghanistan would have been declared a "preemptive" effort to forestall future attacks, not a retaliatory strike, because of that. Even if Clinton had retaliated, he couldn't have admitted it and still claim to respect Article 51. If anyone had mentioned the Cole and getting bin Laden in the same breath, the White House would have denied a connection.

Immediately after the attack on the Cole, Yemen's prime minister said the Cole's bombers appear to have been Arab veterans of the war that drove Soviet forces out of Afghanistan in the 1980s, the same group of Islamic warriors who form the core of bin Laden's terrorist network, known as al Qaeda or "the Base." As of January, the confirmation of who did it was still up in the air. It wasn't until after 9/11 that one of the suspected airline hijackers was traced back to meetings with the suicide bombers who attacked the Cole, and then back to bin Laden. Previous to that, there was insufficient Intelligence (for all the reasons mentioned before) to accuse anyone and make it stick.

This whole canard about Clinton handing over the moral responsibility for Bush to retaliate for the Cole attack is just unfounded. Two years after the attack we were still arguing whether bin Laden was responsible for it. The only immediate response would have been to blow up the obvious supporters who were at the dock and in pleasure boats watching the attack happen and then cheering. Even going after them is arguable.

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Ray Bingham
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We could have blown up Yemen spice traders... [Smile]
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RickyB
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Al Qaeda of course. Iraq no. Not that htey're not a problem, but htey're not THIS problem.
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Tincan Sailor
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Ricky,

I was on the same class of ship as the Cole when she was hit. I looked at the pictures, and saw my own ship. I read the reports, and wondered what I would have been doing. I read the names of the dead, along with their ranks and rates, and knew EXACTLY what they were doing. Most of them were going through the mess line, as I may have been doing. The one officaer who was killed was in the oil lab, monitoring the fuel tank levels. Some of the most junior were watching the scuppers and discharge pipes to ensure no fuel would sully the harbor they were guests in. I had been in the Gulf just six months before, and I could see it all.

I was outraged. And then I waited for my Commander in Chief to do something about it.

He did nothing.

He had four more months to act, regardless of the political fallout, but because he lived and died only by the morality of the latest polls, he did nothing.

Timeliness is an aspect of war that a lot of people, especially those on the left, fail to grasp. Sometimes you don't have time to wait around. Sometimes you need to act immediately. The Cole was such a time.

Richard Clarke claims that Clinton was all in the know about Osama, AQ, and how bad and dangerous they were, and that they were targeting US assets in the Middle East. Even if they couldn't immediately link AQ and the Cole Bombers, it wouldn't have hurt to go kill some AQ folks for good measure anyway. It would have shown resolve, and there was no question in Clinton's mind that they were a threat that needed to be addressed.

INstead he left it for Bush like the coward he was. Had Bush immediately reacted upon inauguration, the left would have excoriated him for an "unprovoked attack". But by then, the initiative had been lost, the trail was cold, and a February attack would have accomplished nothing except show our enemies that we are so slow to react to an overt act of war that we can be attacked at will, fed some locations of former training camps, and then we'd go about our sheepish business.

I'm sorry, but the Cole is Clinton's single worst (in)action, in a long and sorry list. Those 17 shipmates deserved better, as Sen. Bob Kerrey (D) suggested at the time by saying we should attack Saddam in order to honor the dead.

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Kinglink
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I wish we could forget about the USS Cole. I also wish we could forget about the Vietnam war, JFK's affairs, and Jefferson's children with his slaves.

Unfortunately we live in a society where we like to dig into our public figures private lives and as such these mistakes will never be forgotten.

Allow me to point out one thing. Clinton doesn't have too much in the record books. In 50 years there will be a few notes about him, and at that time only a handful of people will remember the USS Cole. In fact most of them will forget about a lot of stuff.

He will then be remembered for his affair, the first and hopefully only president to be impeached. (Don't get hopeful on Bush, that's likely to not happen in his presidency and unlikely after) Won't that be great?

Honestly though not much else was done by him that is note worthy. There's the balanced budget, but that was done by congress. The great economic boom, but that was done by Microsoft (Productivity of the windows 95 and later operating systems really created a lot of it) The dot com rise, the bubble bursting all happened in his administration but with almost no help from him. The economy now started in the late months of 2000. Granted there are faults of Bush but it was started back then.

And of course there's one other little footnote we should mention. I heard a little statistic and this might be off but Clinton was the only democratic president who didn't have a war in office. I'm sure I'm misquoting my teacher at the time (this was early high school so probably somewhere around 7 years ago), I'm pretty sure it's something like of the 20th century. But that might be why he dropped this ball as well as a few of those attacks that seemed a bit weak.

Or maybe it was that there was no Lewinsky hearing milestone the next day so a minor military action wasn't required.

So my suggestion is grab a time machine/rocket ship go 50 years into the future and enjoy your time remembering Clinton as he will be remembered, because we still remember the Iraq Contra scandal, Watergate, and the Bay of Pigs. Why should we forget one of Clinton's mistakes?

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Serotonin'sGone
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quote:
the first and hopefully only president to be impeached
sorry to be a bit pedantic, but andrew johnson was the first president to be impeached (he was the successor to lincoln's throne.)
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John L
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quote:
Had you been his contemporary, chances are you'd hate his guts and call him a girlie boy hippie defeatist.-RickyB
RickyBaby, you only wish! [Wink]
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RickyB
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Tincan Sailor,

You could have been captain of the Lusitania and the Maine - it wouldn't make your argument any less preposterous.

Of Clinton, you say this:
quote:
He had four more months to act, regardless of the political fallout
Of Bush, you say this:

quote:
Had Bush immediately reacted upon inauguration, the left would have excoriated him for an "unprovoked attack".
(emphasis mine)

This doesn't raise any alarms in your brain? If that's the level of your logic, then I ain't sleeping any better at night with you in uniform. Actually, the one who was excoriated once as you describe was Clinton.

By October 2000, he had no reason to care personally what anyone said. He had no stake in the political fallout (or was he looking out for his wife's political future? Yeah, that must be it). If you don't understand why, a month beofre one of the most hotly contested election in US history, with him as a lame duck, it was responsible and considerate to let the incoming administration decide if and how it wanted to respond, because they were the ones who wouldhave to deal with hte ramifications, then you really shouldn't be discussing politics at all.

The trail was cold? gimme a break. Many months afterwards, suspects in the Cole case were still being apprehended. Did someone manage to get the trail in a microwave all of a sudden?

Besides, "cold trail" implies that we had to hit the specific people that did this, and them only, which is silly. Cold trail is a law enforcement term. Who was it that said he didn't want to treat terrorism as a law enforcement problem? I forget...

It also implies that not only did Clinton not retaliate, but he also personally made sure that no intel was gathered for an eventual response. In addition, it suggests that Clinton knew right away exactly whom and where to hit in order to get the very people responsible. Do any of these suggestions make sense to you?

This of course would be slander of the worst kind. In fact, we know that the incoming administration was briefed on the Cole investigation and specifically recommended to act. We also know - from none other than Condi herself - that they CHOSE to do nothing . She didn't say it was because the trail had gone cold, or because there would have been no point in responding "so late" afterwards. They chose not to act because they were tired of swatting flies, remember?

As for your little sermon on timeliness, I find it utterly wrongheaded, at best. Here in Israel, our policy is never to write off a score with the terrorists. The murderers who killed our athletes at Munich '72 were dealt with years, in some cases decades afterwards.

You NEVER, ever say "oh, we didn't get them within 4 months, so we'll let it go". In Israel, it's not unusual to hear on the news that a terrorist who was apprehended or killed today is the guy believed to be responsible for some atrocity that occured a year or more ago. So don't try to say that we had to retaliate rightaway or not at all. It makes you seem really foolish.

You say you're outraged about you dead brothers in arms. Your insistence on placing blame for their unavenged blood only where politically convenient belies your claim to noble anger, as it suggests you care more about poliitcs than about justice for the dead, since you bend over backwards to place all the blame on one side, rather than look at the facts and let the blame fall where it may.

[ April 09, 2004, 11:11 PM: Message edited by: RickyB ]

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Tincan Sailor
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CLinton was a political animal to the very very end. He was on the first day in office, he was on the last days in office (hence the pardon scandles), and he continues to be today. Of course he was looking out for his wife's political future, and I think he laso believed having his VP succeed him would keep his hand in the pot. Not responding to the Cole was criminally wrongheaded. it was an act of war, pure and simple. Had he chose to, he could have used the incident to rally Americans around a real fight against Al Qaeda, and he did not. He once again ignored an overt AQ attack on US soil AND DID NOTHING.

I'm not saying I wanted him to lob some more missiles into tents. You don't win wars that way. I'm saying I wanted him to do what he should have done after Feb 93, what he should have done after June 96, what he should have done after October 98, and what he should have done after the attempted attacks on the Space Needle and on the LA Airport. Attack Al Qaeda where they were based. Attack Afghanistan where they were being housed, fed, and financially supported.

I wanted him to do what Bush did post 9/11, something Bush was planning (on a smaller scale, to be sure) BEFORE the WTC got hit.

Bush was NOT going to do "nothing" about terrorism. Testimony from both Dr. Rice, SECDEF, and even Richard Clarke proove that. But a new administration cannot implement a comprehensive battle plan in the first few days in office! He can carry one out that's in place (a la Truman and Nixon), but he can't create and execute one. He was in the process of creating that battle plan when 9/11 happened, and I'm glad to know that now.

What I'm saying is this: Clinton had the initiative and failed to use it. He had the initiative on several occassions and did nothing. To paraphrase Patton, a good plan executed NOW is far better than a perfect plan executed late. Clinton and his Defense tema didn't understand that, to their shame, and to the deaths of hundreds.

Should Bush have acted sooner? Perhaps. Is Bush doing everything right? No. But the USS Cole incident takes its place high on Clinton's list of inactions that harmed my nation.

THis isn't political expediency. I supported Clinton in 92. He lost my support when he failed to do his job.

You're right, Ricky. You DON'T let terrorists off the hook just because a few months have passed. I totally and 100% agree. Because you believe that, I cannot understand how you can defend Clinton's response to terror attack after terror attack after terror attack with nothing but a few mis-aimed cruise missiles. CLinton let terrorists off the hook for EIGHT YEARS, and would have continued that trend had he been able to achieve a third term.

Your logic eludes me, and I believe partisan politics is the answer. No reasonable person can point the finger at Bush for failing to act decisively before 9/11, without multiplying that blame 8 times at Bill Clinton.

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John L
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quote:
Your logic eludes me, and I believe partisan politics is the answer. No reasonable person can point the finger at Bush for failing to act decisively before 9/11, without multiplying that blame 8 times at Bill Clinton.-t s
TS, you are new here, so allow me to mention that what you fail to comprehend is presence of "parallel universes". You and I, like the majority, live in one, while others inhabit one of several others. Our universe is based upon reason, and their's is upon emotion.

We can see each other, and ever interact somewhat, but that is all. We operate on different rules. So do not dispair, or you will become jaded and bored like me. Next thing you know, you will become sarcastic and abrasive. Just think positive and count your blessings.

Trying to convey your reality is like trying to explain civilization to a New Guinea Head Hunter. All you will get is a "Cargo Cult". [Wink]

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Serotonin'sGone
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john L, please just go away.
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Everard
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I second that motion.

By belittling the people who disagree with you, you accomplish two things.
1) You weaken your own position by showing you have no actual arguments to back up your conclusions
2) You make actual discussion much more difficult to achieve.

By insulting people, or belittling their arguments without refuting them, you make debate possible. This site is supposed to be a place where people can discuss differences of ideas, and learn from those discussions. If you don't want to behave in a manner that will maximize the educational value of this site both to yourself, and to others, then you shouldn't be here.

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RickyB
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I actually agree that Clinton didn't do enough to respond to terrorist attacks. My thread-starting post was specifically about the Cole, where I believe he was justified in leaving it to the next Administration. He should have acted more forcefully in '93 and '96. In '98, the political climate made it impossible for him to get congressional approval for anything more than he did.

All I'm saying is, if you think we sdhould have reacted to the Cole, then Bush is at least as guilty. He flat out CHOSE not to do anything. Not because he was alienated from Congress, not because he was a month away from an election, not nothing. he thought and still thinks he should have done nothing. So either blame both, or blame only Bush, but blaming only Clinton is moronic.

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WmLambert
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RickyB, I think the point was already made that Clinton did have the political ability and moral authority to retaliate at the time. Clarke had been pushing for quite some while for punitive strikes against bin Laden - and the bin Laden connection was no stronger a year after the Cole attack then it was a day after.

Clarke, himself, has claimed he urged attacks against al Qaeda, both before the Cole attack and after. The election was not held until November - and the outcome was not fianlized until still later. The new administration was not sworn in until the next year, and its cabinet was not approved immediately. In another of Bush's gestures of consensus-building, he kept in place many of Clinton's appointees in the Cia and FBI hierarchy. Clarke was kept on, if you remember. The people who were advising Bush were the same ones who were advising Clinton. If they didn't agree with Clarke before the election, why would they change their minds with no new Intelligence coming in afterwards?

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RickyB
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Had the political ability? That point was not made. By October 2000, Clinton couldn't get the time of day from either GOP dominated chamber, especially not the zealous house. If they accused him of wagging the dog in '98, how would they react in the midst of full election fever? In any event, to suggest, as tincan sailor did, that Bush was justified in fearing political backlash, but Clinton wasn't - I have no words for how twisted that is.

Moral authority? I actually think so too. My point is that when Bush was finally sworn in, he CHOSE (maybe if we had 10 foot fonts it help get this crucial point across) not to do anything. Not because it was too late, or some cold trail nonsense, but because he preferred to eschew "swatting flies" (i.e., the tedious business of dealing with threats as they popped up) in favor of some mythical, comprehensive, home run-like strategy of solving the problem once and for all. Was this a mistake? You be the judge. We report, You decide [Big Grin]

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G2
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Since Clinton has been absolved of anything and everything relating to the USS Cole (it occured during his term which can only mean it's Bush's fault, or something), let's get Obama's take and how he's gonna handle it now. During the campaign:

quote:
Senator Obama, June 18, 2008
First, let me say a few words about Guantanamo. By any measure, our system of trying detainees has been an enormous failure. Over the course of nearly seven years, there has not been a single conviction for a terrorist act at Guantanamo. There has been just one conviction for material support for terrorism. Meanwhile, this legal black hole has substantially set back America's ability to lead the world against the threat of terrorism, and undermined our most basic values. Make no mistake: we are less safe because of the way George Bush has handled this.

Oh yeah, not getting convictions for those held in GITMO is bad, bad, bad.

How about the USS Cole specifically? Obama specificlaly weighed in on that and its mastermind, Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, currently in GITMO:

quote:
President Obama, February 6, 2009:
President Obama on Friday assured family members of Americans who were killed in the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole and in the Sept. 11 attacks that the terror suspects will be prosecuted and brought “to a swift and certain justice.”

Oh yeah, gonna be some legal ass whipping there! Barry gonna correct all the wrongs and make them right. Of course, the problem is, Obama lies.

quote:
Obama Administration, August 27, 2010:
The Obama administration has shelved the planned prosecution of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, the alleged coordinator of the Oct. 2000 suicide attack on the USS Cole in Yemen, according to a court filing.

The decision at least temporarily scuttles what was supposed to be the signature trial of a major al-Qaeda figure under a reformed system of military commissions. And it comes practically on the eve of the 10th anniversary of the attack, which killed 17 sailors and wounded dozens when a boat packed with explosives ripped a hole in the side of the warship in the port of Aden.

In a filing this week in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, the Justice Department said that "no charges are either pending or contemplated with respect to al-Nashiri in the near future."

Pretty damn cold to lie like that to the families of the sailors that were killed. Obama has undermined our most basic values. Make no mistake: we are less safe because of the way Barack Obama has handled this - Barry's own words.

Hope and ... bull****.

[ August 27, 2010, 06:14 PM: Message edited by: G2 ]

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Edit: Never mind.

[ August 29, 2010, 06:42 PM: Message edited by: 0Megabyte ]

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