As is typical, Jon Stewart conducted a more substantive interview with Obama last night than most “real” journalists (though between the women service members the USO seated in the front rows and Stewart’s admission that he gets fundraising emails from Obama, it was definitely a friendly interview). One huge item was missed by both Stewart and Obama: climate change and energy (Obama even brought up housing, dodging a HAMP question and blaming Congress for blocking refinancing for underwater homeowners).
But Stewart was one of the first people to ask Obama about his undelivered promises on Gitmo and fixing FISA. Josh Gerstein debunked some of Obama’s excuses on that front (and always, every time Obama claims he wants to close Gitmo, he should be asked why he has adopted worse policies at Bagram).
There’s just one detail Gerstein missed, which also deserves mockery.
Obama said this:
One thing that I’ve been absolutely clear about is America’s security comes first and the American people need to know how I make decisions when it comes to war, peace, national security, and protecting Americans. And they will continue to get that over the next four years of my Presidency.
Obama’s Administration executed an American citizen with no due process. And yet it refuses to release its legal justification for doing so (to say nothing of the explanation behind Samir Khan and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s death). Now, in the NDAA suit, the government refuses to explain who else might be targeted as a terrorist.
If Obama intends to keep Americans informed about how he makes decisions on war and peace, at the very least he needs to tell them when he can kill or indefinitely detain American citizens.
But I have no optimism that he will get any more transparent about those issues in a second term.