It is difficult to interpret President Barack Obama’s speech Thursday on U.S. terror policy as anything more than an attempt to distract from the damaging recent revelations about the Benghazi terror attacks.
The president is attempting to re-connect to his left-wing base by renewing an old, broken and controversial promise to close the terror detention center at Guantánamo Bay, and by updating U.S. policy on drone attacks. Already, in his second term, he has renewed efforts to try terror detainees in civilian, not military, courts.
Yet the most pressing question about the Obama administration’s policy on terror is why the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton failed to protect the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and why requests for help were twice denied while the consulate was under attack. In addition, journalists have finally begun to ask the key questions–namely, where President Obama was on the night of the attacks, and what he did about them.
These questions are profoundly uncomfortable for the White House, as are questions about how the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security failed to stop the Boston Marathon bombers before they struck.
In addition, the Obama administration is facing unusually vigorous criticism from the mainstream media over its subpoenas of telephone records from the Associated Press and its surveillance of Fox News reporter James Rosen–both ostensibly done for reasons of national security, both widely viewed as an abuse of power.
By reminding the public that he is Commander-in-Chief, and stirring old controversies in which he once held the moral high ground in the media, the president is attempting to win back control over the news cycle.