The campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain are engaging in an angry exchange today over Obama’s remarks to Jake Tapper yesterday in which he talked about the role of law enforcement in combating terrorism.
In the interview, Obama said, "[I]t is my firm belief that we can track terrorists, we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution. And there has been no evidence on their part that we can’t.
"And, you know, let’s take the example of Guantanamo. What we know is that, in previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated."
The McCain campaign responded with a call in which McCain’s senior foreign policy adviser Randy Schuenemann said, "Once again we have seen that Senator Obama is a perfect manifestation of a September 10th mindset. He brings the attitude, the failures of judgment, the weakness and the misunderstanding of the nature of our adversaries, and the dangers posed by them to a series of policy positions."
He added, "I have no doubt that we will hear in the course of the day that the Obama campaign will say we’re practicing the, quote, politics of fear, and the reality is what Senator Obama’s statement reflects last night is that he’s advocating a policy of delusion that ignores what happened in the failed approach of the 1990’s which allowed al Qaeda to thrive and prosper unmolested and that policy clearly made America less safe and more vulnerable."
Which led to the just-concluded Obama call with John Kerry and Richard Clarke, in which they accused the McCain campaign of perpetrating the politics of fear and mischaracterizing Obama’s terrorism policy. When asked by a reporter about the McCain campaign’s assertion that Obama would want to give Osama Bin Laden habeas corpus rights, Kerry answered angrily.
"The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that they have those rights — this is not Barack Obama, this is the Supreme Court of the United States. If John McCain were president he’d have to give them those rights. This is a phony argument. And it is typical of what the Republican playbook is, which is, say anything, no matter what the other side has said, just say it, people may believe it, unless you folks write the truth and write it boldly and clearly. The truth is that this is exactly what they tried to say back in 2004 and the record absolutely contradicts it."
Clarke argued that Obama had a comprehensive approach to combating terrorism and said he was "disgusted" by the McCain efforts to mischaracterize Obama’s position.
"What I see his surrogates saying and occasionally the Senator himself, is as Senator Kerry said, straight out of a Republican playbook which has been used in every federal election since 2002, which is to use this sort of big lie technique."