Wednesday, February 3, 2010

McConnell's Heritage Speech

Here's Politico's coverage of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's speech, criticizing the Obama administration for going soft on terrorism:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday accused the White House of being more concerned about a messaging strategy than prosecuting a war against terrorism.

In a blistering speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation, the Kentucky Republican issued his toughest criticism yet of Obama's efforts to handle terrorists, saying the president has a "blind spot" when it comes to fighting terrorism, citing the administration's handling of the accused Christmas Day bombing.

"Again and again, the adminstration's approach has been to announce a new policy or to change an existing one based not on a careful study of the facts, but as a way of conspicuously distancing itself from the policies of the past - even ones that worked," McConnell said. "It short, it has too often put symbolism over security."

McConnell's speech is the latest indication that the politics of national security could play a dominant role in this year's elections, coming a day after Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused the GOP of putting politics before national security by blocking key Obama nominees.

Following his Heritage speech, McConnell signaled that the issue of prosecuting terrorists in military commissions rather than U.S. criminal courts sells well all around the country, as it did in Scott Brown's election to Ted Kennedy's old Senate seat.

"If this approach of puting these people in U.S. courts doesn't sell in Massachussets, I don't know where it sells," he told a questioner.

He added: "You can camapign on these issues anywhere in America."

In his speech to about 100 attendees, McConnell accused the administration of handling terrorism as a "narrow law enforcement" matter, and suggested that Attorney General Eric Holder was ducking GOP questions about the attempted bombing attempt.

"He can't keep dodging this forever."

McConnell said the adminstration was more concerned about getting the alleged bomber - Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab - an attorney rather than critical intelligence from him. And he lambasted the administration for seeking to try accused terrorists in U.S. criminal court rather than at Guantanamo Bay, promising to do "everything we can to deny them the funds they'll need" if they avoid his suggested route.

And he said that the administration belatedly decided against moving detainees to move detainees out of Guantanamo to Yemen.

McConnell dismissed news reports that the aleged bomber was cooperating with law enforcement, criticizing the anonymous sources who leaked the information to the media. McConell said the sources leaked information "aimed at rehabilitating and justifying the administration's mishandling of the Nigerian bomber."

No comments: