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Words Are Cheap, Actions Matter

While President Obama’s national security speech yesterday was full of positive rhetorical flourishes, it remains one of the strangest presidential speeches I have ever listened to. For large sections it seemed as if the speech was delivered by a critic of the Obama administration instead of by the individual responsible for its policy decisions himself.

His words so often contradicted his actions it’s amazing he could deliver the speech without a hint of irony.

On freedom of the press Obama said,

Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs.  Our focus must be on those who break the law.  And that’s why I’ve called on Congress to pass a media shield law to guard against government overreach.  And I’ve raised these issues with the Attorney General, who shares my concerns. So he has agreed to review existing Department of Justice guidelines governing investigations that involve reporters, and he’ll convene a group of media organizations to hear their concerns as part of that review.  And I’ve directed the Attorney General to report back to me by July 12th.

Yet it was Obama’s own AG who signed off on the search warrant that labeled Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator.” This means the person Obama tasked with reviewing the possible unacceptable actions by Eric Holder is Eric Holder. It was also Obama who helped kill the media shield law back in 2009 when Democrats theoretically had the votes to pass it.

On Guantanamo Bay Obama said,

As President, I have tried to close GTMO.  I transferred 67 detainees to other countries before Congress imposed restrictions to effectively prevent us from either transferring detainees to other countries or imprisoning them here in the United States. […]

I have asked the Department of Defense to designate a site in the United States where we can hold military commissions.  I’m appointing a new senior envoy at the State Department and Defense Department whose sole responsibility will be to achieve the transfer of detainees to third countries.

I am lifting the moratorium on detainee transfers to Yemen so we can review them on a case-by-case basis.

Obama claims he tried to close GTMO but he eliminate the special envoy for closing GTMO and effectively stopped talking about the issue in any public addresses – until the hunger strike. Remarkably, Obama tries to blame Congress for preventing the transfer of detainees to other countries, yet just minutes later in the same speech he admits it was his administration that put the moratorium on transfers to Yemen. Roughly, a third of of the prisoners held are from Yemen.

I believed Obama back in 2008 when he made these promise the first time, but I stopped believing him because of his actions.

Obama has gone out of his way to prove that words are cheap, actions are what matters. You should never be trusted when making the same promise again after breaking it once. Obama needs to actually deliver or stop talking.

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Jon Walker

Jon Walker

Jonathan Walker grew up in New Jersey. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 2006. He is an expert on politics, health care and drug policy. He is also the author of After Legalization and Cobalt Slave, and a Futurist writer at