Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion out­lines pol­icy for use of mil­i­tary force.

Schiff: Should be seen as bench­mark

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVE BOYER

Mind­ful of Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s vow to get tougher on ter­ror­ists, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion re­leased a rule book Mon­day spelling out its own poli­cies for the use of mil­i­tary force.

The 61-page doc­u­ment from the White House sets forth the de­part­ing ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ex­ec­u­tive or­ders, le­gal opin­ions, rules for drone at­tacks and its pol­icy for ter­ror­ist de­ten­tion, out­lin­ing the laws sup­port­ing those poli­cies.

In an in­tro­duc­tion, Pres­i­dent Obama wrote that the rules are im­por­tant for re­duc­ing “the risk of an ill-con­sid­ered de­ci­sion.” He also ad­vises that trans­parency is cru­cial “so that an in­formed pub­lic can scru­ti­nize our ac­tions and hold us to ac­count.”

The pub­li­ca­tion of the re­port and a pres­i­den­tial mem­o­ran­dum on the sub­jects come a day be­fore Mr. Obama is sched­uled to speak to U.S. spe­cial forces and other troops at MacDill Air Force Base in Florida about the suc­cess of his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s coun­tert­er­ror­ism strat­egy.

Mr. Trump has said he would be will­ing to rein­tro­duce tor­ture in the fight against ter­ror­ism, although De­fense Sec­re­tary nom­i­nee Gen. James N. Mat­tis has ad­vised the pres­i­dent-elect not to pur­sue that course.

The re­port also cov­ers the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s le­gal jus­ti­fi­ca­tions for try­ing to close the Guan­tanamo Bay de­ten­tion cen­ter in Cuba. Mr. Trump has said he would keep it open and send more ter­ror-re­lated de­tainees there.

Rep. Adam B. Schiff, Cal­i­for­nia Demo­crat and rank­ing mem­ber of the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, said the pol­icy hand­book should put the new Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion on no­tice about how to con­duct the war on ter­ror.

“It may be tempt­ing to look at this re­port sim­ply as a chron­i­cle of a soonto-be for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tion; in­stead it should be seen as a bench­mark from which to eval­u­ate the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s com­mit­ment to trans­parency and the rule of law,” Mr. Schiff said. “Given the pro­found un­cer­tainty over the Pres­i­dent-elect’s views on our for­eign pol­icy chal­lenges and the in­tro­duc­tion of force, and his ex­pressed will­ing­ness to rein­tro­duce tor­ture, this doc­u­ment sets a cru­cial and prin­ci­pled ex­am­ple re­gard­ing the proper uses of force.”

House Demo­cratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer, Mary­land Demo­crat, said the re­port is im­por­tant be­cause “the peo­ple of this coun­try de­serve to know with cer­tainty that their gov­ern­ment is fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional law and Amer­i­can law when it comes to de­ci­sions to use force and en­gage U.S. troops in com­bat.”

He praised Mr. Obama for writ­ing “in one doc­u­ment a last­ing legacy of his com­mit­ment to en­sur­ing that those who serve us in na­tional se­cu­rity faith­fully ad­here to the val­ues and prin­ci­ples for which many of our young men and women in uni­form gave their lives through­out our his­tory.”

White House Deputy Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Ben Rhodes said the speech in Florida has been in the plan­ning stages since Septem­ber, long be­fore Mr. Trump was elected. He said Mr. Obama will fo­cus his speech on “the foun­da­tion that we want to hand off to the next ad­min­is­tra­tion” based on his ex­pe­ri­ences across eight years of coun­tert­er­ror­ism ef­forts.

“We’ve long planned for him to give a speech to wrap up his na­tional se­cu­rity record,” Mr. Rhodes said, adding that Mr. Obama will ad­dress “how he be­lieves the na­tion can pur­sue a suc­cess­ful and sus­tain­able coun­tert­er­ror­ism pol­icy.”

“He’ll be re­it­er­at­ing that our great­est strength in coun­tert­er­ror­ism is who we are as a coun­try,” he said. “The pres­i­dent be­lieves that trans­parency is es­sen­tial in or­der for there to be ac­count­abil­ity.”

Mr. Rhodes said the re­lease of the pol­icy frame­work on coun­tert­er­ror­ism “is an­other step to­ward nor­mal­iz­ing pol­icy.”

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Pres­i­dent Obama, on the eve of leav­ing of­fice, re­leased a man­i­festo on his mil­i­tary poli­cies to claim that they have fol­lowed the law and kept Amer­ica safe.

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