Boehner Questions Obama’s Strategy to Combat Terrorism

Posted August 31, 2010 at 1:04pm

House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Tuesday blasted the Obama administration’s handling of national security and accused it of repeatedly putting campaign promises before the safety of the country.

Boehner’s speech this afternoon at the American Legion National Convention in Milwaukee, Wis., came just hours before Obama is set to deliver a prime-time address from the Oval Office to formally announce the end of combat operations in Iraq.

“Over the course of the last 20 months, it is clear our country’s overarching detention policy has been lost,” Boehner said. “We do not know the parameters for when, how, and under what circumstances we will capture, solicit information from, and detain illegal enemy combatants.”

Republicans have repeatedly criticized Obama for his handling of national security matters, including his call to close the Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, detention facility and the administration’s decision to read Miranda rights to Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who attempted to bomb an airplane on Christmas Day.

“We are a nation at war,” Boehner said. “A patchwork of political promises does not represent a coherent strategy to confront and defeat the terrorist threat.”

Boehner used his speech to charge the administration with using campaign promises as a way to measure success in Iraq and Afghanistan, rather than making judgments based on conditions on the ground.

“Using campaign promises as a yardstick to measure success in Iraq and Afghanistan runs the risk of triggering artificial victory laps and premature withdrawal dates unconnected to conditions on the ground,” Boehner said. “After years of hard fighting — which has come at a high price — we cannot afford to underestimate the impact our domestic debates and political hedging have on decisions made by friend and foe alike.”

Boehner also questioned the administration’s relationship with Israel, warning against “naively” assuming “a nuclear-armed Iran would be containable.”

“Where I come from, you stick by your friends, you stick by people who share your values,” he said. “You do not send a message of strength to your enemies by shunning your friends and allies.”

Boehner’s speech in Wisconsin was the second in two weeks in which the would-be Speaker assailed the administration’s policies. Last week, Boehner took aim at the White House’s handling of the economy and demanded Obama ask Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and economic adviser Larry Summers to resign.