Saturday, May 23, 2009

The president DOES NOT take an oath to "protect the country"

Yet another "public intellectual" is allowed to get away with mischaracterizing the responsibilities of the President of the United States.

In this case, it is the Brookings Institution's Benjamin Wittes in the New York Times discussing President Obama's disturbing proposal to create a legal limbo of "preventive detention" for terrorism suspects. Mr. Wittes seems to think that when Barack Obama was inaugurated, he took an oath to protect the country.

Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said Mr. Obama’s proposal was contrary to the path his administration apparently hoped to take when he took office. But that was before he and his advisers had access to detailed information on the detainees, said Mr. Wittes, who in a book last year argued for an indefinite detention system.

This is the guy who has sworn an oath to protect the country,” he said, “and if you look at the question of how many people can you try and how many people are you terrified to release, you have to have some kind of detention authority.”
Barack Obama did not swear an oath to "protect the country." He swore an oath to protect the principles upon which the country was founded and the document in which those principles are enshrined.
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
Considering that Wittes' assertion is central to the discussion of whether it is appropriate to dismantle our constitutional legal framework in the name of safety and security, one might expect the New York Times to provide a clarification. One might even expect the paper to engage Mr. Wittes in a discussion about the distinction between "protecting the country" and protecting the constitution. But the NYT does neither. It simply lets the false assertion stand as a statement of fact.

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