January 10, 2011
Executive Order 0?By Robert Morrison
The January 22, 2009 signing ceremony was...well, ceremonial. The newly installed president of the United States sat at his desk in the Oval Office. He was flanked by the wise and grave counselors who had enthusiastically supported his historic election.
He took the pen in left hand and signed with a flourish the first executive order of the New Era. The U.S. prison facility at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba would be closed not less than one year from the date of his signature. The clock began ticking toward January 22, 2010.
We are fast approaching the first anniversary of the deadline imposed most imposingly by President Obama. It will be the second anniversary of his most portentous executive order signing ceremony.
Guantánamo is still open. One of the last things done by the absconding 111th Congress was to deny Mr. Obama any funds for the transfer of prisoners from Guantánamo Bay.
This makes it practically impossible for the president to move those worst of the worst terrorists anywhere else. None of the officers and enlisted men who serve there can lawfully participate in these prisoners' transfer.
The commander-in-chief cannot command his subordinates to do anything with those enemy combatants. Happily, no more of them will be released to Yemen, where we find they are soon "rehabilitated" to rejoin their al-Qaeda networks.
Let's not minimize the magnitude of this repudiation of a president. That 111th Congress was not some group of Tea Party-endorsed, Don't Tread on Me citizen legislators. It was an overwhelmingly Democratic and liberal congress.
For that Congress to reject so emphatically their own president's first major initiative is hugely significant. Nothing done to him by his avowed opponents comes close to the rejection administered to him by his friends. You might even say they refudiated him.
It is difficult to find even the number of the executive order that President Obama signed. There are numerous references to the executive order online, but the number normally assigned to these instruments is elusive.
I propose we assign this executive order the number 0. That stands for zero, null, as in having no effect. This number is not given in contempt. Far from it. It is from the deepest concern for our country and its future that we have to apply the zero to this executive order.
The president of the United States is the servant of all the people, not just the majority that elects him. We all have a stake in his success. But this president seems heedless of practical realities.
At the time of the signing of Executive Order 0, Congressman Pete Hoekstra (R-MI) wisely cautioned that hope was getting ahead of reality. His good counsel was swept aside.
We should have known that this whole exercise would come to naught. Toby Harnden, the U.S. correspondent of London's Daily Telegraph, noted some of the blather that accompanied the historic signing on January 22, 2009.
Focus on that word gulag. For an American major general to refer to one of our military prisons as a gulag is outrageous. It shows he knows nothing about the Soviet gulag, where no fewer than three million human beings met their deaths. When he says something so untruthful, so wildly exaggerated, so disloyal to the brave men and women who serve their country at Gitmo, we can safely dismiss anything else he has to say.
Compare Obama's theatrics with Reagan's. Reagan was a new president then, too.
Reagan warned the striking air traffic controllers that their strike was illegal and if they did not return to work, they would be fired. They blew him off. And he fired them. The world took note. In the bowels of the Kremlin, the KGB informed their rulers: with Reagan, words were deeds.
With Obama, words are words. The world takes note. And the world has become a more dangerous place because Obama's words are zeroes.