There Once was an Executive Administration that Did Whatever They Wanted

Prisoner Swap

Clay Olsen | June 4, 2014

Five terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay were released last week in exchange for an army man that had been held for five years by the Taliban. The five terrorists that are now freely roaming the earth were high-level Taliban operatives that have committed their lives to jihad (if you are not a Muslim, you deserve death). The American that was rescued was a deserter. He left his unit. Six honorable and courageous members of our armed forces died trying to find him and bring him out of captivity. Negotiations were made with terrorists, and perhaps terrorists will now assume that we will continue to negotiate with them.

Every time I read about events like the prisoner exchange that occurred last week, I cannot help but recall the Schoolhouse Rock video that I saw in elementary school that explained how the three branches of government work. Then I think of the philosophy behind this structure. Why did the Framers establish it? Well, because an increase in power and/or a decrease in accountability leads to corruption. Mankind is imperfect, and those with authority must be overseen by others. Left unchecked, one branch of government might simply do as they see fit without considering the consequences.

That is what I see in this “scandal”: a branch of government who has already reached the border of its power and has stuck its toe across it to test the waters; then they have moved their entire foot across, then their body and are prepared to dive in. Putting aside the details of the swap, look at the big picture. The President authorized an exchange with the Taliban, a terrorist group that seeks to take as many innocent lives as possible in the name of their god (jihad). Prisoner exchanges require the Executive Branch to inform Congress 30 days before the swap. This is law, not a suggestion; and yet, the law is blatantly broken without repercussions. When you don’t discipline a child, that child gets the idea that he can do whatever he wants. That is a huge problem considering the scale that this clever metaphor correlates to.

After Congress and the world finds out about this exchange, we find ourselves in a (unfortunately) familiar situation. A huge story, which very few people knew about while it was happening, with many questions left unanswered by those on the outside. I turn on the news today (several days after the swap occurred) and a news commentator says that there are so many questions that need to be answered, “but let’s not jump to conclusions until we have everything figured out.” I have a feeling that this commentator might be saying this tomorrow and the next day and next week and next month and on and on and on until the story dies out. That in fact seems to be the strategy of this administration: do as they wish and if something negative leaks out, cold shoulder the questions until they stop.

History would prove this to be true. Over a year and a half after four Americans died in Bhengazi, a Congressional committee is still fighting to simply find answers to legitimate questions. Last summer, it is uncovered that the IRS was targeting and harassing groups because of the ideas and beliefs that these groups held. What happens? No news coverage, no firings, we only get to see the use of the Fifth Amendment. Instead the head of the IRS at the time is asked to lead the implementation of Obamacare and is personally thanked by the President at a presidential dinner. Scandal after scandal are starved of all information and accountability and is then swept under the rug, and there is little doubt that this prisoner exchange story is next.

If Not Us, Then Who?

By Danny Zeng

Today is the last presidential debate between the two candidates in this heated election season. The subject will be over foreign policy, an area that most Americans, I would say myself included, are not educated enough to to know fully what is going on. But I believe common sense suffices to have a broad position on foreign policy. After all, simplifying complex issues using principles as guidance is the closest approximation to good decision making. If we all exercise a certain level of common sense, then we all be better off.

A brief review of the last four years signal that we have not lived a quiet four years: Gaddafi is dead; Mubarak is done; Bin Laden has been decimated; Arab Spring fanned across Middle East and Norther Africa, providing hope for millions living under totalitarian regimes; even places like Russia and China, pockets of democratic idealism sprung up and challenged the status quo. This administration has achieved some deserved victories, but it has failed in larger part to lead the free world without a coherent vision; indeed, challenges remain and the world searches for the proactive leadership in us.

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