Priorities against terrorists wrong

France’s reaction to terrorist attacks that killed 129 people in Paris was an air strike against Islamic State positions in Raqqa, Syria.

America’s response was to release five terrorists from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba.

Of course, leaders of both nations, along with many others, condemned the Paris massacre. But the French reacted swiftly and decisively.

Here in the United States it was business – or, rather, politics – as usual.

Islamic terrorists, whether they are affiliated with the IS, al-Qaida or some other murderous group, are convinced Western nations are soft – incapable of stopping the drive toward a worldwide caliphate. In that context, it is difficult to imagine what President Barack Obama could have done to provide a bigger boost to terrorist morale.

Obama and conservatives in Congress have been battling for years over what to do with terrorists at Guantanamo Bay. Closing the center and freeing its inmates was one of Obama’s campaign promises in 2008. Despite repeated indications a strong majority of lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican, oppose that, Obama has plowed ahead.

Sometimes it appears the president is at least as focused on closing “Gitmo” as on destroying Islamic terrorist groups.

Just a few days ago, another vote in Congress went against the White House. Reaction there was to assure reporters that the detention center will be closed anyway. Prisoners will be relocated, even if that means sending many of them to an incarceration facility in the United States.

But that was not what happened a few days ago. Five men held at Guantanamo Bay for more than 13 years were sent to the United Arab Emirates. They arrived there Saturday, while there still was blood on the floor of a Paris concert hall.

On Friday night, Obama should have been ordering a military strike on the Islamic State group. Instead, he either gave the go-ahead to release the five terrorists from U.S. custody or did not pause to think what message doing so would convey to both our enemies and our allies.

Politics as usual leaves Americans dangerously vulnerable to Islamic terrorism. Our president does not seem to understand that.

One of the five men sent to the UAE may have been a bodyguard to Osama bin Laden. All five were described as “low-level” fighters in terrorist groups.

No doubt those who carried out the Paris attacks were viewed as low-level fighters, too – until they began executing innocent people.


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