After Obama signed the bill, senior officials were quick to tell ABC News, "The president strongly believes that to detain American citizens in military custody infinitely without trial, would be a break with our traditions and values as a nation, and wants to make sure that any type of authorization coming from congress, complies with our Constitution, our rules of war and any applicable laws."
Another example is the Obama administration's drone program, over which the president has asserted a prominent role in managing individual strikes. Drones have become a valuable tool of U.S. counterterrorism policy and have significantly destroyed al Qaeda's senior leadership. Yet, drone strikes have generated enormous turmoil in the regions in which they are launched and have undoubtedly killed an untold number of innocent civilians.
Both adverse consequences have the potential to expand the anti-American sentiment from which terrorism breeds. The gravity of that problem becomes easier to comprehend when one considers that some groups of people that Washington targets for death only bear characteristics associated with terrorism—their identities may not be known. Perhaps unwittingly, CIA deputy director Steve Kappes captured this problem best: "Mr. President, we can see that there are a lot of military-age males down there, men associated with terrorist activity, but we don't always know who they are."
On the one hand, Obama openly rejected Bush's "with us or against us" approach to foreign affairs. On the other hand, Obama's sophisticated demeanor opened him to criticism, with hawks condemning him as too weak and easily manipulated by America's enemies. Sadly, in the process, Obama's counterterrorism policies like indefinite detention and targeted strikes have become not only entrenched, but largely ignored.