In his last days in office, President Obama decided to do whatever necessary to accomplish some of his goals, regardless of Congressional or Constitutional limits or the dictates of common sense — and regardless of the financial cost to the taxpayer.
1) Guantanamo Bay
The President had pledged from the beginning of his Administration to close the base by moving the prisoners to prisons located inside our nation’s boundaries, but the Congress, through bi-partisan votes, would never allow him to do it. So, he responded throughout his eight years in office by releasing as many prisoners as he could find countries willing to take them. The fact that most would end up back on the battlefield fighting us did not seem to bother him.
On January 5, he sent four prisoners from Yemen to Saudi Arabia for participation in a “rehabilitation program.” On January 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration, Obama petitioned the Congress one last time to close the facility. He argued that “Guantanamo is contrary to our values and undermines our standing in the world…” (It undermines our values to punish terrorists?)
During his tenure in office, Obama released 201 detainees. There were 242 when he took office. A total of 41 were left when Trump took control. Why the obsession with turning loose ruthless terrorists?
In like manner, President Obama seemed obsessed with emptying our federal prisons of drug dealers. Believing their sentences were “too harsh,” during his last days in office, the president granted 1,176 commutations (sentence reductions) and 148 pardons (full forgiveness of the crime and restoration of civil rights). He, in fact, set a record on his last day in office by granting 330 commutations in one day’s time.
Obama issued 1,715 commutations during his eight years, more than the past 13 presidents combined, and 504 of these were life sentences! In short, he tossed out the window thousands of sentences that had been carefully determined by judges and juries. What arrogance!
The worst of his last minute commutations resulted in the release of Bradley Manning, better known as Chelsea Manning — a transgender man. (I refuse to call transgenders by their assumed names.) This man was an intelligence officer in the United States Army who released 700,000 documents, videos, diplomatic cables and battlefield accounts to WikiLeaks. The bottom line is that he was a traitor who should have been shot. Instead, he was given 35 years in prison. President Obama released him after serving only seven years — again, making a mockery of our judicial system.
3) The Palestinians
On the last morning of his presidency, Obama released $221 million in funding to the Palestinian Authority — money that had been held up by Congress because of evidence that such funds are used for terrorist attacks against Israel. Fortunately, the Trump Administration was able to move quickly to freeze the funds before they could be transferred.
Three days before the end of his term, Obama decided to send $500 million to a UN agency called The Green Climate Fund. He had previously pledged $3 billion and had already given $500 million, but he decided to squeeze in another half a billion before he left office.
The State Department used funds designated for programs meant to fight infectious diseases, like the Zika virus. Climate change is another of Obama’s pet obsessions, so in a last gasp effort, he decided to throw half a billion dollars of your money and mine at what has to be one of the phoniest issues of modern times.
5) The United Nations
President Obama also unleashed a money shower on the United Nations during 2016. The UN has two budgets — its regular one and its peace-keeping budget. The regular budget for 2016 was $2.7 billion. We were required to pay 22 percent of that, totaling $594 million. The peace-keeping budget for 2016 was $8.3 billion. We were assessed 28 percent of that, or $2.3 billion. So, our total requirement for 2016 was about $2.9 billion.
On February 3 the State Department announced that Obama gave the United Nations a total of $9.2 billion during 2016, or $6.3 billion more than we were assessed, and many experts are saying it was more than that because the State Department’s figures did not include all the donations the President made to special UN funds like The Green Climate Fund.
All this money given to an organization that spends most of its time denouncing the United States and Israel? And an organization that is known for its inept bureaucracy and reckless spending?
Incidentally, the United Nations has 193 members. The US is assessed 22 percent of the budget. Japan is second with 9.6 percent, followed by China (7.9%), Germany (6.3%), France (4.8%) and the United Kingdom (4.4%). Brazil is 6th at 3.8%, and Russia comes in at only 3.0%. Doesn’t it appear that there is something screwy about these percentages? When is someone going to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!”?
In the second and last segment in this series on President Obama’s last acts in office, we’ll look at his shameful behavior towards Israel.