Obama vowed to break from Bush's national security policies. How's he doing?

ByOlivier Knox
May 10, 2012, 6:27 PM

— -- President Barack Obama came to office vowing a clean break from George W. Bush's national security policies: He would end the war in Iraq, order a halt to harsh interrogation practices that met international definitions of torture and close Guantanamo Bay.

Three and a half years later, how's he doing? The independent investigative journalistic outfit Pro Publica has a handy interactive chart to let you know. "Interact with the whole thing," as no one says.

Now running for reelection, Obama has been highlighting the troop withdrawal from Iraq and the planned draw-down from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 (though he and Afghan President Hamid Karzai just signed an agreement that could have American soldiers stay in that war-torn country until 2024).

"For the first time in nine years, there are no Americans fighting in Iraq," Obama told cheering supporters in Richmond, Virginia, on May 5. "Osama bin Laden is no longer a threat to this country. Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat. And by 2014, the war in Afghanistan will be over."

But Guantanamo Bay is still open. And after insisting that America's civilian courts could handle trials of major accused terrorists, the administration has put alleged 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed on trial — before a military commission at Gitmo.

The timeline format is necessarily a bit spare. On Guantanamo Bay, for example, it notes Obama's January 21, 2009 order to close the facility, followed by his March 7, 2011 order giving the green-light to holding prisoners there indefinitely. In between, however, were years of bitter political fights with Republicans fiercely opposed to shutting Guantanamo Bay. And it was a Democrat, House Appropriations Chairman Dave Obey, who in May 2009 stripped out the money Obama requested to close the prison from an appropriations bill — the first and perhaps most crippling blow to the president's stated goal because it came from an ally.

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