Candidate Obama in 2007: Americans ‘Have a Right to Know’ Before Government Takes Military Action
President Barack Obama, as a presidential candidate in 2007, said the American people have a right to know about and participate in the debate over U.S. foreign policy decisions and whether the nation uses military force. His comments were captured on videotape.
“But the fact of the matter is that when we don’t talk to the American people – we’re debating the most important foreign policy issues that we face, and the American people have a right to know,” Obama said at the AFL-CIO debate on Aug. 7, 2007.
“It is not just Washington insiders that are part of the debate that has to take place with respect to how we’re going to shift our foreign policy,” he said.
Obama’s comments came at the end of a discussion between himself, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) over whether it was proper to announce, as Obama had done, that he would launch military strikes into Pakistan if Osama bin Laden was found there.
Dodd and Clinton both criticized Obama for saying he would launch the military strikes if the Pakistani government was unable or unwilling to kill or capture bin Laden, saying that openly discussing such military options was unwise.
“I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime,” Clinton said, arguing that openly advocating military strikes might harm the fragile regime of pro-U.S. Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf.