BUENOS AIRES (UPI) — U.S. President Barack Obama sharply criticized the Republicans running to succeed him Wednesday, saying their proposals in the wake of the terrorist bombings in Brussels are “wrong and un-American.”
Obama took specific aim at Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who called for police in American cities to “secure” Muslim neighborhoods by placing mosques and other community groups under surveillance.
Obama chastised Cruz for seeking to implement the kind of state-sponsored spying Cruz’s family fled in Cuba.
“As far as the notion of having surveillance of neighborhoods where Muslims are present, I just left a country that engages in that kind of neighborhood surveillance, which, by the way, the father of Sen. Cruz escaped for America, the land of the free,” Obama said. “The notion that we would start down that slippery slope makes absolutely no sense. It’s contrary to who we are, and it’s not going to help us defeat [the Islamic State].”
The president was also left to play some defense after Republicans assailed him for attending a baseball game where he was seen doing “the wave” with Cuban President Raul Castro in the hours after the Brussels attack, which killed at least 30 people and injured hundreds more.
Obama defended his decision to attend the game, saying he did not want the terrorists to have the power to alter his schedule or set the example that Americans should allow terrorist threats to alter their daily lives.
Obama was similarly criticized for leaving the country to go to Asia on a planned diplomatic trip the day after a Paris terrorist attack happened.
As for the presidential candidates, Democrats and Republicans alike outlined further steps they would take in the battle against the Islamic State, which claimed responsibility for the Brussels attacks. The Democrats, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, essentially argued for more of the same on national security policy.
Cruz and Republican front-runner Donald Trump each outlined far more drastic steps to combat Islamic terrorism.
Trump flatly called for the torture of suspects in custody and said if the Paris bombing suspect who was apprehended three days before the Brussels attack had been tortured, it may have given authorities the information necessary to halt the bombings at a train station and the Brussels airport.
Cruz reiterated his call to restart and intensify home-state surveillance of Muslim-Americans, referencing a since-shuttered program put in place in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks by the New York Police Department to infiltrate mosques and spy on Muslims living in New York City.
NYPD Police Commissioner William Bratton panned the program — and Cruz for supporting it — saying it did not yield any leads that assisted in terrorism-related investigations and only served to further alienate the city’s Muslim community when it became public.
Copyright 2015 United Press International, Inc. (UPI). Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI’s prior written consent.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.