Those who want former President George W. Bush imprisoned, drawn and quartered or just gutted on national TV have expressed outrage at President Barack Obama’s reluctance to unleash the hounds on his predecessor.
They can’t understand why Obama won’t join them in prosecuting members of the Bush administration for condoning torture or other abuses of human rights in the so-called “war on terror.”
Don’t look now but the candidate of change may have turned into the President of more of the same. Reports the New York Times:
“In little-noticed confirmation testimony recently, Obama nominees endorsed continuing the C.I.A.’s program of transferring prisoners to other countries without legal rights, and indefinitely detaining terrorism suspects without trials even if they were arrested far from a war zone.”
The administration has also embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine. It has also left the door open to resuming military commission trials.
And earlier this month, after a British court cited pressure by the United States in declining to release information about the alleged torture of a detainee in American custody, the Obama administration issued a statement thanking the British government “for its continued commitment to protect sensitive national security information.”
These and other signs suggest that the administration’s changes may turn out to be less sweeping than many had hoped or feared prompting growing worry among civil liberties groups and a sense of vindication among supporters of Bush-era policies.
At this point, the Obama Greek Chorus usually rises up in righteous indignation with the usual mantra that “hey, give the guy a break. He’s only been in office a few weeks.”
Maybe so, but in those few weeks Obama has reneged on his promise to keep lobbyists out of his administration, appointed a number of scandal-tainted Washington old-timers to key posts and talked the bipartisan talk while walking the partisan walk. Now we see he may want to treat the Constitution as toilet paper — just like Bush.
If Obama does not reverse the abuses of the Bush administration when it comes to treatment of prisoners then neither he or the Democrats can claim any moral or high ground when it comes to pursuing Bush or others involved in such abuses.
If Obama continues to operate under the same cloak of secrecy that marked the Bush administration he is no better than the former President when it comes to disgracing the Constitution and nation.
Since becoming President, Obama has not shown any willingness to roll back the many abuses of the rights-robbing USA Patriot Act. He did vote for some rollbacks as a Senator but also voted to reauthorize the act which — in itself — raises questions about his commitment to protecting the rights of Americans.
So far, Attorney General Eric Holder has played lip service to questions on torture, defining waterboarding as torture but leaving the door open to employ “aggressive interrogation techniques” against prisoners in the future.
A word of advice to the Obama choir. Your shrill defense of anything he does sounds more and more like the GOP’s rabid defense of Bush’s abuses of power and disregard of the Constitution during his first term. Many of Bush’s die-hard supporters later regretted their steadfast defense.