Monday, June 29, 2009

And It Came to Pass in the Age of Obama

cross-posted at the Widdershins

In the months following 9/11, George W. Bush squandered soaring personal popularity as president both at home and abroad by pursuing policies in the name of national security that compromised the constitutional rights of Americans and alienated international allies.

Candidate Barack Obama accused John McCain of representing a third Bush term. Since Obama’s inauguration as president, however, his Bushian decisions have continually dismayed his devout supporters, while the rest of us can only shake our heads as we watch a rerun of a popular president leading the country down the same disastrous road.

The fact that Obama, a non-tenured track lecturer, padded his thin resume by claiming to have been a constitutional law professor ought to have alerted the electorate. But those were the days of Obama-luv when even the more staid types spoke in hallowed terms of “the age of Obama,” as if we were anointing a pharaoh or king instead of electing a president.

Martin Garbus, trial lawyer and author of six books on constitutional law, summarizes at Huffpo what has come to pass in the age of the faux professor:

Denying the public information, rejecting the public's free speech "right to know" has become a pattern of this administration. Obama has become radical in his commitment to secrecy, not totally unlike the Bush administration.

Late Friday, June 26, 2009:

1. Obama announced a plan to draft laws to detain terror suspects indefinitely.
2. Obama announced it would be done by exec order so as to bypass Congress. The Washington Post article which caught the events was entitled "Executive order of detainees would sidestep Congress."
3. Obama's Attorney General told a federal judge that the suit by the families of the four detainees who committed suicide at the Guantanamo Bay prison should be dismissed because the issue is "fraught with political and military concerns" and Cheney, the government lawyers and the others have immunity from prosecution.
4. Obama's Attorney General again delayed release of a 2004 CIA report which paved the way for detainee waterboarding, sleep deprivation and physical abuse. An extraordinary article by Luke Mitchell in this month's Harper's Magazine shows we are continuing that torture.
5. Obama's Attorney General delayed, again, turning over 35 Bush Era defense documents to Judge William K. Hellerstein, a New York federal judge on a suit filed by the ACLU.

Garbus concludes:

Hasn't he learned.

We see the similarities between the two administrations; similarities Obama promised us we would never see.

The First Amendment requires the government to be transparent. It requires the people be told exactly what the government is doing in their name. That is what democracy is about.

Obama's attempt at secrecy, continued torture and repression of speech must be stopped.

This reader’s comment following Garbus’ post would be funny it were not so pathetically tragic:


For the first few months, I thought Obama was playing third-dimensional chess, or stalling for time, or something....

Now I no longer believe he means what he says regarding transparency. His stated preference to "look forward, not back" regarding the constitutional abuses of the Cheney/Bush years was bad enough, but his administration's refusal to launch investigations (and criminal prosecutions where appropriate) has mutated into an actual protection of the previous admin... going so far as to, with a straight face, offer ridicule by late-night comics as a rationale for concealment. Obama has become an accomplice to the Bush years, not that that will buy him any "bipartisan" friends.

Even when I believe he's telling the truth about what he intends--preferring a public option for health care, for example, or wanting stronger regulation of the economy--it looks like he's too willing to roll over and trade it all away for the sake of compromising with people who prefer to destroy everything we elected Obama for.

I'm done with supporting this guy, unless and until he grows a backbone and gets serious about the promises he made. "Politics as usual" isn't going to cut it.

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