As someone who voted for Barack Obama in 2008, I’ve been disappointed in many of the actions of the Obama administration. None more so than their continuation of the Bush/Cheney policies of dealing with those accused of terrorist activities. I expected much better from a president who professed to be something of a Constitutional scholar, and the administration bowing to pressure over the weekend from those who are against trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and 4 others in New York City has only renewed that disappointment.
It also didn’t help that, in a Newsweek article on Friday, the Obama Justice Department has, what Newsweek called “downgraded” but a better term would be “whitewashed,” a Bush DOJ recommendation that Jay Bybee and John Yoo should be investigated for committing ethical violations in connection with authoring the 2002 torture memos. The Obama DOJ now calls their actions simply “poor judgment.”
In light of that, Glenn Greenwald has an excellent piece in Salon which is a must-read for anyone who shares my concerns, and which compares the Bush/Cheney policies with those of the current administration. The sad fact being that there isn’t much difference. Greenwald writes:
“From indefinite detention and renditions to denial of habeas rights, from military commissions and secrecy obsessions to state secrets abuses, many of the defining Bush/Cheney policies continue unabated under its successor administration.
...it’s now crystal clear that the country, especially its ruling elite, is either too petrified of Terrorism and/or too enamored of the powers which that fear enables to accept any real changes from the policies that were supposedly such a profound violation “of our values.” One can only marvel at the consensus outrage generated by the mere notion that we charge people with crimes and give them trials if we want to lock them in a cage for life. Indeed, what was once the most basic and defining American principle — the State must charge someone with a crime and give them a fair trial in order to imprison them — has been magically transformed into Leftist extremism.”
…there is clearly a bipartisan and institutional craving for a revival (more accurately: ongoing preservation) of the core premise of Bush/Cheney radicalism: that because we’re “at war” with Terrorists, our standard precepts of justice and due process do not apply and, indeed, must be violated.
That “Leftist extremism” would by today’s standards include that noted leftist, Ronald Reagan, whose policy on dealing with terrorists, as stated by L. Paul Bremer, the top Reagan State Department official in charge of Terrorism policies, was this:
“Another important measure we have developed in our overall strategy is applying the rule of law to terrorists. Terrorists are criminals. They commit criminal actions like murder, kidnapping, and arson, and countries have laws to punish criminals. So a major element of our strategy has been to delegitimize terrorists, to get society to see them for what they are — criminals — and to use democracy’s most potent tool, the rule of law against them.”
Greenwald also has the just-released policy of another country in dealing with al-Qaeda, along with some quotes from that country’s leader. See who this sounds like:
“_____ will hold up to 300 al Qaeda members in jail indefinitely after they have completed their prison terms to stop them staging fresh attacks.
“These people are heretics. They are followers of (Osama) Bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahri. They killed a number of civilians and police…It is a necessity to keep them in prison. They are very dangerous as they are ready to resume killing people in our streets here or travel…elsewhere to stage attacks…These people constitute a danger even when the court had pronounced its verdict. Security authorities are the ones who are responsible for this matter to say whether they are dangerous or not. The court verdict is void of reason in such cases.”
The country is Libya. The speaker is Muammar Gaddafi.