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Obama echoes Bush: CIA abductees can’t sue

 
 
Thomas
 
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 12:53 am
Not too long ago, when Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency, he was all about human rights. And man did he chastise the Republicans’ approach to them. Time and time again, Obama emphasized (and I’m quoting from memory here) that under his rule America wouldn’t lead the world through the example of its power, but through the power of its example. One of his first acts as president was to announce the shutdown of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay, which had come to symbolize the Bush administration’s fast, loose, and secretive approach to human rights.

Last week, the Obama administration had a perfect opportunity to act on its rhetoric, to set an example of America’s new spirit, to specifically deliver “change we can believe in”. To understand this opportunity, you have to remember that Guantanamo Bay was just the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the iceberg, hidden underneath the waterline from public scrutiny and media symbolism, exists a system of CIA prisons in foreign countries. When the CIA suspects people of connections to terrorism, it snatches them off the streets wherever they live, flies them to those secret prisons, and interrogates them. Credible reports allege that the CIA uses torture to extract information from them. (I’ve written about one of the victims a little over three years ago).

When some of the victims are trying to pursue their cases in federal court, the Bush administration tried to throw out their cases on a theory about government secrets. Obama, consistent with the rest of his human rights rhetoric, sharply criticized Bush for it.

But now that Bush’s secrecy theory is before an appeals court, Obama is changing his mind. Without qualifications, he is now sticking to the Bush position that torture victims cannot sue the CIA, because the torture is a state secret. Here’s the New York Times, reporting from the appeals court hearing:

The New York Times wrote:
“Is there anything material that has happened” that might have caused the Justice Department to shift its views, asked Judge Mary M. Schroeder, an appointee of President Jimmy Carter, coyly referring to the recent election.

“No, your honor,” Mr. Letter replied.

Judge Schroeder asked, “The change in administration has no bearing?”

Once more, he said, “No, Your Honor.” The position he was taking in court on behalf of the government had been “thoroughly vetted with the appropriate officials within the new administration,” and “these are the authorized positions,” he said.

“Change we can believe in”? Yeah right. That is so a year ago!
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Type: Discussion • Score: 30 • Views: 13,744 • Replies: 196

 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 03:05 am
@Thomas,
sigh.

It's what most politicians would do...but still...sigh.
rabel22
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 12:18 pm
@dlowan,
The hell of it is to whom do we turn. The Bush and Regan policies that have put us in this position? We all voted for Obama because of these policies but where do we turn to really gain a government of the people for ALL the people. Democrat, republican, all I see are crooked politicians who are only interested in thier own gain and screw the rest of us.
0 Replies
 
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 12:37 pm
"sigh" is right.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  4  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 01:09 pm
Well it wasn't just campaign promises, he repeated it in his inauguration, when he already had the presidency in hand.

"We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals."

Apparently he was missing some qualifiers, so I'll fix it for him:

"We sometimes reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals when it is politically convenient."
Lash
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 01:18 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Made me laugh out loud.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 02:56 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Yeah.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 03:27 pm
The sad thing is, it isn't just politicians being politicians. Obama activists, including the ones here on A2K, seem at least complacent about it, too. None of the people showing up in this thread belong to the groop who, just months ago, were gushing about Obama like teenagers about their first crush. (You know who you are!) As best I can tell, if any of them have a problem with Obama denying CIA torture victims their day in court, they didn't start threads about it, didn't post any concerns in existing threads -- nothing! Although this story is four days old, I seem to be the first to write about it here.

What's up, Cycloptichorn? Parados? Sozobe? Butrflynet? Any member of the Obama crowd? Do you think human rights aren't such a big deal anymore, now that your man is in charge? Is it denial? Or am I perhaps missing something?

What?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 05:10 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
What's up, Cycloptichorn? Parados? Sozobe? Butrflynet? Any member of the Obama crowd? Do you think human rights aren't such a big deal anymore, now that your man is in charge? Is it denial? Or am I perhaps missing something?


To be fair I only found out after you posted this. I'm traveling (in Guatemala again) and haven't been as up to date on the news as I'd normally be but I hadn't seen this either and it might just not be making the same impact.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 05:21 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Yeah, I just saw this for the first time too. Doesn't look good, but I don't know anything beyond what's here.

Thomas -- when's the last time you saw me say ANYTHING about Obama, yay or boo? I'm still in politics detox mode and still just not following this stuff. Also just plain not on A2K much. This happened to be recently replied to when I checked in just now.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 05:37 pm
Quote:
If this is a harbinger of things to come, it will be a long and arduous road to give us back an America we can be proud of again.”


I wonder which couple of years he is referring to.

The power of propaganda. Even half-ways intelligent people just automatically repeat this propaganda that's been driven into their heads.

Quote:
A Justice Department spokesman, Matt Miller, said the government did not comment on pending litigation, but he seemed to suggest that Mr. Obama would invoke the privilege more sparingly than its predecessor.


Interesting use of subject/object pronouns.

0 Replies
 
parados
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 05:55 pm
@Thomas,
I have been busy the last few days. Today is the first I heard about the story on NPR. I admit I don't know the facts but on it's face I disagree with the decision.

It's 4 days old? Wow. It certainly hadn't made it into my paper unless I skimmed over it.


Gushing like teenagers about their first crush? I don't gush Thomas. Really I don't.
0 Replies
 
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 05:58 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
I'm still in politics detox mode


I wish you every success in licking this addiction, Soz.
0 Replies
 
roger
 
  2  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 06:45 pm
@Thomas,
This isn't really an endorsement of torture and rendition, is it? With nothing to go on except the link to the NYT article, it looks more like there isn't going to be legal action against CIA and the unnamed Boeing subsidiary for activities they were assured were legal at the time.

as to
Quote:
Do you think human rights aren't such a big deal anymore, now that your man is in charge? Is it denial?
I never felt obliged to report every screwup made by the previous administration. There were so many better qualified people to handle that.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 09:00 pm
Robert Gentel wrote:
To be fair I only found out after you posted this.

Sozobe wrote:
Yeah, I just saw this for the first time too.

Fair enough -- but that was my point, wasn't it? The New York Times reported it on February 10. It condemned the Obama administration's turnaround in a comment on February 11. If Bush was still president, news like this would have reached A2K, via dailykos and friends, on February 11 at the latest, more probably in the evening of February 10. Yet here I am, on February 14, posting this on A2K for the first time.

This isn't so much a personal criticism of you, Sozobe and Parados. (I'm the master of detox mode, having entered it long before you all did.) The point is that none of the usual suspects in Obama fandom appears to have cared enough to comment on what must be a fairly major disappointment for them. And this is telling me that something broader is going on.

One side note about the names I named: I don't like Foxfyreesque bromides about "you liberals". So when I state that the usual suspects among Obama supporters are silent, I find it appropriate to name examples of those usual suspects. And, sorry Sozobe and Parados, you're still on my "usual suspect" list. That's all.

Parados wrote:
Gushing like teenagers about their first crush? I don't gush Thomas. Really I don't.

That may be so. But I'll be damned if I let this stand between me and a good line.

roger wrote:
This isn't really an endorsement of torture and rendition, is it? With nothing to go on except the link to the NYT article, it looks more like there isn't going to be legal action against CIA and the unnamed Boeing subsidiary for activities they were assured were legal at the time.

The legal argument is that the CIA's extraordinary rendition program is a state secret, so the victims of the program can't bring their cases to trial without compromising state secrets. If this argument holds, the government can get off the hook on any crimes its agents commit by calling it a state secret. On your point about their being assured their actions were legal at the time: ignorance of the law is no valid defense anywhere else in criminal law. Why should it be a valid defense in this case?
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 09:42 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
Fair enough -- but that was my point, wasn't it? ... . And this is telling me that something broader is going on.


What's odder than the "liberal left" missing it, Thomas, is the "conservative right" missing it.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 09:51 pm
@JTT,
No, it's not odd, because the conservative right isn't pretending to care.
JTT
 
  1  
Reply Sun 15 Feb, 2009 10:10 pm
@Thomas,
Sorry, Thomas but I don't follow you, on the "pretending to care" part.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2009 12:47 am
@JTT,
As I read it T is saying that the right generally did not make a point of criticising the previous president re such human rights issues...in fact they likely agreed with him and did not care about such abuses.

The left, generally, DID make a point of criticising Bush et als' position...thus intimating that they cared about the issue.

If they then do not similarly criticise Obama for behaving the same as Bush did, then one can make the case that they did not, really, care about the abuses...ie were pretending to care.


Not a bad argument if "the left", and especially strong Obama supporters, have seen the news but not commented as they would about Bush.
OGIONIK
 
  1  
Reply Mon 16 Feb, 2009 12:53 am
@dlowan,
they will exact their revenge with other "non-judicial" means then.

good luck to them.
0 Replies
 
 

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