Barack W. Obama


This week there were two good examples of the press finally confronting Obama for his hypocrisy in furthering Bush secrecy and torture policies. First it came from the admitted Obama supporter Bob Herbert who wrote,

It was thought by many that a President Obama would put a stop to the madness, put an end to the Bush administration’s nightmarish approach to national security. But Mr. Obama has shown no inclination to bring even the worst offenders of the Bush years to account, and seems perfectly willing to move ahead in lockstep with the excessive secrecy and some of the most egregious activities of the Bush era.

The new president’s excessively cautious approach to the national security and civil liberties outrages of the Bush administration are unacceptable, and the organizations and individuals committed to fairness, justice and the rule of law — the Center for Constitutional Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and many others — should intensify their efforts to get the new administration to do the right thing.

More than 500 of the detainees incarcerated at one time or another at Guantánamo Bay have been released, and, except for a handful, no charges were filed against them. The idea that everyone held at Guantánamo was a terrorist — the worst of the worst — was always absurd.

Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, noted that Mr. Obama had promised to bring both transparency and accountability to matters of national security. It’s the only way to get our moral compass back.

And then yesterday it was White House reporter legend Helen Thomas who, as Glenn Greenwald recounts, interrupted Obama’s press conference to inquire about the obvious hypocrisy in the president’s stance on secrecy:

For the last question at his press conference yesterday, Obama was asked by CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux about his reaction to that video and to reports that Iranians are refraining from protesting due to fear of such violence.  As Obama was answering — attesting to how “heartbreaking” he found the video; how “anybody who sees it knows that there’s something fundamentally unjust” about the violence; and paying homage to “certain international norms of freedom of speech, freedom of expression” — Helen Thomas, who hadn’t been called on, interrupted to ask Obama to reconcile those statements about the Iranian images with his efforts at home to suppress America’s own torture photos (“Then why won’t you allow the photos –“).

The President quickly cut her off with these remarks:

THE PRESIDENT: Hold on a second, Helen. That’s a different question. (Laughter.)

I suppose for John McCain, maybe, President Obama’s cynicism and the subsequent laughter are all manifestations of the beacon of hope and freedom that the U.S. shines on the world. I can just hear McCain and Lindsey Graham — along with cheering masses, Fox News, all of the ultra conservative pundits who populate the so-called liberal media (Krauthammer & Co.), and the yes-Mr. President faux liberals — invoking the spirit of Ronald Reagan, “Mr. President, rebuild that [Guantanamo] prison.” And Obama complies, most articulately, of course.


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