It’s hard to think of a single area of U.S. policy where then candidate Obama promised change and now President Obama has not completely reversed his former position and reverted to the policies of Bush & Co. Some may call Obama a socialist, but he has moved his position on almost every single issue, a shift that he himself seems to justify as finding middle ground; ironically the middle is in right field. I guess the only change we can believe in now is Obama’s change of heart.
In a series of excellent articles over the past few days, Glenn Greenwald has exposed many of the hypocrisies in Obama’s Bushness and Democrats’ acquiescence to that Bushness:
- How the U.S. government demands civilian trials for American who are suspects of terrorism in foreign countries on human rights grounds, but thinks there is nothing wrong with us denying terrorist suspects the same protection under U.S. law or even any sort of trial whatsoever. “Somehow, it was a grave violation of due process for [a foreign government] to try accused foreign Terrorists before military tribunals, but not for [the Obama Administration] to hold them for as long as we want with no charges of any kind.”
- The McCarthyite attack on detainee lawyers, unchallenged by either the Administration or Democrats.
- The Obama War on Whistleblowers, making this administration even less transparency-friendly than the Bush administration.
- How little attention is spent discussing the two indefinite wars during the present campaign season as the Democrats have institutionalized the Bush war machine. Just look at how the country spends its money. We are a warrior state. It is, sorry Mr. Voegeli, the Limitless
- Obama wins the right to detain people with no habeas review. Even if we may think we’re closing Guantanamo, the Obama Administration has argued and won a decision at the federal court level which allow it to deny any detainee anywhere in the world habeas review (that basic fundamental due process right to have your mere detention challenged) if the detainee is transferred to a detention center in a war zone. In other words, if we want to deny someone due process, all the administration need do is to move them to a war zone (aka, Bagram prison in Afghanistan) where the normal rules of justice vanish in thin air.
Few issues highlight Barack Obama’s extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world — far away from any battlefield — and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called “Bush’s legal black hole.” In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo. Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.
. . . This is what Barack Obama has done to the habeas clause of the Constitution: if you are in Thailand (as one of the petitioners in this case was) and the U.S. abducts you and flies you to Guantanamo, then you have the right to have a federal court determine if there is sufficient evidence to hold you. If, however, President Obama orders that you be taken to from Thailand to Bagram rather than to Guantanamo, then you will have no rights of any kind, and he can order you detained there indefinitely without any right to a habeas review. That type of change is so very inspiring — almost an exact replica of his vow to close Guantanamo . . . all in order to move its core attributes (including indefinite detention) a few thousand miles North to Thompson, Illinois.
As IOZ writes,
Considered historically, it will become clear that the job of Republican governments is to invent novel, ad hoc expansions of state power, while the job of Democratic governments is to consolidate and systematize them. Far from repudiating supposed Bush-era “excesses,” the Obama regime has sought–usually successfully–to entrench and to codify them. This is just the latest example.
Now that’s cynicism we can believe in. It makes you wonder whether what is most extraordinary about Obama’s presidency is just how ordinary his politics have become. I don’t mean to be a hater, but we need to demand more from our political class, and that includes the President.
In a semi-related matter, Greenwald also writes a nice article — in the same vain as a recent post here — on the hypocrisy of our standards vs. theirs, how they are “irrational, misled, conspiratorial” whereas as we are the sane, rational ones. I just wish we’d worry more about ourselves and not others. Like this exaggerated article about how Moroccans are up in a frenzy (which they are surely not) over an Elton John concert in there country; meanwhile the U.S. Congress is debating whether American soldiers are man enough to go to battle alongside gays and lesbians. I don’t think robot-piloted drones aren’t going solve their homophobia.