Wednesday, September 02, 2009

A Dented Promise

Leonard Pitts, Jr., a columnist for the Miami Herald, describes in horrifying detail just how the change we expected from President Obama has not really come to fruition. His recent column was reprinted by McClatchy DC and presents the story of Raymond Azar:

Back in April, the U.S. government snatched Raymond Azar out of Afghanistan.

His waist, wrists and ankles were shackled, he was stripped naked and photographed, made to wear headphones, blindfolded, hooded and stuffed into an executive jet for the U.S. Azar says his eyeglasses were taken and he was left in an ice cold room, denied food for 30 hours and told he might never see his wife and children again.

To be fair, Mr. Pitts indicates that the FBI denies the last allegation, but by so doing implicitly accepts the rest as true.

And what horrific crime had Mr. Azar committed? Had he recruited suicide bombers? Had he conspired to bring a dirty bomb into the US?

Not exactly.

According to published reports, Raymond Azar is a Lebanese man who worked for a Lebanese construction company with a multimillion Pentagon contract to do reconstruction work in Afghanistan. Recently, Azar pleaded guilty to paying an Army Corp of Engineers officer in exchange for the officer's approval of the inflated bills. He faces as much as five years behind bars.

In other words, he was a crook. He bribed a US official, another crook, to pay his inflated bills. He should be prosecuted, yes. But stripped naked, photographed, shackled, blindfolded and hooded as he was shipped back to the US without any kind of extradition hearing, or any kind of hearing at all?

We know that under Bush/Cheney this was SOP, but Mr. Azar's nightmare began in April, 2009, four months after Barack Obama, the man who promised us change, took office.

As Mr. Pitts points out, while this is not strictly speaking a "rendition" because Mr. Azar was not shipped to another nation for the torture and mistreatment to obtain a spurious confession, it certainly is more than faintly reminiscent of the last administration's modus operandi. Mr. Obama promised to end that kind of repugnant practice. And voters heard that promise.

I'll tell you something: Barack Obama was elected president in large part on a promise to restore the nation's battered moral authority. He appealed to voters because he seemed to understand what his predecessor did not, i.e., that America must embody ideals bigger than the exigencies and expediencies of the moment.

Somebody should remind him of that. Our ideals are not validated when some guy gets hooded and shackled because he overcharged the government. Our moral authority is not restored when we hide behind the fig leaf of standard operating procedure.

Sometimes a dented promise is worse than no promise at all.

Exactly so.

If Mr. Obama is unwilling to lead in the manner he promised, then perhaps he had best get out of the way so that people of this nation who elected him can de-select him and consider some alternatives.

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Blogger Ruth said...

Welcome back and thanks, Diane. As all you readers may know, Diane got me started blogging, and I do appreciate her.

7:20 AM  
Blogger Woody (Tokin Librul/Rogue Scholar/ Helluvafella!) said...

I have become progresively more certain that the Pukes threw the election in '08, precisely to install in the Presidency someone who would erase the vile taste of Bushevism by becoming even more detested. They surrendered the Senate numerically (but not politically) for the same reasons.

When the Dims settled on the "novelty" slate--either BHO or HRC--they had their "perfect storm."

Not only would neither one (or anyone, for that matter) be able to repair or restore much of the astronomical clusterfux left behind by the Busheviks, but--being already either 'female' or 'black'--there'd already be a substantial "cultural (hegemonic) predisposition" to affix blame on them even if they didn't deserve it.

By the end of a single term by either HRC or BHO, they would be carrying so much baggage that the (white, Murkin proletarian) "majority" would not only reject them, but would also never vote for a 'marginal' candidate again.

With the consequence that the white, murkin proletarian majority would welcome with open arms whatsoever iteration of compassionate fascism the Pukes would care to offer 'em...

1:19 PM  

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