Friday, August 20, 2010

Shame On President Obama ...

... And shame on us.

What do the UK, Poland, Lithuania, Spain, Australia, Canada have in common? All have official investigations and/or legal cases pending over their countries' role in the CIA's Bush-era programs of kidnapping and torture. One country is noticeably absent from the list: the US.

And that is a shame.

From McClatchy DC:

Arar's case illustrates what lawyers and human rights groups call a shameful trend: While U.S. courts and the Obama administration have been reluctant or unwilling to pursue the cases, countries that once backed former President George W. Bush's war on terrorism are carrying out their own investigations of the alleged U.S. torture program and the role that their governments played in it.

Judges in Great Britain, Spain, Australia, Poland and Lithuania are preparing to hear allegations that their governments helped the CIA run secret prisons on their soil or cooperated in illegal U.S. treatment of terrorism suspects. Spanish prosecutors also have filed criminal charges against six senior Bush administration officials who approved the harsh interrogation methods that detainees say were employed at U.S. military prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and other sites. ...

The trend, although it's slow-moving and involves disparate plaintiffs, forums and legal strategies, could represent the end of a reviled chapter of the U.S.-led war on terrorism, which ensnared hundreds of detainees with the clandestine cooperation of dozens of countries. Now, some of those countries, led by new governments or under pressure from their citizens, are trying to pry open those secrets.

"This is the remarkable thing: Other countries are reckoning with the legacy of the Bush administration's torture program, and meanwhile the United States is not," said Jameel Jaffer, the director of the American Civil Liberties Union's national security program.

"That's part of why we're so concerned. The Obama administration, rather than investigate the abuses of the last eight years, has increasingly become an obstacle to accountability."
[Emphasis added]

The first excuse used by the Obama administration for not examining the actions of its predecessors was that we needed to "look forward, not backward." That justification soon wore thin as in case after case the Justice Department under President Obama used the same worn out legal argument to stop cases against the government from proceeding: "government secrets." When that strategy came under fire, the emphasis shifted to the bizarre legal theory that under the Authority to Use Military Force (AUMF) passed by Congress, that government body ceded not only its own authority to declare war, but the power of the judiciary to examine crimes committed by the government.

That members of the Bush administration subscribed to the Unitary President theory was no surprise. That members of the Obama administration do so as well is absolutely shocking, especially in light of then-candidate Obama's pronouncements and promises on the campaign trail. Shocking and dismaying.

The question then becomes one for the rest of us. What are we going to do about it? If we continue to do nothing, saving our ire for bailed-out banksters and safety-eschewing oil companies, then we deserve the government we have and will continue to have, regardless of the color of the ties worn by its officials. The "New American Century" will be one in which American democracy lost its soul.

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Blogger Joyce said...

"What are we going to do about it?" is indeed the question that needs asking, about this, and other issues. I fully agree that the role of the US related to torture -- a very significant one, in my opinion -- should be investigated; and that in general the Unitary Presidency needs to be challenged.

My own thoughts are that unless and until our corporate, oligarchic two party system is fundamentally challenged by sufficient numbers of "we the people," there's no reason to think the direction we're going will change.

Thanks for your thoughts.

5:55 AM  

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