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    • The End of the Rebels in the Ukraine and the Ukraine’s Future
      We’re down to street fighting in Donetsk.  The Russian leaders resigned in the last two weeks.  The rebels appear to be done, at least in terms of their conventional military phase (of course, I could be wrong depending on how much stomach Ukrainian troops have for house to house fighting).  It seems like that would [...]
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Monday Morning News and Views: More Broken Promises

This morning I want to highlight the latest presidential broken promise: Obama’s failure to follow through on his executive order of January 22, 2009 to close Guantanamo. Last Thursday, the day before the promised closing date, press secretary Robert Gibbs said the White House still has no timetable for when the prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba will be closed, if ever.

This is an excellent essay by Stephen Handelman: The Guantanamo Conumdrum.

Civil liberties advocates warn the President’s failure to close the military prison, as promised, will lead to “grave consequences”

Will Guantánamo Bay ever close? On Jan. 22, 2009, President Barack Obama won worldwide praise when he signed an executive order pledging to close the controversial military prison “no later than one year from now.”

But on the eve of the anniversary of his promise last week, an anonymous “administration official” told The New York Times that up to 50 detainees would continue to be held at Guantánamo without trial for an indefinite period: they were, he explained, too difficult to prosecute, but too dangerous to release.

Last week, Dakinikat blogged about Scott Horton’s recent piece in Harpers about the “suicides” that were really murders. Andy Worthington, an activist and author of a book on the prisoners at Guantanamo also blogged about Horton’s article. Worthington writes that the knowledge of the cover-up of the murders of three prisoners

should lead to robust calls for an independent inquiry, but the problem may be that almost every branch of the government appears to be implicated in the cover-up that followed the deaths.

As Horton describes it, an official “suicide” narrative was soon established, and widely accepted by the media, if not by former prisoners and the dead men’s families. With extraordinary cynicism, Rear Admiral Harry Harris, the commander at Guantánamo, not only declared the deaths “suicides,” but added, “I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us.” What was not mentioned were the rags stuffed into the prisoners’ mouths, even though this knowledge was widespread throughout the prison. Horton adds that when Col. Mike Bumgarner, the warden at Guantánamo, held a meeting the following morning, “the news had circulated through Camp America that three prisoners had committed suicide by swallowing rags.”

Truly, is there any hope for our country? Look how far down the road to fascism we have gone! In another piece, Obama’s Countdown to Failure on Guantanamo, Worthington writes:

Barring some frankly unattainable miracle, this will be the week that President Obama’s international credibility, regarding his promises to undo the Bush administration’s “War on Terror” detention policies, takes a nosedive.

The President began well, freezing the much-criticized Military Commissions trial system on his first day in office, and, on his second day, issuing executive orders requiring Guantánamo to be closed within a year, and upholding the absolute ban on torture that had been so cynically manipulated by the Bush administration.

and then he goes on to document the series of cowardly actions by the Obama administration that have led to this point. Will Obama ever do anything to change course from the Bush administration’s cynical policies? It doesn’t look that way. In fact, the latest plan is to hold 47 Guantanamo detainees indefinitely without trial. There were protests from human rights groups.

“If you close Guantanamo but leave individuals detained without charge or trial you’re just making a cosmetic change,” said Jameel Jaffer, director of the ACLU National Security Project.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, which has represented several Guantanamo detainees in federal court cases, blasted the administration.

“Today was supposed to be the deadline by which President Obama would close Guantanamo. Now it will be the anniversary of the president’s decision to abandon our most fundamental constitutional principles,” the center said in a written statement.

Amnesty International USA chimed in with a stinging criticism.

“If the president accepts the DOJ task force recommendation to hold anyone indefinitely, this policy will not keep Americans safe; instead it will ensure that Guantanamo will continue to be al Qaeda’s top recruiting tool,” said Tom Parker, Amnesty’s policy director for counterterrorism.

I heard a rumor this morning that the WH is now backtracking on this, but I couldn’t find a link. It’s hard to see what they will be able to do at this point–especially as long as Obama wants to “look forward, not back” and continue using his Justice Department to protect Bush and Cheney from accountability for their war crimes. Continue reading

Sunday: Who is Sheila Bair?

Sheila Bair, 2nd most powerful woman in the world
Sheila Bair, 2nd most powerful woman in the world

If you want to hear Obamaphile Extraordinaire Terry Gross squirming in her chair, skip the Gene Simmons interview.  The most entertaining interviews this year have been the ones Terry has had with Theresa Ghilarducci, a pensions and retirement specialist, and Robert Kuttner who wrote and published the book, Obama’s Challenge: America’s Economic Crisis and the Power of a Transformative Presidency.  Kuttner is being clever here.  What he’s actually doing is challenging Obama.  During the interview, one gets the distinct sense that Kuttner *knows* that Obama is not a transformative president.  It’s not in Obama’s character.  But he is trying to force grim realities upon Obama in the hopes that he will step up to the plate and deliver.

Those grim realities, and the possibility that a new president with approximately 142 days of Senatorial experience is going to be facing the most serious crisis since the Great Depression, make Terry very uncomfortable.  It’s like, “What do you *want* from him???  He just gave you the warm fuzzies?  Isn’t this enough???  Presidentin’ is really hard!”  I just love this exchange:

Kuttner:  I think the whole point is that crisis can be turned into opportunity but that Obama has to be very bold in the way he proceeds.

Gross:  But that’s the problem, isn’t it?  I mean, there are so many places that have grave financial need now.  Cities and states, uh, infrastructure, bank bailouts, homeowner bailouts, the auto industry wants money.

Kuttner:  Hmm-mmm.

Gross:  I mean, there’s a kind of crisis in every sector, so how do you decide what your priorities are?  That’s going to be a really hard one for Obama, don’t you think??

Yes, Terry, we *do* think.  And we have thought this for some time now.  That is why we did not support Obama.  We thought it would be too overwhelming for a guy with no knowledge of the executive branch or how the mechanisms of government actually worked.

Terry seems genuinely shocked that the economy is seriously smothering her pleasure in the nation’s self-actualization over the Obama victory.  My advice is to enjoy is while you can.  The $^*( hits the fan when the inauguration is over and the drum lines go home to Georgia.

Kuttner mentions several possibilities for Treasury Secretary.  Larry Summers is at the top of Obama’s list but not Kuttner’s.  Summers was too involved in deregulation in the 90’s.  He also mentions Governor of NJ, Jon Corzine, to which I reply, “Take him!  PLEASE!”  But Kuttner points out that Corzine was once the CEO of Goldman-Sachs and we already have enough incest between Treasury and Wall Street.

Then he mentions Sheila Bair, the head of the FDIC.  You may be surprised to know that this woman that probably no one has heard of is the 2nd most powerful woman in the world behind Angela Merkel.  She’s a very smart, very tough administrator who was right on top of the bank mergers of recent months. Democratic Cogresscritters like her. She’s also a Republican but one who is friendly to regulation.  Weird.  I guess such creatures aren’t mythical after all.

So, here we have a well-respected, pro-regulation, Republican administrator who is also a woman.

Will Obama go with Bair for Sec. of Treasury?  And what will it say about the transformative nature of Obama’s presidency if he defaults to Summers, a deregulator who thinks women aren’t smart enough to compete with men in math and science?

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