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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

When the President does it . . .

nm_greg_craig_090409_ssh

Greg Craig and his boss

 


This way to the Egress:

 

In the first major shakeup among President Barack Obama’s senior staff, White House Counsel Greg Craig is being pushed out in favor of veteran Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer because of a dispute over plans to close the U.S. military prison in Cuba, CNN has learned.

The move will be announced by the White House in the coming days, a senior administration official and a senior Democratic source confirmed. The sources said it could be announced as early as Friday while the president will be in Japan starting a four-nation tour of Asia, which would make it likely the staff change will be overshadowed by other events.

[…]

Democratic officials said Craig was ousted because of frustration among senior White House aides over his handling of the plans to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. As the White House’s top lawyer, Craig was pivotal in advising Obama to sign an executive order during his first week in office promising to shut the prison by the end of January 2010.

In a politically embarrassing move that has frustrated some of the president’s liberal supporters, White House aides have since backed off that deadline, citing complex legal issues surrounding what to do with the approximately 200 terror suspects still detained at Guantanamo.

Some administration officials privately believe Craig should have better anticipated the pitfalls. However, his supporters believe he is being used as a scapegoat and note he was not the only top official who supported the ironclad executive order.

Closing Gitmo isn’t the problem. The problem is what to do with all the people that have been detained by our government for up to eight years without trials. Habeas corpus and due process aren’t “just words.”

The answer is simple – bring them here, give them trials and let the chips fall where they may.  But that won’t happen, it might upset Obama’s fellow Republicans.

It sounds like Craig believes in the rule of law. Too bad for him, cuz his boss doesn’t. The Friday White House News Dump doesn’t usually include bodies, so maybe they’re gonna wait until Saturday night to massacre him.

**********************************

The more things change, the more they remain the same:

The Obama administration is increasingly exasperated by leaks of national-security-related information and is planning a major effort to root out and punish those responsible, top officials said Thursday.

Every administration since George Washington has complained about leaks. But there’s an old saying – “The ship of state leaks from the top.”

Maybe the White House should call a plumber to find and fix the leaks. This guy has some experience at doing that:

 


g_gordon_liddy

 

 


Are you catching the theme of this post? If not, here’s a hint:

 

Continue reading

Failbot Pretzel Logic

koolaid

(This started in the comments of Dakinikat’s morning post but I think it deserves front page attention.)

If you want to see some EPIC FAIL check out this post by John Cole. Responding to a WaPo report that Obama is considering issuing an executive order that would “reassert presidential authority to incarcerate terrorism suspects indefinitely” Cole says:

Not only will this infuriate a certain portion of Obama’s base, but using an executive order for this also completely undercuts any defense regarding his inaction on DADT. I’m not sure what will be funnier- the hysterics of the PUMA crowd or the idiots on the right wing who will crow that Bush has been vindicated, completely missing that the executive order will be issued in order to help Obama repudiate Bush’s handling of Gitmo.

Yeah John, he’s gonna repudiate Bush by copying him, and somehow it’s all our fault.

I should point out that John Cole is a poster boy for Clinton Derangement Syndrome and was a hardcore Bushbot Republican.  He left the GOP and became a Democrat about six months before he started supporting Obama.

IOW – Cole has been a Kool-aid junkie for many years, but about a year and one-half ago he switched flavors.  At least he finally admits that PUMA is on the opposite side of the political spectrum from the wingnuts.

For a thorough discussion of Obama’s tentative proposal for the arbitrary power to lock people up indefinitely without trial read Glenn Greenwald:

There has now emerged a very clear — and very disturbing — pattern whereby Obama is willing to use legal mechanisms and recognize the authority of other branches only if he’s assured that he’ll get the outcome he wants. If he can’t get what he wants from those processes, he’ll just assert Bush-like unilateral powers to bypass those processes and do what he wants anyway.  In other words, what distinguishes Obama from the first-term Bush is that Obama is willing to indulge the charade that Congress, the courts and the rule of law have some role to play in political outcomes as long as they give him the power he wants.  But where those processes impede Obama’s will, he’ll just bypass them and assert the unilateral power to do what he wants anyway (by contrast, the first-term Bush was unwilling to go to Congress to get expanded powers even where Congress was eager to give them to him; the second-term Bush, like Obama, was willing to allow Congress to endorse his radical proposals:  hence, the Military Commissions Act, the Protect America Act, the FISA Amendments Act, etc.).

This paragraph is also noteworthy:

Those journalistic practices produce egregious sentences like this:  “‘Civil liberties groups have encouraged the administration, that if a prolonged detention system were to be sought, to do it through executive order’, the official said.”  I’d love to know which so-called “civil liberties groups” are pushing the White House for an Executive Order establishing the power of indefinite detention.  It’s certainly not the ACLU or Center for Constitutional Rights, both of which issued statements vehemently condemning the proposal (ACLU’s Anthony Romero:  “If President Obama issues an executive order authorizing indefinite detention, he’ll be repeating the same mistakes of George Bush”).

Here’s the money quote from WaPo:

Concerns are growing among Obama’s advisers that Congress may try to assert too much control over the process. This week Obama signed an appropriations bill that forces the administration to report to Congress before moving any detainee out of Guantanamo and prevents the White House from using available funds to move detainees onto U.S. soil.

“Legislation could kill Obama’s plans,” said one government official involved. The official said an executive order could be the best option for the president at this juncture.


The Congress shall have the power . . . to make all laws


Where did I see that before?


Rachel Maddow briefly reverts back to her pre-Kool-aid self: