Monday, January 12, 2009

Looking forward with blinders on

More than once in these past few months I've heard the financiers who have torn our economy asunder for their own personal gain called "terrorists." And rightfully so.

Our nation, the world, our way of life is teetering on the brink so that these guys could get facials before their board meetings, and so their families could fly to Courchevel for a skiing vacation.

Undermining our government by destroying its financial base (isn't that what they've done), is treason.

I've heard others who have suggested, seriously, that the crimes against the Constitution by Donald Rumsfeld, John Yoo, Dick Cheney, Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and David Addington, among others, could also be called treason.

So what is Barack Obama suggesting the country do about the treasonists and terrorists under our noses?

Look forward.

As Jerylyn Merritt notes in quoting Obama:

"We're still evaluating how we're going to approach the whole issue of interrogations, detentions, and so forth. And obviously we're going to be looking at past practices and I don't believe that anybody is above the law." Obama said. "But my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing. That doesn't mean that if somebody has blatantly broken the law, that they are above the law. But my orientation's going to be to move forward."

And while he plans to close Guantanamo, he's willing to somehow bend the rules laid out in the Constitution to hold, indefinitely, prisoners who have been accused of doing bad, or who have been tortured to admit they have done so:

"It is more difficult than I think a lot of people realize," the President-elect explained. "Part of the challenge that you have is that you have a bunch of folks that have been detained, many of whom who may be very dangerous who have not been put on trial or have not gone through some adjudication. And some of the evidence against them may be tainted even though it's true. And so how to balance creating a process that adheres to rule of law, habeas corpus, basic principles of Anglo American legal system, by doing it in a way that doesn't result in releasing people who are intent on blowing us up."

Glenn Greenwald doesn't see this as particularly promising, and I have to agree.

Obama today rather clearly stated that he will not close Guantanamo in the first 100 days of his presidency. He recited the standard Jack Goldsmith/Brookings Institution condescending excuse that closing Guantanamo is "more difficult than people realize." Specifically, Obama argued, we cannot release detainees whom we're unable to convict in a court of law because the evidence against them is "tainted" as a result of our having tortured them, and therefore need some new system -- most likely a so-called new "national security court" -- that "relaxes" due process safeguards so that we can continue to imprison people indefinitely even though we're unable to obtain an actual conviction in an actual court of law.

Worst of all, Obama (in response to Stephanopoulos' asking him about the number one highest-voted question on, first submitted by Bob Fertik) all but said that he does not want to pursue prosecutions for high-level lawbreakers in the Bush administration, twice repeating the standard Beltway mantra that "we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards" and "my instinct is for us to focus on how do we make sure that moving forward we are doing the right thing." Obama didn't categorically rule out prosecutions -- he paid passing lip service to the pretty idea that "nobody is above the law," implied Eric Holder would have some role in making these decisions, and said "we're going to be looking at past practices" -- but he clearly intended to convey his emphatic view that he opposes "past-looking" investigations. In the U.S., high political officials aren't investigated, let alone held accountable, for lawbreaking, and that is rather clearly something Obama has no intention of changing.

We've only got one Constitution, and nowhere does it allow us to lock a prisoner up and throw away the key when we don't have legitimate proof of guilt.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Buddy, could you spare some change?