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"Top Cover"

By       Message Jayne Lyn Stahl       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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View Ratings | Rate It Headlined to H3 10/26/08

Author 1927
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  Don't expect the earth to move on the morning of November 5th if, as we hope, Barack Obama wins this election, unless you happen to live in Northern California where it's been moving a lot. The work begins with his election, and doesn't end there.

An Obama win will mark the beginning, not the end, of the work that needs to be done. Undoing the damage of the Bush administration will not only take time, but resolve.

The election has managed to provide cover for Mr. Bush, and eclipse an outcry after revelations, by The Washington Post, more than a week ago, that his administration issued a pair of classified memos to the CIA that "explicitly endorsed" so-called enhanced alternative interrogation techniques.

The officials who divulged the fact that the Bush administration gave the green light to torture came forward anonymously, and said that their primary reason for talking now is to avoid ramifications, and allegations that they took it into their own hands to waterboard detainees, and use other interrogation methods traditionally considered torture.

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As these memos still remain classified, the agents, in question, want to come clean now before they are made public to insist that they had "top cover," that is, to insist that the executive branch signed off on their activities, and would immunize their actions.

The CIA has done nothing less than provide proof that this administration lied to the American people when it said "we do not torture." And, it is up to us, each and every one of us going to the polls on November 4th, to see to it that no president again gets to provide "top cover" to actions by our intelligence agencies and military that are in direct violation of Geneva and international law.

It is up to us to ensure an end to the practice of classifying, and declassifying, information to avoid prosecution, an end to abuse of signing statements, national security letters, and turning law enforcement into terror specialists. The practice of breaking the law then making it law, which has shattered our moral credibility both at home and abroad, must stop.

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Any president who hopes to end the economic misery in which we find ourselves today must recognize the need to move from a wartime to a peacetime economy. It is not enough to create green jobs, but instead engender a vision that will ultimately lead, as JFK once said, to "complete and total disarmament" through dismantling the big business of independent military contractors, and wartime manufacture. A government that makes peace more profitable than war is one that provides the leadership needed to move us from a state of continual peril.

If all the major superpowers of the world can meet in a summit, and agree to work together to end the global economic crisis, then they can agree to work together to end war, and eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Moreover, those who committed war crimes, during the Bush administration, must be held to account, and the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which renders them immune must be overturned. The new administration must work to recover some of the 5 million "destroyed" White House e-mails which prove the deliberate pattern of deception in the lead-up to the war in Iraq, just as it must undo the Patriot Act, and restore dignity to the First and Fourth Amendments.

An Obama administration must keep its word, and be one that commits to peace through negotiation, not bloodshed through bullying, and troop withdrawal not redeployment.

As president, Barack Obama will have a lot on his plate, and will need our support, but we must ensure that he's not distracted, and compromised, by those mega special interests who will, no doubt, slip gold into his pocket in order to ensure his allegiance, and protection.

Wall Street, credit card companies, and other usurers, require regulation, as do employers who skirt the law by discouraging union participation, and creating a climate of fear in which workers eat lunch hunched over their desks. Sweatshops that exploit so-called "illegal immigrants," pay them well below minimum wage, force them to live in subhuman conditions, and subject them to dreadful conditions must be stopped. Those who deliver drugs to our inner cities, and profit off the downward mobility of youngsters of color must be stopped.

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The great civil rights struggle, of our times, is for economic equity as the Rev. Martin Luther King observed. A Democratic president must pledge continued support for affirmative action, and an infrastructure that builds opportunity. The politics of privilege must end with the Republican revolution, and be relegated to the era of the dinosaur where it belongs.

The days when any president gets to provide cover for subordinates who commit war crimes must end on the night of November 4, 2008 when we elect Barack Obama as our 44th president.

But, keep in mind that Obama is one man, and one man only. The framers of the Constitution never intended all that power to be in the hands of one man. They left England to get away from a monarchy.

The idea of "unitary executive" was chiefly engineered by the same fellows who tried to slip torture through the cracks. Ultimately, the power rests not in the presidency, but in us.
Si se puede means yes WE can; prepare to roll up your sleeves, and get to work as the work begins with an Obama victory. We don't need revolution, in this country, so much as resolution.

To paraphrase another much loved president: "Ask not what Obama can do for you, but what you can do for Obama."


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Widely published, poet, playwright, essayist, and screenwriter; member of PEN American Center, and PEN USA. Jayne Lyn Stahl is a Huffington Post blogger.

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