We examined what Obama should regarding his predecessor's war crimes in the previous articles "The US has to prosecute W for war crimes" at click here and "W broke international laws; Obama should prosecute." at click here We wanted Obama to prosecute W for his illegal torturing of detainees and rendition, eavesdropping on US citizens and unconstitutional usurpation of presidential powers, but there is a very real chance that we are going to be disappointed.
The Democrats letting the GOP off the hook for their crimes is a historical pattern. It has failed and it serves no purpose. It hasn't--in times gone by--silenced them, and currently Cheney and W's political brain are the most vocal propagandists. Opinions vary on Obama's decision this week regarding big bro 43's torture crimes. The current administration said they will not prosecute CIA officers who used harsh interrogation techniques with the department's legal blessing.
But in a carefully worded statement, they left open the possibility that operatives and higher-level administration officials could face jeopardy. What does that mean? Obama should immediately follow House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers April 4th 2009 plea for a special prosecutor to conduct a criminal inquiry into "war on terror" policies of the Bush administration, including whether "enhanced interrogation techniques" used on alleged terrorist detainees violated international and federal laws against torture. On the liberal side opinions include the "Future of US Depends on Torture Accountability" and concern that Obama will destroy torture evidence.
The article "Countdown Special Comment: Future of US Depends on Torture Accountability" at click hereclick here details that "The Bush Administration's legacy of torture interrogation may dip further into obscurity if the Obama Administration's vow to decommission overseas detention black sites means evidence of torture would be destroyed. That's the fear the ACLU is voicing in a little-publicized letter this week to preserve any and all evidence relating to the recently-disclosed CIA black sites where terrorism suspects were held." It is not right that foreign countries are dealing with the dirty laundry W has left for Obama and that Obama might be impeding their work. The article continues "Days ago, it was reported that Spanish officials would seek indictments against members of the Bush Administration for allegedly authorizing torture, and a Wall Street Journal article claimed that the current administration "is leaning toward keeping secret some graphic details of tactics allowed in Central Intelligence Agency interrogations." Slipping through the cracks is W's and Obama's use of the NSA to spy on US citizens. The article "Obama Administration quietly expands Bush's legal defense of wiretapping program" at click here states "In a stunning defense of President George W. Bush's warrantless wiretapping program, President Barack Obama has broadened the government's legal argument for immunizing his Administration and government agencies from lawsuits surrounding the National Security Agency's eavesdropping efforts. In fact, a close read of a government filing last Friday reveals that the Obama Administration has gone beyond any previous legal claims put forth by former President Bush." The article "Obama fails his first test on civil liberties and accountability--resoundingly and disgracefully" at click here states "We are shocked and deeply disappointed that the Justice Department has chosen to continue the Bush administration's practice of dodging judicial scrutiny of extraordinary rendition and torture. This was an opportunity for the new administration to act on its condemnation of torture and rendition, but instead it has chosen to stay the course.
Now we must hope that the court will assert its independence by rejecting the government's false claims of state secrets and allowing the victims of torture and rendition their day in court. What makes this particularly appalling and inexcusable is that Senate Democrats had long vehemently opposed the use of the "state secrets" privilege in exactly the way that the Bush administration used it in this case, even sponsoring legislation to limits its use and scope. Yet here is Obama, the very first chance he gets, invoking exactly this doctrine in its most expansive and abusive form to prevent torture victims even from having their day in court, on the ground that national security will be jeopardized if courts examine the Bush administration's rendition and torture programs--even though (a) the rendition and torture programs have been written about extensively in the public record; (b) numerous other countries have investigated exactly these allegations; and (c) other countries have provided judicial forums in which these same victims could obtain relief." What excuse can we give when confronted with what Obama is doing? The article continues "There wasn't a more enthusiastic Obama supporter during the campaign than Andrew Sullivan. Here is what he wrote just now: The Obama administration will continue the cover-up of the alleged torture of the British resident. The argument is that revealing the extent of the man's torture and abuse would reveal state secrets.This is a depressing sign that the Obama administration will protect the Bush-Cheney torture regime from the light of day. And with each decision to cover for their predecessors, the Obamaites become retroactively complicit in them. So what are they hiding from us? Wouldn't you like to know? There is no viable excuse, or even mitigation, for what they did here."
It wasn't just awkwardness that Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero felt when he met Obama on April 9,2009. Spain's legal system utilization of "universal jurisdiction" permits his country to prosecute foreign nationals for crimes that shock the conscience of the global community. Obama's "willingness for understanding" and "vision of things" made a "magnificent impression" on Zapatero, he said, adding that his prediction was that a fluid dialogue between the two countries would develop, something he said would be good for Spain. Zapatero realizes he might need the US' help for something in the future so he put up a facade of good will, but imagine the contempt that Zapatero must have felt for Obama for stonewalling the prosecution of his predecessor's war crimes.
Liberals hated W's usurpation of presidential powers, but once big bro 43 took them Obama isn't likely to return them and even the vile Cheney has accurately predicted that. The article "Cheney: Obama Won't Give Back Power" at click here looks objectively at "unitary executive power and Cheney is quoted "Once they get here and they're faced with the same problems we deal with every day, then they will appreciate some of the things we've put in place," Cheney said during an interview on Rush Limbaugh's radio show. "We did not exceed our constitutional authority, as some have suggested," Cheney insisted. "The President believes, I believe very deeply, in a strong executive, and I think that's essential in this day and age. And I think the Obama administration is not likely to cede that authority back to the Congress. I think they'll find that given a challenge they face, they'll need all the authority they can muster." The article continues "It's long been said that the Constitution creates "an invitation to struggle" between the executive and legislative branches. With rare exceptions, the executive has been winning since roughly 1933. Presidents, especially during wars and other emergencies, push the limits on their power, usually succeed, and the office retains more power than it had once the crisis is over."
The fact that W's political advisor has a weekly newspaper column and appearances as a Fox News analyst to spread the propaganda that big bro 43 was a success and that Obama is failing. Rove has stated "That Obama demonstrates borderline obsessiveness in blaming Mr. Bush," and he accused the new president of building up his administration by tearing down his predecessor's. "The new president's jabs at Mr. Bush have been unceasing, unfair and unhelpful," Rove wrote. "They have also diminished Mr. Obama by showing him to be another conventional politician." If Obama was on the offense against the GOP ghouls for their roles in domestic and war crimes then they would not have as much time to prepare salvos against him. Besides, if he doesn't prosecute them for war crimes then he is obstructing justice. Conyers' and Leahy's plans to investigate W's crimes need support from the Obama administration! We hated big bro 43 because he was a radical GOP goon. Typically we can expect a right-wing extremist to get us into wars, create hate lists, and claim executive privilege to stonewall their crimes. Well Cheney knew what happened to "Tricky Dick" as he was the chief of staff for the fool Ford who took Nixon's place. So Cheney spiffed up unitary executive powers and claimed W could do anything he wanted during a time of war. He had to sell the apathetic red staters that fighting al-queda was an "everlasting war against terrorism." Now that they are out of office he and "Turd Blossom" are maintaining this hypocrisy! It clearly defines the problem of not allowing there a special counsel dealing with these crimes immediately. Keith Olbermann gave a little history of how Democrats allowed the GOP to push forward their illegal activity incrementally as it states "And we "moved forward" with McCarthyism and got Watergate. We "moved forward" with Watergate and junior members of the Ford administration realized how little was ultimately at risk. They grew up to be Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.
Mr. President, when you say we must "come together on behalf of our common future" you are entirely correct. We must focus on getting things right in the future, as opposed to looking at what we got wrong in the past. That means prosecuting all those involved in the Bush administration's torture of prisoners, even if the results are nominal punishments, or merely new laws. Your only other option is to let this fester indefinitely. Because, Sir, some day there will be another Republican president, or even a Democrat just as blind as Mr. Bush to ethics and this country's moral force. And he will look back to what you did about Mr. Bush. Or what you did not do. And he will see precedent. Or as Cheney saw, he will see how not to get caught next time.
Prosecute, Mr. President. Even if you get not one conviction, you will still have accomplished good for generations unborn. Merely by acting, you will deny a further wrong--that this construction will enter the history books: Torture was legal. It worked. It saved the country. The end. This must not be. "It is our intention," you said today, "to assure those who carried out their duties relying in good faith upon legal advice from the Department of Justice that they will not be subject to prosecution." Mr. President, you are making history's easiest, most often made, most dangerous mistake--you are accepting the defense that somebody was "just following orders." At the end of his first year in office, Mr. Lincoln tried to contextualize the Civil War for those who still wanted to compromise with evils of secession and slavery. "The struggle of today," Lincoln wrote, "is not altogether for today. It is for a vast future also."
Obama must not impede the naming of a special counsel to deal with Bush's war crimes. The article concludes "Mr. president, you have now been handed the beginning of that future. Use it to protect our children and our distant descendants from anything like this ever happening again - by showing them that those who did this, were neither unfairly scapegoated nor absolved. It is good to say "we won't do it again." It is not, however...enough."