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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 4/22/09

Obama's Complicity in Bush/Cheney Lawbreaking

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Message John Sodrel
Last week was a very bad week for the rule of law in this country....

It's well known now that the Bush/Cheney administration illegally wiretapped Americans without warrants following 9/11 in direct violation of the long-standing FISA statute, and then in 2007 and 2008 a spineless, Democratic-controlled Congress, including then-Senator Barack Obama, codified that lawbreaking in an updated FISA law which most civil libertarians consider to be overly broad, constitutionally questionable, and lacking constraints. Now it turns out the latter concern, at least, was warranted--surprise!--since even this dubious new law didn't stop the lawbreaking:

Officials Say U.S. Wiretaps Exceeded Law
www.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/us/16nsa.html
The NYT's predictable revelation: new FISA law enabled massive abuses
www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/04/16/nsa/index.html
NSA Spies On Americans Outside The Law

www.aclu.org/safefree/general/39386prs20090416.html

In spite of this the current administration plans to continue the program as is, which isn't surprising considering Obama voted for it, but what is disturbing (if not surprising) is that Obama is not only supine on the unquestionable lawbreaking regarding eavesdropping by the Bush/Cheney administration but is actually trying to thwart any accountability for it:

Obama's efforts to block a judicial ruling on Bush's illegal eavesdropping
www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/02/28/al_haramain/index.html
Court Rejects Obama Admin's Effort To Stop Wiretapping Suit
[now being appealed]
www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/27/court-rejects-obama-bid-t_n_170690.html
Obama sides with Bush on wiretaps
www.msnbc.msn.com/id/3036677#30096316

But it gets worse....much worse.

On Thursday we got our best look yet at the depravity and radicalism that was the prior administration when Obama's Justice Department, under pressure from an ACLU lawsuit, released four more so-called torture memos written by Bush/Cheney's legal hack sycophants in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC):

Justice Department Releases Bush Administration Torture Memos
www.aclu.org/safefree/torture/39393prs20090416.html

Unlike the nine memos released last month which attempted to justify and give bogus legal cover for torture, these latest memos, one of which was written by former OLC head and current Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Jay Bybee, provide excruciatingly vile, shocking details about how to "lawfully" inflict torture:

Human Beings Without Humanity
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/white-house-watch/torture/human-beings-without-humanity.html
CIA interrogation tactics: a terrifying ordeal
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090417/ap_on_go_pr_wh/torture_memos_tactics
High Priests of OLC Turned CIA Torture Into Holy Acts
http://washingtonindependent.com/39259/high-priests-of-olc-turned-cia-torture-into-holy-acts

And even though Bush/Cheney unequivocally knew their administration committed torture--an OLC memo admitted as much--all the while proclaiming--lying--publicly, "We do not torture"
and euphemistically referring to the clearly illegal acts as "enhanced interrogation techniques," some ethically/morally-challenged conservatives and former administration officials sickeningly but not surprisingly reacted to the release of these memos with indifference for the torture itself and were only concerned with people knowing how we tortured:

Bush Memo Footnotes Define Waterboarding As Torture
www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/04/16/bush-memo-footnotes-defin_n_188008.html
The President Ties His Own Hands on Terror
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123993446103128041.html
The Memos: Torture Redefined | No Harm, No Torture
http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/16/the-memos-torture-redefined/#rivkin

[To be fair, though, not all conservatives embraced the abominable torture techniques:
The Banality Of Evil
http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/04/the-banality-of-evil.html]

Most shameful of all, though, is what President Obama said out of both sides of his mouth in a statement regarding the release of the memos -- that the U.S. is "a nation of laws" and his administration was adhering to "the rule of law" by releasing and repudiating them, but in the same breath those who actually committed torture and, thus, broke the law "will not be subject to prosecution" and would even be defended by the DOJ against any and all charges brought by others:

Obama shields CIA interrogators from charges
www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2009/04/16/obama_to_shield_cia_interrogators_from_charges
No charges over CIA waterboarding
http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2009/04/200941619836194757.html
Obama: No charges for harsh CIA interrogation
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090416/ap_on_go_ca_st_pe/torture_memos

By granting blanket immunity for anyone who actually carried out torture, if not for those who justified and authorized and condoned it, the Obama administration is just as guilty now of lawbreaking on this issue as its predecessor. The U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), a treaty signed and ratified by the U.S. meaning it has the force of law under the Constitution, mandates torturers be held accountable -- there is no wiggle room. The U.N., rights groups, and even some strong Liberals like Keith Olbermann, among others, have rightly taken Obama to task for this deplorable decision:

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John Sodrel is a freelance photographer and political activist in Louisville, KY, who is trying to right the wrongs of the Bush/Cheney administration and wants to make sure they aren't repeated by Obama or any future administrations. He is (more...)
 
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Obama's Complicity in Bush/Cheney Lawbreaking