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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/23/09

Painful Truth in Cheney's Spat with Obama

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  The painful truth in former Vice President Dick Cheney’s spat with President Obama is that there are still far too many places where Obama’s policy resembles Bush policy on the terrorism war.  In the waning days of his last term Bush scrapped some of the worst of the legally and morally obscene interrogation tactics. He partially emptied the bulging cells of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay. He even tried to do a half hearted kiss and make up with European allies who vehemently opposed US torture tactics. The courts ruled that the Bush administration grossly violated constitutional and legal precepts by scooping up and holding terror suspects with no or flimsy charges and no trials. The Bush shifts and changes dovetail with Obama’s position on the most blatant abuses. But Obama hasn’t yet gone much further than that.  During the presidential campaign he strongly hinted that he’d dump most if not all of Bush’s executive orders that infringed on civil liberties rights and protections in the war on terror and the Iraq war. There were 31 in all.The best known and most controversial was the executive order that granted wide latitude in loosely defining what and who is a "terrorist combatant," where and how long that individual could be held (indefinitely) and how they should be legally disposed of (none of the standard constitutional protections). Bush didn’t stop there. He  issued Executive Order 13440 in July 2007. The order was deliberately vague and did not spell out what interrogation practices were permissible. The order gave the green light to interrogators to dodge the safeguards spelled out in the Geneva Convention against illegal and inhumane treatment of prisoners. The military took the cue and didn’t miss a beat in their prisoner interrogations. That was only the most naked example of using an executive order to subvert the law. More than two dozen other executive orders that Bush signed into law and that quickly became operational between 2005 and early 2008 slipped far under the public radar scope and got little if any public attention but were  just as abusive. Bush signed another executive order the same week he signed the executive order that subverted the Supreme Court's ruling against him on prisoner interrogation practices. That order blocked the sale and transfer of property of any individual deemed a threat to the stabilization efforts in Iraq. Translated, that meant that anyone who spoke out against the Iraq War could be branded a terrorist and have their property seized. This legally dubious executive order received passing press mention and little lawmaker scrutiny, and as far as is known is still on the books. It is still subject to individual interpretation of who is a terrorist (suspect) and worse who makes that determination. The courts for sure don’t make that determination. The core of the Bush terrorism war is firmly embedded in the executive orders that permit suspects to be held without trial, gives the military the right to determine what interrogation tactics can be used and when, reinforces the paranoid secrecy that encases the military’s dealing with terror suspects. The executive orders were clearly designed to keep the victims from having their day in court, and keeping the courts from giving it to them.  Under Bush policy, targeted killings of terrorists wherever they were or deemed to be, was sacrosant. Obama has not changed that policy.  Nor has he dismantled Bush's patently illegal domestic surveillance policies.  Bush made a deliberate legal mess of the terrorism war, and his executive orders horribly show that. Cheney’s media grandstanding ploy to rap Obama and absolve himself and his boss from legal and moral culpability for their abuses won’t change that. Obama’s arm tussle with Cheney then really  serves no purpose, especially since some of Cheney’s charges about his embrace of Bush policy on terror war are not that far off the mark. Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His weekly radio show, “The Hutchinson Report” can be heard on weekly in Los Angeles on Fridays on KTYM Radio 1460 AM and live streamed nationally on ktym.com  

 

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Earl Ofari Hutchinson is a nationally acclaimed author and political analyst. He has authored ten books; his articles are published in newspapers and magazines nationally in the United States. Three of his books have been published in other (more...)
 
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