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What He Said and What his Policies are Understandably Don't Match.

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In April of 2008, Obama was vacillating about the prosecution of W for torture. We have better than words about his stance regarding military commissions because he voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006. Obama, contrary to the previous administration sought a "new standard of openness," he said at his swearing-in ceremony Jan. 21. And in a memo to federal agencies, Obama wrote, "In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed or because of speculative or abstract fears; nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of government officials."

Why then is Obama suppressing the release of the torture photos and Obama's Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens? We have gone from "bubble boy" who didn't do nuance to Obama in which every matter is nuanced to death. We have to realize that Obama is in an awful position. If big bro 43 didn't start "GWOT" then all of the messes Obama has to deal with would never have occurred. Obama's options in dealing with them are limited--consequentially "change we can believe in" amounts to next to nothing. And the hatred and willingness of the GOP to resort to the "politics of personal destruction" is unprecedented.

No former vice president ever has attacked the new president as early and as viciously as Cheney has, and Gore had every right to do so. And it is not just Cheney. Recently the GOP tried to pass legislation labeling the Democrats as the "Democratic Socialist" party and they tried to open an investigation into Pelosi's claim that CIA misled Congress. Obama didn't want out and out viciousness in Congress over the investigation and prosecution of W's crew for war crimes, but that is exactly what he has. His first actions were to condemn torture and begin to close the Guantanamo Bay military prison camp--which gave all of the left-leaning Democrats reason for joy. Later the policies began to emerge and the exultation became despair.

The 240 Guantanamo Bay prisoners have nowhere to go. The article "Guantanamo Bay Shows Little Sign Of Closing" at click here regarding if there any signs that Guantanamo Bay is winding down has Jackie Northam who works there stating "In a lot of ways, no. I was out at the maximum security part of the prison [Tuesday], and there is still construction going on there, in addition to the prison that is being built. There was a contract signed before President Obama's order, and so work is going ahead. And there are also smaller improvements in other parts of the camp. In other ways, you do see the effects of the president's executive order. All the military trials are frozen, so there's not the usual activity surrounding that. And I asked the commander of the camp if the detainees know that it's going to be closed, and he said "absolutely." The executive order was posted throughout the camp so the prisoners could see it, and he said that has created a real sense of anticipation among the detainees. One of the guards I spoke with said in his section, the prisoners keep asking him if it's going to happen still." One of the major problems is where would the detainees go as the article states "The U.S. is trying to transfer some of them to European allies, but there hasn't been a lot of joy from that end.

Last week [Defense] Secretary [Robert] Gates was on [Capitol Hill] asking for $50 million just in case a new prison needed to be quickly built on American soil to hold the detainees. But this week, Congress indicated that it wasn't going to provide those funds until the administration came up with a solid plan for what they are going to do with the detainees. At the same time, there has been a lot of opposition in the U.S. to any of the communities that do have the facility to hold the detainees to bring them into their communities. So there's not a real strong sense of what they're going to do with them yet." Looking into the near future of Jan. 20, 2010, as the article predicts "The detention camp at the base will be mothballed, there's no question about that. But the base itself, we're told, will continue to grow. ... It has grown enormously in the past six years, and military officials here say it is being viewed as a prime U.S. military base in the southern region now." How do you condemn torture though, and not prosecute the torturers? Regarding that last April Obama left the door open to a special prosecutor, saying, "What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that's already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. If crimes have been committed, they should be investigated." That sounded like he'd return our national honor and prosecute W and his crew for war crimes and when you heard that he picked Dawn Johnsen to lead the Office of Legal Counsel then it seemed like he would let her drive the process that would result in Cheney getting his just punishment for punishing detainees. In March 2008, she said "We must avoid any temptation simply to move on. We must instead be honest with ourselves and the world as we condemn our nation's past transgressions and reject Bush's corruption of our American ideals. Our constitutional democracy cannot survive with a government shrouded in secrecy, nor can our nation's honor be restored without full disclosure."

Obama voted against the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and later voted to restore habeas corpus to those detained by the U.S.--which had been stripped by the Military Commissions Act, but on May 15th 2009 Obama announced that he will revive military commissions but with greater legal safeguards for defendants. The 2009-05-15 article "Obama: Military Tribunals Will Resume But With Greater Legal Safeguards" at stated "President Obama said Friday he will revive military commissions but with greater legal safeguards for defendants to try some terrorist suspects held at the military base in Cuba. The decision, which follows an intense internal debate, represents something of a reversal by the president who said during the campaign that military courts martial or the federal courts offered a better route to successful prosecution because he said military commissions had been an "enormous failure." These people will be undergoing the same process except as the article states, "The administration will seek a second continuance of proceedings at Guantanamo Bay to finalize reforms to the military commissions system, including a ban on the use of evidence obtained from coercive interrogations, limits on the use of hearsay, more latitude for detainees in selecting attorney, and protections for defendants who refuse to testify." What is an objective view of this?

The article continues "It is troubling that President Obama has apparently chosen to revive the flawed military commissions he rightly denounced during his campaign," said Virginia Sloan, president of the Constitution Project, a Washington, D.C., think-tank.. "Military commissions are designed to provide lesser due process protections for terrorism suspects than our federal courts do. Throughout our nation's history, those courts have proven their ability to handle the most difficult and sensitive cases. President Obama should have demonstrated a return to the rule of law by ending the tainted military commission proceedings." Regarding excessive secrecy the article continues, "Despite Obama pledge, Justice defends Bush secrets" at click here stating, "Despite President Obama's vow to open government more than ever, the Justice Department is defending Bush administration decisions to keep secret many documents about domestic wiretapping, data collection on travelers and U.S. citizens, and interrogation of suspected terrorists." The article "Abu Ghraib abuse photos 'show rape'  at click here states "Photographs of alleged prisoner abuse which Barack Obama is attempting to censor include images of apparent rape and sexual abuse, it has emerged."

Where does he get off suppressing this evidence if he pledged to have an open government? The article notes how his views have changed as it states "In April, Mr Obama's administration said the photographs would be released and it would be "pointless to appeal" against a court judgment in favour of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). But after lobbying from senior military figures, Mr Obama changed his mind saying they could put the safety of troops at risk. Earlier this month, he said: "The most direct consequence of releasing them, I believe, would be to inflame anti-American public opinion and to put our troops in greater danger." Do liberals have reason to be upset with Obama? The article "Obama owes Bush an apology" at click here states "Critics in his own party and Republican opponents are attacking Barack Obama's emerging stance on national security with equal ferocity. Many Democrats are furious that the president has broken his promise to abandon the Bush administration's war-powers approach to fighting terrorism. Dick Cheney, the former vice-president, and other conservatives attack him for doing the opposite--for keeping his promise and emasculating the US anti-terror effort." Is Obama right? The article concludes "Mr Obama is in the right, in my view, but he owes his supporters an apology for misleading them. He also owes George W. Bush an apology for saying that the last administration's thinking was an affront to US values, whereas his own policies would be entirely consonant with them. In office he has found that the issue is more complicated. If he was surprised, he should not have been."

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Winston Smith is an ex-Social Worker. I worked in child welfare, and in medical settings and in homeless settings. In the later our facility was geared as a permanent address for people to apply for welfare. Once they received that we could send (more...)
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