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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 4/13/09

The Bushite Policies of Obama's Department of Justice: I. Illustrated

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<strong><em>This article is the first of a series of three.  This one provides illustration of the troubling pattern emerging from the Obama Justice Department in its court arguments on behalf of Bushite policies on the formerly-known-as "war on terror."

The next two provide two interpretations of this:  1) the one I began with, and have not yet rejected, that Obama is pursuing a very wrong and deeply objectionable course that we should protest (to appear here tomorrow);  and then, 2) that there may be a clever, and possibly even useful, strategy at work here (to be presented here on Wednesday).

ABS:  The article here below, and the two others referred to at the end, highlight one of the two domains of policy where Obama's choices give me great concern (the other one being the banking crisis), both in terms of where the decisions made by this administration might take us and even more so, in this case, what they may reveal about where Obama is coming from.

What does it mean that Obama's Department of Justice is making an argument that goes EVEN further against the clear intent of the Constitution (4th amendment) than did the Bushite's in their arguments?

I first learned about this argument from COUNTDOWN, where Olbermann --surely a strong supporter of Obama-- did not hide his disappointment.  "Change we cannot believe in," is what Olbermann said.

He talked about it with Howard Fineman.  In explaining this Obama move who, aside from making that argument about which I've expressed distaste before:  presidents are reluctant to give up any powers that their predecessors --however despised-- have claimed and passed down to them.  As I said, I believe that a president with real principles would be content with the considerable powers actually granted him by the Constitution, and would GLADLY renounce powers that upset the constitutional balance or trample on the rule of law.

Then Olbermann spoke about this with Jonathan Turley, his usual constitutional scholar.  Turley said that his observations had led him to believe that Obama was "more interested in programs than in principles."

Politics is about the art of the possible, about getting things done, and I am not averse to the compromises that it entails.  I understand that an effective politician is not going to be absolutely punctilious about principle.

But the kind of principle involved here is not one of those for the disregard of which I can see any justification.  For Obama to go in this direction on this kind of issue seems to me not only morally wrong, but politically a blunder as well.  I have seen a certain kind of "purity" to be one of Obama's main sources of political strength, and I think it a serious mistake to sacrifice that.

If anyone can provide a convincing or even plausible argument to the contrary, I'd be very interested in seeing it.

As for why he did it, the speculation on Olbermann was that the intelligence community feels strongly on this matter --wanting to be spared exposure regarding their actions-- Obama feels some sort of need to appease the intelligence community on such issues.

Wrong compromise, I still think.


<em>More Immunity Claims on Wiretapping from Obama DOJ </em>

by mcjoan
Daily Kos, Apr 07, 2009

In three separate cases in as many months, the Obama Justice Department has used the same arguments that the Bush administration Justice Department used to attempt to stop judicial review of extraordinary rendition and warrantless wiretapping. In the Mohamed v. Jeppesen extraordinary rendition case, the Obama administration reiterated the Bush administration argument that the case should be dismissed to preserve "states secrets." Likewise, in the Al-Haramain wiretapping case, Obama's DOJ used the arguments of the Bush administration to argue, again, that state secrets should prevent the Al-Haramain case--in which the only secret isn't a secret because it was inadvertently shared with plaintiff's attorneys--from moving forward.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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