Thursday, March 12, 2009

What's He Protecting?

That's the question about Obama poised by The Slate this morning. I think it's a fair question. We have an administration that used the specious memos written by John Yoo and staff at the OLC to justify the argument that the President has unilateral authority to ignore the Constitution and the Fourth Amendment if he's doing so in the name of fighting "terror," even domestically, as well as the power to shut down the Freedom of the Press. We have an administration that has used torture as a means of gleaning information, and attempting to justify it.

One of the key moments, and perhaps the great contradiction in positions offered by the administration is summed up in this paragraph from the above-linked article:
Former Bush administration officials do themselves no good when they simultaneously argue that their actions were lawful and necessary—and saved our lives many times over—and that they should also be excused because they were terrified. Stephen Bradbury, then acting head of OLC tells us that the appalling work in the newly declassified memos should be filtered through the prism of temporary insanity: "It is important to understand the context of the [2001] Memorandum," Bradbury wrote, in a memo to the file. "It was the product of an extraordinary—indeed, we hope, a unique—period in the history of the Nation: the immediate aftermath of the attacks of 9/11."
It's important to see just what was authorized and ordered. The most plausible reasons for the reluctance of the Obama administration to make inquiries and release findings on this are: 1. there are too many pressing issues that need to be taken care of. That's true. The previous administration did more grave damage to our country than any administration in the past 120 years. But that doesn't mean he can't take a strong position in favor of transparency, not just in the present but in the past. This works its way directly to the alternative explanation - that President Obama wants to continue with the same shroud of secrecy and privilege that President Bush created. I hope this isn't the case, as this would clearly demonstrate that our country isn't where it was 9 years ago, and in that instance, the Terrorists will have won.

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