Salon’s Glenn Greenwald has spent the duration of Obama’s presidency asking a fundamental question of the left: Why are George W. Bush’s transgressions, which elicited fury from Democrats and liberals, acceptable when President Obama adopts – and embraces – them? In a recent post, Glenn decries the intellectual dishonesty he sees reflected in a Washington Post poll:
During the Bush years, Guantanamo was the core symbol of right-wing radicalism and what was back then referred to as the “assault on American values and the shredding of our Constitution”: so much so then when Barack Obama ran for President, he featured these issues not as a secondary but as a central plank in his campaign. But now that there is a Democrat in office presiding over Guantanamo and these other polices — rather than a big, bad, scary Republican — all of that has changed, as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll demonstrates.
A blistering excerpt from the New York Times:
[The Obama administration's] counterterrorism programs have in some ways departed from the expectations of change fostered by President Obama’s campaign rhetoric, which was often sharply critical of former President George W. Bush’s approach.
Among other policies, the Obama national security team has also authorized the C.I.A. to try to kill a United States citizen suspected of terrorism ties, blocked efforts by detainees in Afghanistan to bring habeas corpus lawsuits challenging the basis for their imprisonment without trial, and continued the C.I.A.’s so-called extraordinary rendition program of prisoner transfers — though the administration has forbidden torture and says it seeks assurances from other countries that detainees will not be mistreated.
More from Adam Serwer:
The government can enlist the aid of a private company in sending you to a third country to be tortured because of suspicions that you are connected to terrorism, and you have no recourse if the government decides that the logistical details of the above process are a state secret. You can’t sue the government, you can’t sue the private company that was involved, and frankly you can probably count on the people who helped facilitated it getting good jobs elsewhere in the same field.
And Marcy Wheeler:
So basically, the government can kidnap you and send you to be tortured–as they did with Binyam Mohamed–yet even if your contractors acknowledge what they were doing, if the government wants to call their own law-breaking a secret, the most liberal Circuit Court in the country agrees they can.
And Jeralyn Merritt:
Sixteen months ago, a three judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s order dismissing the ACLU’s lawsuit in Mohamed et al. v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. The ACLU sued the Boeing subsidiary in May, 2007 for its role in the Bush administration’s unlawful extraordinary rendition program. Once Bush was gone, Obama stepped in and maintained the Bush position. … Today the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, changed course and dismissed the lawsuit, based on the state secrets claim. In other words, the court denied the detainees, victims of the extraordinary rendition program, their day in court.
Glenn Greenwald adds political context:
Just to give a sense for how far we’ve traveled, how low we’ve fallen, here’s what The New York Times‘ John Schwartz reported in February, 2009, when the Obama DOJ first told the 9th Circuit that they were going to assert the same “state secrets” arguments in this case which the Bush DOJ made: ”In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.”
Schwartz described how the judges on the appellate panel were so startled that they actually asked multiple times if the Obama DOJ was really sticking with the Bush position, as though they couldn’t believe what they were hearing. What a quaint time that was, when people were surprised by Obama’s replicating Bush’s secrecy and Terrorism positions — the very ones he so vehemently condemned when running for President. After 18 months of seeing this over and over in multiple realms, nobody would react that way now.
When this is done in our name, it leaves an indelible stain.
We spent eight tortuous years in the wilderness under Bush to get to this point?