Sacred Disorder | Cliff Bostock's blog – 'Finally, I came to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind' (Rimbaud)

Obama: a major betrayal

I’ve tried to remain neutral about Barack Obama despite some actions that have angered me. First, there was his voting in favor of FISA, the bill that immunized telecom companies against prosecution for eavesdropping on Americans. This was during his election campaign, while he was still a senator, and was in direct contradiction to what he had said he was going to do.

Then there was the ugly business of inviting homophobic pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration. He tried to quell the backlash by inviting an openly gay Episcopal bishop, Gene Robinson, to say a prayer before the inaugural concert. Robinson did indeed deliver that invocation but it turned out that Obama’s people had scheduled him 10 minutes before any TV cameras would be turned on.

I don’t like the absurd way Obama “compromised” with Republicans on the latest bail-out bill, only for them to turn around and vote unanimously against it. But today’s news is the worst yet. Obama has now made it clear that he will, after all, continue the Bush administration’s hideous code of secrecy despite having repeatedly promised to scrap it. The secrecy argument is what the Bush Department of Justice used to keep details of our use of torture out of judicial review and full public view. The argument was — and still is — that allowing certain cases to come to trial would disclose “secrets” that would put the US at risk. (In the pre-Bush past, certain evidence was withheld but trials were not dismissed.)

You can read the New York Times’ summary of the details, but be sure you read Glenn Greenwald’s (very angry) commentary too.

Of course, as Greenwald argues, there’s not at this point really a damn thing secret about what happened in the particular case that prompted this unwelcome decision. (Indeed, even judges reviewing the case seemed shocked to learn that Obama’s DOJ would continue the preceding one’s argument.)

What Obama is really keeping secret, no doubt, is the complicity with which the entire political class, including leading Democrats, participated in the Bush administration’s criminal practices. The media, too, was part of this and it’s no surprise to see that the story of this major reversal of a principal campaign promise was buried on page 12 of the Times.

This is a huge betrayal, since it preserves a policy that is antithetical to the liberties guaranteed by the Constitution. Even Obama’s website promised to discontinue this policy.

EDIT: Glenn Greenwald has more to say.

Write a Comment

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.