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

A benevolent dictator?

My disgust with Barack Obama continues to grow. In the most recent travesty,  Obama’s Department of Justice has literally reiterated the Bush argument that it is not bound to turn over “secret” evidence in a lawsuit challenging the legality of warrantless eavesdropping. (Weirdly, the evidence in this particular case isn’t even secret.) Glenn Greenwald has the unsavory details.

Greenwald also writes about how some progressives are defending Obama’s actions even though they vehemently opposed the same behavior by the Bush administration.

Meanwhile, the New York Times has published a discussion about Sen. Patrick Leahy’s proposal to form a bipartisan “truth commission” to examine whether members of the Bush administration broke the law by authorizing torture.  All but one of the discussion’s five participants favor the commission, noting that the U.S. is bound by its own laws and treaties to conduct an inquiry and recommend prosecution if warranted.

But Obama is resisting that too, claiming that we need to “look forward,” rather than back. As one of the  writers notes, prosecuting violators of the law is most certainly looking forward, since the point is to discourage future transgressions of the law.

Many progressives, while annoyed by Obama’s shocking reversal of his campaign rhetoric about these issues, are producing embarassing rhetoric themselves. They argue that Obama is buying time or otherwise has some rational but private reason for following Bush’s path. They also cite the good things he has done, like forbidding torture by executive order.

What these apologists don’t seem to realize is that if the new administration continues to support policies that give the president and his associates the right to violate the law without punishment, we continue on our route to an imperial presidency. The only difference in Bush and Obama in this regard right now is that Obama appears to be a “benevolent dictator” while Bush was an evil one.

The positive actions that Obama has taken could mean little in a broader context. It’s great that he wrote an executive order forbidding torture, for example, but the order can be reversed and, without involvement of the courts, there is nothing to prohibit use of torture in the future. Everything will depend on the benevolence of His Majesty, the President.

It is sickening that nobody in the Obama administration will answer questions about this turn of events. It’s also revolting that the media are not sounding a very loud alarm about these developments. But that just goes to demonstrate how our stenographic press has enabled the policies that have brought the country to ruin.

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