- I've lost count of how many times Barack Obama has claimed
he was going to change the way Washington does business, how he was going
to cut off the role of the big corporate lobbyists, stop government use
of secrecy to cover for illegal actions, make government more accountable
and transparent, stop corruption, and end cronyism. The record indicates
that all these are part of the Big Lie--a concerted effort to deceive his
own followers and the nation. Only the establishment media is silent about
this growing dichotomy. None of the White House press corps dares question
him in public about his backtracking. The Republican opposition (who backed
these same evil practices when they were in power) has taken notice, but
not as much as principled liberals who feel betrayed by his promises of
change. This week I'll start off by reviewing the magnitude of the hypocrisy
and deception. It's an impressive listing.
- The addition of new regulations that only pretend to
solve the financial corruption between government and Wall Street and the
draconian new Health Care reform packages are bad enough, but it is the
continuance of government secrecy, spying, indefinite detention without
charge, and cronyism that is the greatest danger to our liberties. Perhaps
no one has documented this more than Glen Greenwald, writing for Salon.com.
- "'My Administration is committed to creating an
unprecedented level of openness in Government' -- Barack Obama, January
28, 2009. Promising 'a new era of openness in our country,' President Obama
[said]: 'Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this
presidency' -- CNN, January 21, 2009. "A democracy requires accountability,
and accountability requires transparency... All agencies should adopt a
presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment
to the principles embodied in Freedom of Information Act [FOIA], and to
usher in a new era of open Government' -- Barack Obama, January 21, 2009.
Greenwald demands to know, "Has Obama fulfilled those pledges and
lived up to those commitments -- even remotely? Just examine the facts
and judge for yourself.
- "February 9, New York Times: 'In a closely watched
case involving rendition and torture [Mohamed v. Jeppesen Data], 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.'
- "February 21, Huffington Post: 'The Obama administration,
siding with former President George W. Bush, is trying to kill a lawsuit
that seeks to recover what could be millions of missing White House e-mails.'
- "February 27, AP: 'The Obama administration has
lost its argument that a potential threat to national security should stop
a lawsuit challenging the government's warrantless wiretapping program.
. . . The Obama administration, like the Bush administration before it,
claimed national security would be compromised if a lawsuit brought by
the Oregon chapter of the charity, Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, was
allowed to proceed.'
- "April 7, The Atlantic: 'The Obama Administration
still wants to keep its secrets. Yesterday, the Justice Department [in
a case brought against Bush officials for illegal spying] embraced the
argument that the state secrets privilege . . . should shut down any litigation
against the National Security Agency for its arguably illegal warrantless
surveillance program. '
- "April 28, NY Times: A federal appeals court ruled
Tuesday that a lawsuit brought by five men who say they were tortured as
part of the Central Intelligence Agency's 'extraordinary rendition' program
could proceed, dealing a blow to efforts by both the Bush and Obama administrations
to claim sweeping executive secrecy powers. '
- "May 12, Washington Times: 'The Obama administration
says it may curtail Anglo-American intelligence sharing if the British
High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a former Guantanamo
detainee. . . . In February, the British Foreign Office claimed that the
U.S. government had threatened to reduce intelligence cooperation if details
of the interrogations and treatment of Mr. Mohamed were disclosed. '
- "May 14, Washington Post: 'President Obama yesterday
chose secrecy over disclosure, saying he will seek to block the court-ordered
release of photographs depicting the abuse of detainees [including rape]
held by U.S. authorities abroad. '
- "May 22, San Francisco Chronicle: 'A federal judge
on Friday threatened to severely sanction the Obama Administration for
withholding a top secret document he ordered given to lawyers suing the
government over its warrantless wiretapping program. . . . The National
Security Agency has also refused the judge's previous orders to provide
security clearances to two of the charity's lawyers so they can view the
top secret document. '
- "June 1, Washington Post Editorial page: 'The [Graham-Lieberman]
measure, supported by the White House and passed May 21 as an attachment
to a Senate funding bill, would put beyond the reach of FOIA any photographs
taken between Sept. 11, 2001, and Jan. 22, 2009 . . . [W]hat makes the
administration's support for the photographic records act so regrettable
[is that in] taking a step aimed at protecting the country's service members
[who acted criminally], Mr. Obama runs the risk of taking two steps back
in his quest for more open government.
- "June 9, Washington Post: 'The Obama administration
objected yesterday to the release of certain Bush-era documents that detail
the videotaped interrogations of CIA detainees at secret prisons, arguing
to a federal judge that doing so would endanger national security and benefit
al-Qaeda's recruitment efforts. In an affidavit, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta
defended the classification of records describing the contents of the 92
videotapes, their destruction by the CIA in 2005 and what he called 'sensitive
operational information' about the interrogations. '
- "June 12, AP: 'The Obama administration has decided
to keep secret the locations of nearly four dozen coal ash storage sites
that pose a threat to people living nearby. The Environmental Protection
Agency classified the 44 sites as potential hazards to communities while
investigating storage of coal ash waste after a spill at a Tennessee power
plant in December. '
- "June 16, McClatchy: 'Defense Department officials
are debating whether to ignore an earlier promise and squelch the release
of an investigation into a U.S. airstrike last month, out of fear that
its findings would further enrage the Afghan public, Pentagon officials
told McClatchy Monday. '
- "June 16, ABC News: 'After being briefed today on
President Obama's firing last week of Gerald Walpin, Inspector General
of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Sen. Claire McCaskill,
D-Mo., said the president did not abide by the same law that he co-sponsored
-- and she wrote -- about firing Inspectors General. . . . 'The legislation
which was passed last year requires that the president give a reason for
the removal,' McCaskill, a key Obama ally, said that the president's stated
reason for the termination, 'Loss of confidence' is not a sufficient reason.
- "June 17, Washington Post: "President Obama
has embraced Bush administration justifications for denying public access
to White House visitor logs even as advisers say they are reviewing the
policy of keeping secret the official record of comings and goings.
- "Finally, it's worth emphasizing that the above
excerpts pertain only to transparency issues. None of this has anything
to do with what The New York Times in May -- referring to Obama's Bush-replicating
policies on detention, rendition, denial of habeas rights, military commission
and the like -- described as 'how he has backtracked, in substantial if
often nuanced ways, from the approach to national security that he preached
as a candidate, and even from his first days in the Oval Office.' No matter
how you look at it, this is quite a record."
- (End Excerpt)
- World Affairs Brief - Commentary and Insights on
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- Copyright Joel Skousen. Partial quotations with attribution
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