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Saturday, April 11, 2009

You've Been Punked By Obama -- The Detainee Episode

At a moment in time, David Brooks wrote that "Barack Obama is not who we thought he was" based on Obama's über-liberal economic policies. It lasted about a day, and several phones calls from the White House, before Brooks backtracked and turned his column into a press release refuting his own prior post.

Others, including the normally cheerleading AP noted Obama's backtracking on whether the economy was "fundamentally sound" (after having savaged John McCain for saying what Obama now says). And of course, there was the controversy over Obama's reversal of the campaign promise to send troops into Pakistan without Pakistani consent.

Now comes "The Detainee Episode." No, not Brooks again. He learned his lesson. Liberal bloggers and columnists who are wringing their hands dry over Obama's continuation of George Bush's policies with regard to enemy combatants (now "detainee who lent substantial support to al-Qaeda") and other aspects of the war on terror (now "overseas contingency operation") such as electronic eavesdropping. Such as these:
  • Glenn Greenwald: "So that Barack Obama -- the one trying to convince Democrats to make him their nominee and then their President -- said that abducting people and imprisoning them without charges was (a) un-American; (b) tyrannical; (c) unnecessary to fight Terrorism; (d) a potent means for stoking anti-Americanism and fueling Terrorism; (e) a means of endangering captured American troops, Americans traveling abroad and Americans generally; and (f) a violent betrayal of core, centuries-old Western principles of justice. But today's Barack Obama, safely ensconced in the White House, fights tooth and nail to preserve his power to do exactly that."
  • John Cole of Balloon Juice in his "The Daily 'How Barack Obama is Failing Us' Post" citing Greenwald: "It isn’t the least bit surprising that this is happening, but it really is irritating."
  • Harvard Law Professor Noah Feldman writing in the NY Times: "The administration lawyers suggest in their brief that “substantial support” of terrorists could be defined by some unspecified analogy to the laws of detention in traditional armed conflict. Yet the details are left to the imagination; and when push comes to shove, this language might well include all the Guantánamo detainees, including those who never belonged to a terrorist group."
  • The Rhetorican: "[T]o put it in terms a Kos Kid can understand: it sure is creepy how it seems that the much-feared Dick Cheney/Karl Rove shadow government remains in power with Obama as their new puppet, doesn’t it?"
  • Daphne Eviatar in The Washington Independent: "Obama promised a return to respect for the rule of law, not just in word but in deed. As long as potentially innocent men remain imprisoned without charge or trial — and in the case of Bagram, without the right to challenge their detention or even speak to a lawyer — then the new administration will not have followed through on its promises."
  • Dan Froomkin in The Washington Post: "People who put a lot of faith in President Obama's pledges of restoring transparency to the government are having a hard time rationalizing his Justice Department's actions on the three cases in question."
  • Marie Cocco, syndicated columnist: "This was a fundamental breach of justice and morality when the Bush administration did it. It is precisely the same breach -- made worse by the stench of hypocrisy -- when the Obama administration does it."
  • On the issue of immunity from prosecution for intentional violation of wiretap laws, blogger Our Rants & Raves writes:"This is serious people. In the same way we fought to get President Obama elected, we need to fight against his Administration when it's wrong. Please join me to express your disappointment and work to change his position. I love so much of what the President is doing, but not on this issue. Of course, if anybody can help me understand why he may be choosing this path, please enlighten me. I'm at a loss."
  • On the issue of wiretapping, Jake Tapper of ABC: "This of course is just the latest in Mr. Obama's evolution on the matter. When the question came up last Summer as to whether then-Sen. Obama would support a filibuster of a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act bill if it allowed telecommunications firms immunity for cooperating with the NSA program, Sen. Obama's flip on the matter was worthy of an Olympic gold medal."
  • New York Times columnists who savaged George Bush over his detainee policies: Nothing. They don't want any more phone calls from the White House.

(h/t Instapundit for some of these links)

So Barack Obama is just another politician who said one thing to get elected, then preserved his power once in office. When it comes to detaining bad guys without access to court, he said he would close Gitmo, he didn't say he would close Baghram. His words were just words, and you weren't listening carefully enough.

You thought he said "no detainees without court review" but he really said "no 'enemy combatant' detainees without court review," and now there are none (there are "substantial supporter-detainees," but Obama never promised to let THEM go to court).

You've been punked again.

Related Post: Liberal Doughboys Afraid of Tea Parties

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  1. Psssst, Gitmo still open too. Not that anybody is keeping count....

  2. Mr.Jacobson,
    With all due respect, the left did'nt get punked. To be punked, the left first needs to actually believe in all those things that they so loudly proclaimed from their moral high horses. But it was NEVER about principles, for most lefties.

    It was always about partisanship - they hated George W Bush right from the time the Florida recount decision went against them. The post 9/11 scenario only got worse because of this already existing sense of hatred and outright paranoia filled partisanship.

    Now, Bush is gone and the seething hatred for having "eviscerated" the "moral leadership" of the country has also gone. It has been replaced with "disappointment".

    Notice how Juan Cole is merely irritated by the failings of Barack Obama - but.. but.. are'nt these failings "tarnishing" the moral "standing" of the country and make the Europeans look at the US in even more contempt ?

    Of course not ! Such things happen only when the name of the President is George W Bush.

    Obama threw them bones by signing an executive order to close Gitmo, "banning" "torture" etc... this is then praised by the left, as "change".

    In the end, the lefties got to attack George W Bush for failing us, got Obama elected and of course got to experience "change" !

    What happened to the irreparable damage that Bush caused ? not to worry, Obama has erased all of it by embarking on a celebrity world tour.

    The election victory of Barack Obama is the best thing to have happened to people who are not partisan in their politics - they can see and judge for themselves, how politicians promise the high heavens while running for office and how they truly ACT after getting into it.

    They can also see how their partisan supporters and opponents react to the same decisions made by two different Presidents and how they are being spun.

    Unfortunately there are very few moderate citizens - most people in todays scenario are partisans who will back their "leaders" to the hilt.

  3. But the real question is, why is he doing it?

    Does he really enjoy selling out his supporters?

    Does he really enjoy being able to detail people?

    Has he learned something from being in the White House (and having access to more info than before?

    Or, did he really understand that Bush's detainee program was necessary, and merely said what his supporters wanted to hear?

    Which of these would be the most embarrassing to those who supported him?

  4. From a man who voted 'present' more often than not, one does not expect any real depth of conviction on anything.

    Strange that I always saw Barack Obama as a Chicago Machine Politician willing to do anything to pay off his friends and cronies, had at best very airy ideas about society, for being a constitutional law teacher had a relatively hazy understanding of the document, and who got loads of help from shady guys since the beginning of his career in the 80's. I had abysmally low expectations of someone who had zero executive experience and was used to having political plumbs handed to him, and who had no greater grasp of politics or the country outside his clique of friends. My low expectations have been surpassed in most venues and in only a few have they actually been met. In one or two he has done marginally better, but not enough to matter to me.

    Surprised? No.

    How could I be? I expected nothing better. It does help to be a pessimist as one is rarely unpleasantly surprised... life is always good one the surprises are good ones. It is the optimists that become manic-depressive with hopes going sky high and then dashed with the slightest bit of darkness. Time to get used to the dark and shadows around you... Iron Times are coming.

  5. There's also trouble for Obama from the suicidal dove faction. Hard left Iraq Marine veteran Benjamin Lewis, who is likely to be court marshaled “for his intention to refuse reactivation,” is "against Obama’s Afghanistan" In the article (link below), after the usual peacenik screed, Lewis expresses his disappointment in Obama quite tellingly:

    "If it was not evident before, it should be apparent by now that Obama is not our savior."

    Betrayed so quickly by their Savior, The One Who Was to Usher In American Socialist Utopia? How CAN the hard left go on; whatever will they do now?

    No more glistening pecs, squealing at His Touch, tears of joy, and leg shivers? Say it ain't so!

    Honeymoon is over, undoubtedly.