OBAMA RENEGES ON A BIG ONE

Amazing! If George W had done this, I would have blasted him.

Amazing! If George W had done this, I would have blasted him.

Wait – George W did do this, and I did blast him!

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The “this” is a recent move by President Barack Obama’s justice department to usurp the judicial branch’s Constitutional authority to hear a legal case. Obama’s lawyers have told the Court of Appeals that it may not proceed with a case brought by five victims of Bush’s immoral and illegal program of “extraordinary rendition” – a program that sent war prisoners abroad to be tortured.

In a bid to halt the court proceeding, the Obama presidency has invoked an autocratic doctrine known as “state secrets,” arguing that the very subject matter of this case is a government secret of such importance that it cannot bear discussion in a courtroom. This is the same hokey legalistic effort that the Bushites had used to dodge public accountability for their illegal torture program.

Obama’s use of the state secrets gimmick to continue covering up Bush’s illegalities is ridiculous, because the “secrets” being hidden are hardly secret. From books to TV exposés, the world knows about them. As the ACLU lawyer for the victims noted, “The only place in the world where these claims can’t be discussed is in this courtroom.”

Obama’s stand is also a direct betrayal of voters who cheered last year when he frequently and vehemently denounced Bush’s use of torture, extraordinary rendition, and – yes – state secrets. Yet, after only one month in office, and in a single case, he has reneged on all three of those principled stands.

What we’ve learned here is not that Obama is suddenly without principle, but that we have to be vigorous in demanding that he hold true to his principles. One group we can trust to help us do this is the ACLU. Contact it at : www.aclu.org.

“Obama Backs Off A Reversal On Secrets,” The New York Times, February 10, 2009.

“Continuity of the Wrong Kind,” The New York Times, February 11, 2009.

“Obama’s Legal Team Copies Bush’s ‘State Secrets’ Trick to Cover Up Torture and Renditions,” www.alternet.org, February 10, 2009.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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