Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Did Washington D.C. eat Barack Obama's soul?

Circumstances have conspired to keep me from returning to regular blogging, which has prevented me from covering the continuing habit of President Obama to do things that Senator and candidate Obama was previously opposed to. Hopefully, anyone reading this blog is already following Glenn Greenwald's blog, as he has been covering this topic already.

But if you have not been following along, this article - via Greenwald's twitter feed - perfectly epitomizes the pattern of betrayal that has become the Obama presidency.

In Barack Obama's rise to national prominence, when he criticized the Bush Administration for its false claims about WMDs in Iraq, its torture of detainees, and its illegal program of spying on American citizens without warrants, he owed a particular debt of gratitude to a New York Times national security reporter. In a series of scoops as impressive as any amassed during the War on Terrorism, James Risen reported in 2004 that the CIA failed to tell President Bush about relatives of Iraqi scientists who swore that the country had abandoned its weapons program; the same year, he was first to reveal that the CIA was waterboarding detainees in Iraq; and in 2005, he broke the Pulitzer Prize winning story about the secret NSA spying program.

These scoops so embarrassed and angered the Bush Administration that some of its senior members wanted Risen to end up in jail. They never managed to make that happen. But President Obama might. He once found obvious value in Risen's investigative journalism. Its work that would've been impossible to produce without confidential sources and an ability to credibly promise that he'd never reveal their identities. But no matter. The Obama Administration is now demanding that Risen reveal his source for a 2006 scoop about CIA missteps in Iran. If he refuses to cooperate, which is his plan, he faces the possibility of jail time.
This is the sort of thing that makes me hope that Mr. Obama becomes a one term president. Yes, the Republican presidential candidates are worse; but if we continue to elect persons who feel at liberty to break campaign vows, to grant immunity to criminals while persecuting the journalists who exposed the malfeasance, how can we expect so see any different result?

[President Obama] might not be in the White House today if the Bush Administration would've succeeded in keeping all its secrets: the torture, the detainee deaths, the abuses at Abu Ghraib, the spying on Americans, the faulty pre-war intelligence in Iraq, and all the rest. One would expect Obama of all people to see the value in Risen's reporting - the real ways in which he has helped to preserve civil liberties, American freedom, and accountability in government - and to weigh that against the national security implications of reporting in 2006 on a bungled CIA effort that happened way back in the year 2000.

Instead, a president who once championed whistle-blowers has adopted Cheney's view, and as Glenn Greenwald puts it, "the Obama administration appears on the verge of fulfilling Dick Cheney's nefarious wish beyond what even Cheney could achieve." All this while failing to prosecute the much more serious Bush era illegal acts that Risen has uncovered in his reporting.
The sad reality is that the institution of the presidency is now set in such a manner that it seems to guarantee that we will have presidents who behave as presidents should not behave.

1 comment:

malcontent said...

I am in total agreement that we need a republican president to take office before the American public will enough of a whiff of their intent to finally understand just how foul their policies are.

Give up republican-lite and get the real thing. See how y'all like that when the synergy kicks in.