The Ongoing War On Transparency

A much more critical issue here is whether the President should have the power to conceal evidence about the Government’s actions on the ground that what the Government did was so bad, so wrong, so inflammatory, so lawless, that to allow disclosure and transparency would reflect poorly on our country, thereby increase anti-American sentiment, and thus jeopardize The Troops.  Once you accept that rationale — the more extreme the Government’s abuses are, the more compelling is the need for suppression — then open government, one of the central planks of the Obama campaign and the linchpin of a healthy democracy, becomes an illusion.

Glenn Greenwald |

Peddle The Poison Of Permanent War

The brutal reality of expanding foreign occupation and harsher and harsher forms of control are the tinder of Islamic fundamentalism, insurgences and terrorism. We can blame the violence on a clash of civilizations. We can naively tell ourselves we are envied for our freedoms. We can point to the Koran. But these are fantasies that divert us from facing the central dispute between us and the Muslim world, from facing our own responsibility for the virus of chaos and violence spreading throughout the Middle East. We can have peace when we shut down our bases, stay the hand of the Israelis to create a Palestinian state, and go home, or we can have long, costly and ultimately futile regional war. We cannot have both.

Obama, whose embrace of American imperialism is as naive and destructive as that of George W. Bush, is the newest brand used to peddle the poison of permanent war. We may not see it. But those who bury the dead do.

Chris Hedges |

Anti-Abortion Terrorism

Too often, I’ve heard about how the murder is not part of the “mainstream” anti-choice movement. Perhaps not. But vandalism certainly is. Harassment certainly is. Trespassing certainly is. The idea that you can employ little crimes but distance yourselves from the big ones is transparently disingenuous.

Once the guy with the guns decides that gluing the doors of a clinic shut, or stalking a doctor’s children, or jumping ugly with traumatized patients, or mailing phony anthrax isn’t working, what is he likely to do? Start a blog? Go back to writing impassioned letters to the editor? Not hardly.

This isn’t the time for a prayer that cooler heads will prevail on “both sides.” This is time for the country and its leaders to tell one side of the debate to knock it the hell off. Start turning in the vandals and thugs in your midst. Acquaint yourself with your friendly local FBI agent if somebody shows up at your meeting with a rosary in one hand and a Glock out in the car.

Surely, a president who has proposed the astonishing concept of preventive detention for people who might one day abet and commit terrorist acts can muster up a more vigorous condemnation of people who are actually doing it.

Charles Pierce | Altercation

Another Club Gitmo guest kills himself

Putting people in cages for life with no charges — thousands of miles from their homes — is inherently torturous.  While Salih acknowledged fighting for the Taliban against the Northern Alliance, there is no evidence that he ever engaged in or planned to engage in terrorist acts or acts of violence of any kind against the U.S.  Apparently, though, hes one of the Worst of the Worst we keep hearing about – Too Dangerous To Release even if we cant charge him with any crime.

Along those lines, Sen. Russ Feingold will hold a hearing a week from today, at 10:00 a.m., on Obamas proposal for indefinite “preventive detention,” entitled “The Legal, Moral, and National Security Consequences of ‘Prolonged Detention” Feingolds letter excoriating Obamas proposal is here.  Other Democrats, such as Rep. Jerry Nadler, have already announced they will oppose Obamas detention policy.  Closing Guantanamo obviously does nothing to solve these problems if the same system of indefinite detention without charges is simply transported to a new location.  As todays NYT article put it:  “detainees lawyers, including those representing other Yemeni detainees, have been saying that many prisoners are desperate and that many are suicidal because they see no end to their detention.”  Its the system of indefinite detention with no trials, not the locale of the cage, that is so oppressive and destructive.

Glenn Greenwald |

Most Arabs Know This Speech Will Make Little Difference

[W]hat the Arab world wants to hear – not their leaders, of course, all of whom would like to have a spanking new US air base on their property – is that Obama will take all his soldiers out of Muslim lands and leave them alone American aid, doctors, teachers, etc, excepted. But for obvious reasons, Obama cant say that.

He can, and will, surely, try his global-Arab line; that every Arab nation will be involved in the new Middle East peace, a resurrection of the remarkably sane Saudi offer of full Arab recognition of Israel in return for an Israeli return to the 1967 borders in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 242. Obama will be clearing this with King Abdullah on Wednesday, no doubt. And everyone will nod sagely and the newspapers of the Arab dictatorships will solemnly tip their hats to the guy and the New York Times will clap vigorously.

And the Israeli government will treat it all with the same amused contempt as Netanyahu treated Obamas demand to stop building Jewish colonies on Arab land and, back home in Washington, Congress will fulminate and maybe Obama will realise, just like the Arab potentates have realised, that beautiful rhetoric and paradise-promises never, ever, win against reality.

Robert Fisk |

Obama Administration Deals Series of Anti-Environmental Blows

Down in Appalachia, things are not much better, where the coal-extraction industry was recently given the green light to proceed with 42 of its 48 pending mountaintop-removal permits. While Obama speaks out about the negative impact of the aptly named process, where mountains are blown apart to expose thin lines of coal, he is not willing to take on an industry that continually pollutes rivers and threatens public health.

“If you still have an Obama sticker on your car, maybe think about scraping it off and sending it to the White House with your objections,” says Mike Roselle of Climate Ground Zero, who is working hard to stop mountaintop removal in West Virginia and elsewhere. “Blowing mountains to pieces is a crime.”

Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank | Alternet

In the shadow of Cheney

A few fanatical jihadis hiding in caves cannot fatally damage the United States: Only the United States can fatally damage the United States. Under the fearful reign of Bush and Cheney, America went a long way toward becoming a country its own citizens would not recognize. As his May 21 speech showed, Obama clearly realizes that many of the policies pursued by his predecessors are irrational, inhumane, unjust and self-defeating. But he has not repudiated their fundamental error, their misapprehension of the actual threat posed by Islamist terrorists.

Which is why Obamas left hand has consistently undone what his right hand has done. He is by nature a difference-splitter, a position that has its virtues. But some differences cannot be split. Either we are locked in an endless, self-defeating war on terror or we are not. Either our laws, traditions and freedoms are more important than an infantile dream of perfect, eternal safety, or they are not. Either we are clear-sighted enough to realize that different kinds of enemies require different responses and that treating a handful of jihadis as if they were the second coming of Nazi Germany is foolish, or we are not. Either we live in the land of the free or we do not.

Gary Kamiya | Salon

Blue Double Cross

That didn’t take long. Less than two weeks have passed since much of the medical-industrial complex made a big show of working with President Obama on health care reform — and the double-crossing is already well under way. Indeed, it’s now clear that even as they met with the president, pretending to be cooperative, insurers were gearing up to play the same destructive role they did the last time health reform was on the agenda.

So here’s the question: Will Mr. Obama gloss over the reality of what’s happening, and try to preserve the appearance of cooperation? Or will he honor his own pledge, made back during the campaign, to go on the offensive against special interests if they stand in the way of reform?

Paul Krugman |

Same Old Whine

I know it’s a mess, but the fact is that this isn’t really that difficult, except in the usual beltway kabuki political sense. There are literally tens of thousands of potential terrorists all over the world who could theoretically harm America. We cannot protect ourselves from that possibility by keeping the handful we have in custody locked up forever, whether in Guantanamo or some Super Max prison in the US. It’s patently absurd to obsess over these guys like it makes us even the slightest bit safer to have them under indefinite lock and key so they “can’t kill Americans.”

The mere fact that we are doing this makes us less safe because the complete lack of faith we show in our constitution and our justice systems is what fuels the idea that this country is weak and easily terrified. There is no such thing as a terrorist suspect who is too dangerous to be set free. They are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. There is not some finite number of terrorists we can kill or capture and then the “war” will be over and the babies will always be safe. This whole concept is nonsensical.

The real terrorists, I’m afraid, are the self-serving hawks who promise to explode a political dirty bomb in the halls of the capitol every time someone tries to be sensible about American foreign policy and national security. They are still running things. They have always run things. And the sorry fact is that their dominance is a decades long model of bipartisan comity.

digby | Hullabaloo

War-Think President

Chris Matthews yesterday said that “we [are] gonna have to face the fact that these guys are terrorists, they’re going to have to be somewhere, it might as well be Gitmo,” and then suggested that we just execute them to get rid of the problem (he wanted to know “why are we being so dainty about it” — meaning worrying about whether we first prove their guilt before killing them).  That was after Saxby Chambliss told Matthews:  “We know that the ones left at Guantanamo are the meanest, nastiest killers in the world.  They get up everyday thinking about ways to harm Americans.”  No need for a trial — we should just take their word for it.

This is what being a “nation at war” and viewing the President as a “War President” — first and foremost the “Commander-in-Chief” — does to a country.  Fear predominates everything.  No government power needs to be limited.  Blind faith is placed in presidential judgments, the assessments of the War President go unquestioned.  Being in the military means following orders, so when all citizens start viewing the President in military terms — he’s “our” Commander-in-Chief — that mentality of obedience is the natural by-product.

Most of the people at Guantanamo have now been kept in cages for seven years by the U.S. without any charges or trials of any kind — based solely on the President’s say-so — and very few people seem particularly bothered by that.  It’s not really hard to understand why political establishments prefer this state of affairs to be permanent, and why Presidents are so eager to claim the mantle of “War President.”  What political leaders wouldn’t be eager to receive the blind faith and virtually unlimited powers that the title entails?

Glenn Greenwald |