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George W. Bush’s Cover-Up Is Now Obama’s Cover-Up

by on Tuesday, October 27, 2009 at 5:18 pm EDT in Iraq, Politics, World

The New York Times Editorial blasted President Obama yesterday for breaking his campaign promise to end George W. Bush’s “abuses of power, denials of justice to the victims of wayward government policies, and the shielding of officials from accountability.”

The Times outlines how Obama has aggressively — from the get-go — taken George W’s torch and run with it, never looking back at his thoughtful campaign promises.  Take for instance, Binyam Mohamed, an innocent British national, who was wrongly taken into custody and transported against his will — under the US extraordinary rendition program — to secret prisons in multiple middle eastern countries, and eventually to Guantánamo Bay.  He’d been repeatedly tortured, and held without trial for seven years.  Once released, he sued to recover for his damages due to the illegal rendition and torture.  The U.S. Government quickly intervened into British Judicial Proceedings to keep torture evidence from being released, and the New York Times recounts the court’s recent ruling on the matter:

In Britain earlier this month, a two-judge High Court panel rejected arguments made first by the Bush team and now by the Obama team and decided to make public seven redacted paragraphs in American intelligence documents relating to torture allegations by a former prisoner at Guantánamo Bay. The prisoner, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian-born British national, says he was tortured in Pakistan, Morocco and at a C.I.A.-run prison outside Kabul before being transferred to Guantánamo. He was freed in February.

To block the release of those paragraphs, the Bush administration threatened to cut its intelligence-sharing with Britain, an inappropriate threat that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton repeated. But the court concluded that the actual risk of harm to intelligence-sharing was minimal, given the close relationship between the two countries. The court also found a “compelling public interest” in disclosure, and said that nothing in the disputed seven paragraphs — a summary of evidence relating to the involvement of the British security services in Mr. Mohamed’s ordeal — had anything to do with “secret intelligence.”

So, according to these two justices — who’ve seen the evidence — the U.S. attempt to block its release has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with “secret intelligence”.  Just as the Bush Administration did before him, Obama is damaging U.S. standing in the world by falsely asserting the ‘national security’ claim in an obvious attempt to shield former U.S. officials from being charged with possible war crimes.

And it’s not just an isolated case in Great Britain, President Obama is doing the exact same thing here in this country:

In the United States, the Obama administration is in the process of appealing a sound federal appellate court ruling last April in a civil lawsuit by Mr. Mohamed and four others. All were victims of the government’s extraordinary rendition program, under which foreigners were kidnapped and flown to other countries for interrogation and torture.

In that case, the Obama administration has repeated a disreputable Bush-era argument that the executive branch is entitled to have lawsuits shut down whenever it makes a blanket claim of national security. The ruling rejected that argument and noted that the government’s theory would “effectively cordon off all secret actions from judicial scrutiny, immunizing the C.I.A. and its partners from the demands and limits of the law.”

When Bush pulled this crap it was expected.  The Bush Administration felt themselves to be — and they still do — above the rule of law.  They lied us into an unnecessary war, they tortured suspects — and boastfully gloated about it, they outed a CIA operative whose spouse whistle-blew on their lies to sell the Iraq war to the American public.  It was clear who these neo-cons were and what they were capable of.

But for President Obama — a Constitutional Lawyer who understands these issues better than anyone — to continue down this path?  ‘Candidate’ Obama so eloquently and passionately explained the importance of ending these policies, and yet from day one, he has done the exact opposite.

As his Presidency unfolds, I can’t help but to feel like we’ve all been duped — that perhaps ‘candidate’ Obama was a complete sham.  We now know, for instance, that all along he was quietly trying to undermine the public option (by pushing for a trigger) behind closed doors.  Each month of his candidacy he continues to expose himself as someone who either has no core principles, or no fortitude to champion a single one of them.