Reminder

As I wrote about four days after Obama won, when it comes to the Constitution there is no such thing as partly pregnant. The President’s oath of office obligates him to fully respect the Constitution of the United States (or at least make a believable show of doing so, which most Presidents treat as the same thing). Disrespecting that oath represents a fundamental and often criminal failure by the President to carry out his duties.

George Bush left the next administration with a clever Sophie’s Choice in that the only way to stop pissing all over the U.S. Constitution is to upset the mother of all apple carts. Necessary steps would include, at a minimum, releasing the prisoners whom we can’t prosecute because we tortured them and then prosecuting the torturers.

Obama doesn’t like upsetting apple carts. He was (by far) the best option that Spaghetti Monster offered to American voters that year, but nonetheless we had every reason to think that we would wait a long time before he brought down the flaming sword of Justice on Bush-era criminals. One could hope that Obama would let facts leak out until public pressure ‘forces’ him to do the right thing but nope, Obama seems pretty determined to keep the truth from leaking out as well.

The simple fact is that Obama doesn’t have a multifaceted decision to make. Doing the right thing (one could call that ‘respecting his oath of office’) will bring on a political shitstorm as every Republican down to the student government level declares that the government has gone commiefascist and starts digging bunkers in their back yard. If Obama doesn’t want that fight then he has to keep innocent people in cages and tell the courts and the international community to go f*ck themselves.

172 replies
  1. 1
    pharniel says:

    maybe it’s time that we tell the repugs to go fuck themselves and when they act out in violent tantrums to allow the authoritarian creations of theirs to act on them.

    but that’s just me pipe dreaming.

    also, the goth chick is a vast improvement over that skin thing we used to get.

  2. 2

    Well put.

    Not an apple cart upsetter. Obviously enjoying his great gig, ahem. Best face the establishment has.

    Sigh.

  3. 3
    gex says:

    I’ve heard there are more important issues for Americans.

  4. 4

    I would give Obama a 70% right now. I’m sure I’m being hard but I had high hopes for the guy and he:

    *has not repealed DADT because he wants an act of congress
    *has added more troops to afghanistan
    *continues killing people in pakistan (it’s not right even if it hits osama while he’s taking a dump)
    *his DOJ is arguing all sorts of fucked points, partly because (I justify) they were in a horrible position to do what was right in jan 2009 without investigating 30% of the government in the process
    *has let the banks take great advantage of him (and us)
    *has been transparent like my butt in blue jeans

    These things upset me, and I am a HUGE Obama supporter. I think the guy can do some amazing things and the world is a better place with him as president but Obama, himself, with own hands, could right about 20% of the wrongs in the world, a bunch of little ones adding up to a lot. But he is such a masterful politician that he moves very slowly, hovering near the center and letting his constituents move him left or… He has given us a chance to have some more insight into government but lobbyists own the United States.

  5. 5
    Cyrus says:

    Doing the right thing (one could call that ‘respecting his oath of office’) will bring on a political shitstorm as every Republican down to the student government level declares that the government has gone commiefascist and starts digging bunkers in their back yard.

    How disappointing – there isn’t even any downside here.

  6. 6

    My attitude is: once the healthcare bill passes (or is dead for the rest of this Congress), and ditto the climate change bill in the Senate, let’s go full-court on Obama over things like this and DADT and other second-tier issues.

    Until then, though, count me out.

  7. 7
    A Cat says:

    I was unaware there were enough Republican’s to actually do anything about it?

    You would make a much better case if you said he would upset swing voters, which it probably would, if he started freeing acquitted ‘terrorists’.

  8. 8
    neill says:

    every Republican down to the student government level declares that the government has gone commiefascist and starts digging bunkers in their back yard

    i think that might not be such a bad thing; besides, how many of ’em are left they aint doin’ it by now?

  9. 9
    Face says:

    I have to believe we’re watching the very slow unwinding of the democratic style form of gov’t in this country. When multiple, cross-party President’ships both begin to ignore/abuse Constitutional rights, it becomes a de facto method of governorship.

    Which is where Bush and Obama have taken us.

  10. 10
    A Cat says:

    @low-tech cyclist:
    @low-tech cyclist:

    I was unaware civil liberties and civil rights were “2nd-tier issues”. Attitudes like this are the reason your rights get abridged to begin with.

  11. 11
    truculentandunreliable says:

    @low-tech cyclist: I can agree with that–other than the “second-tier issues” part. I can honestly believe that he’s worried about spending political capital, as much as I fucking hate it. However, if the healthcare plan doesn’t contain some sort of decent public option, fuck him.

    @Face: This is what I’m afraid of, though I’m still willing to believe that it’s not entirely Obama’s fault and that he’s just having a hard time standing up against the inertial bullshit. We’ll see, though. We may well be done.

  12. 12

    […] by Greg on July 8, 2009 Tim F at Balloon Juice nails it on why the Obama approach to fixing the civil rights abuses of the war formerly called against terror is so troublesome. The President’s oath of […]

  13. 13
    Brick Oven Bill says:

    Obama on the United States Constitution:

    “I think we can say that the Constitution reflected an enormous blind spot in this culture that carries on until this day, and that the Framers had that same blind spot. I don’t think the two views are contradictory, to say that it was a remarkable political document that paved the way for where we are now, and to say that it also reflected the fundamental flaw of this country that continues to this day.”

    As far as I can tell, the fundamental flaw that the President sees in our Constitution is that our freedoms extend opportunity to everybody, regardless of biology. The President may appreciate the extension of opportunity, but he wants more. He wants equal outcomes. This is not possible in a functioning society and if pursued, will cause things to fall apart. This is because people are individuals, not creatures with identical plastic brains. The point of failure will be the currency.

    Bottom line being that the thing weighing on the President’s mind these days is likely not his Oath of Office.

  14. 14
    Svensker says:

    Amen.

    Yes.

    This.

    That.

  15. 15
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    I know this will sound trite, but what the hell…

    Obama’s whole campaign theme was about “we” — as in “We the people of the United States of America….”

    The 50-State strategy was about sewing seeds at the local level not just for the future of the Democratic party, but to inspire “we” to push our reps in Congress. None of the campaign speeches I heard every suggested he could — or would — wave a magic wand and fix everything. To the contrary, he always made it clear that changing things would require our participation. And that, in the simplest case, means jamming the phone lines and in-boxes of our representatives in Congress.

    One of the key reasons I voted for the guy was because he was the only candidate to overtly pledge a return to the constitutional order, which after eight years of “Unitary Executive” governance (with the complicity of a Republican congress) meant voluntarily backing away from accrued executive power. That means letting Congress do the job it’s supposed to do, which right now is a frustrating experience.

    Most of the complaints I see about Obama from the left tend to deride him for not governing as a Unitary Executive on their issues. The insanity from the right is, well, insane — but they see him as an absolute dictator. Go figure. But you can’t have it both ways: UE can’t be bad under one administration and good under another.

    Bottom line: Obama’s got an A-game most of the time, but Congress as a whole is C-game at best, and utterly useless at worst. They’ve been so ineffectual for so long and have abdicated their constitutional role for so long that they’re having to re-learn how to govern. And that goes for both parties. Of course it’s made much worse by the fact that the Republicans are bat-shit insane and openly hostile to good governance.

  16. 16
    Aaron says:

    As much as we love to blame the president, and surely he does deserve some of it . . .

    It seems to me the major problem for the better part of 3 decades has been how absolutely shitty Congress has become. It is a business/fundraiser more concerned with elections than governing – along with being filled with clowns and half-wits that can’t even agree on the most fundamental of issues without turning it into partisan sniping.

    So yeah, Obama has done some good things, and some things that I am sure none of us like very much. WTF has Congress done?

  17. 17
    bago says:

    I like the manner in which Tim laid out this post. A neutral voice establishing that although we got dealt a few good cards, what’s on the table is pure suck and is going to burn any play that is made.

    I think that it is annoying to have to illustrate obvious points again and again. Habeas Corpus was established to be a good idea A THOUSAND GODDAMNED YEARS AGO and is still being debated to this day. The fact that this debate even exists is one of the crappy cards on the table.

    The only way to get rid of the bad cards on the table is to play the good cards, even if it means that they get burnt.

    Yeah, I played Magic.

  18. 18
    alamacTHC says:

    Unfortunately, it’s worse than this, I fear.

    Except for minor window dressing, Obama is just a continuation of the Bush regime. He has sold us out on every progressive matter we voted him in for: DADT; DOMA; NAFTA; GATT; Habeas Corpus; Valerie Plame; FISA; Iraq; Afghanistan; Gitmo; and on and on. He lets the corrupt Ted Stevens off the hook, while the awful travesty of justice committed against Don Siegelman continues. He has permitted the corrupt US Attorneys appointed by the Bush criminals to continue in office. He pushes the oxymoronic “clean coal”. And he has turned his entire administration over to the banksters.

    This goes off the rails a bit at the end, but it is well worth watching:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLw

    Spaghetti Monster help us! Obviously the Obama regime won’t.

  19. 19
    bago says:

    the fundamental flaw that the President sees in our Constitution is that our freedoms extend opportunity to everybody, regardless of biology.

    About that 3/5ths clause….

  20. 20
    truculentandunreliable says:

    @Brick Oven Bill:

    As far as I can tell, the fundamental flaw that the President sees in our Constitution is that our freedoms extend opportunity to everybody, regardless of biology.

    Ummmmmmmmmmmm, no. In fact, what he was saying was the exact fucking opposite.

  21. 21
    scav says:

    Nope, this judge from left field ain’t gonna give him any n-dimensional-game high-five and I’m not pulling that “we” argument either. He can choose to be either a wind-sock or a leader without going all unitary exec and on the most important issues (to my mind) he’s barely getting a passing grade.

  22. 22
    Lupin says:

    While I agree with the consequences you depict, I don’t agree with your description of Obama’s motivations.

    I often compare Obama to Gorbachev. Both were products of a system, which they tried (unsuccessfully) to reform. The reason for their failure was two-fold: opposition from their respective nomenklaturas, and choosing tinkering over drastic reform.

  23. 23
    Aaron says:

    @alamacTHC:

    I strongly disagree – and I think blaming the president for all of the things you mentioned is a bit . . . reactionary. Also of note, see Polish TG’s comment on the Unitary Executive.

    The president can certainly be blamed for some things, but saying he is just like Bush is disingenuous, at best

  24. 24
    bago says:

    @alamacTHC: You might want to have a clue about the Ted Stevens case. Just sayin.

  25. 25
    b-psycho says:

    @Brick Oven Bill: …Newsmax? Really?

  26. 26
    Ed in NJ says:

    So let’s say Obama came into office and with one fell swoop, starting using all his political capital on the bailouts, torture, detention, health care, gay rights, etc, etc. Everyone here would be ecstatic (check that, most would still be bitching about something else).

    But how do you think that would play out in the corporate media, which controls the message? I suspect it could be disastrous for the Democratic Party. They could lose control of Congress in ’10, and if so, probably the White House in ’12. It would be described ad infinitum by the same idiot punditry we see every day as a repudiation of progressive values, and cement the fallacy of the center-right nation.

    It would also give the incoming Republican majority and administration carte blanche to do whatever the fuck they wanted for the next 20 years.

    Things don’t move as fast as we want in Washington. Fortunately, I think Obama is playing the long game. I, for one, will at least give him a full term before I pass judgement. For now, I think he has to pick and choose his battles. I truly feel he is dealing with some tough choices. Continue the suffering of some foreigners at Gitmo in exchange for alleviating the suffering of millions of Americans through economic and healthcare reform.

  27. 27
    Michael D. says:

    @A Cat:

    I was unaware civil liberties and civil rights were “2nd-tier issues”

    Thank you. And I will stop there.

  28. 28
    anonevent says:

    @Aaron: Specifically, he has to deal with Harry Reid, who I believe is just waiting for an excuse to drop the health care bill. And three Republicans screaming about how the president is releasing terrorists into the country would be enough for Reid to shelve it.

  29. 29
    bago says:

    @truculentandunreliable: That’s the thing about trolling/acting. You would think that saying something so incredibly dumbfuckified would be an obvious wink to the audience, but at the same time you ACTUALLY know people that would say something that dumb.

    It’s why you have to sort dumb over evil.

  30. 30
    scav says:

    @Ed in NJ: um, they control the message? Really? Pay attention much? They’re off chasing copses 24/7 and hiring themselves out as lobbyists in a muck panic because of their not-to-be-questioned omni-uber-relevance.

    I’ve had it with the constitution being held hostage to an individual’s future political career.

  31. 31

    I am going to sit back and wait. You can’t cure the ills of 8 years in 6 months. We have all said this time and time again here, quite often we don’t see the next chess move, he is playing the long game and we expected check-mate with the first pawn. I am going to wait and watch.

  32. 32
    ellaesther says:

    Can I throw Lincoln into this conversation? I’m going to throw Lincoln into this conversation.

    There were many important things that Abraham Lincoln did that he only did once he felt that the people he was serving were ready for it (arming former slaves, for instance), though he had long felt these actions to be right.

    For some time now, I’ve been hoping that this is the direction that Obama is taking, on many issues — creating the circumstances (allowing the circumstances to be created) in which the people (or, enough of the people) demand a certain action, and then he’ll move on what he knows to be right. I see it as my job (as a writer, and as a politically active citizen) to play a part in changing the public mood. To quote Auden (yes, I’m throwing Auden in, too): “All I have is a voice, to undo the folded lie….”

    This theory has, so far, taken a few hits. As Tim says, Obama appears to be doing all he can to prevent certain information from getting out, and “preventive detention” – WTF? But I’m going to cling to it a little longer, because a) it makes my life a happier place to be and b) the POTUS deserves a smidge bit more time to prove himself.

    If we want to help this process along, though, we have to use our voice. Write to everyone who matters, politicians, the press, the various Depts. of Govt., and tell them what you think. Please.

  33. 33
    scav says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: And this “Sit back and wait” attitude smacks too much of “Democracy as a spectator sport” which it isn’t. The roar of the crowd means something on this particular field so damned if I won’t roar.

  34. 34
    alamacTHC says:

    @ Aaron, Bago:

    I stand on what I wrote. Facts are facts–in every respect that deals with the power of the corrupt corporate elite, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BUSH AND OBAMA. Don’t take my word, look at what has actually been done.

    And Bago: I didn’t click on the link, but I am aware that prosecutorial misconduct was involved in Stevens’ case. (I was a lawyer who lost everything due to a Federal conviction for growing medical cannabis–5 years penitentiary for possessing 10 pounds of pot. I am aware how the system works, believe me.) The solution, though, was not to dismiss the Stevens case, but to retry it honestly.

    And my point about Don Siegelman still stands:

    http://www.donsiegelman.com/

    “Just sayin”

  35. 35
    ellaesther says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Also. What Litlebritdifrnt said.

  36. 36
    ellaesther says:

    @scav: One can add one’s voice to the roar — indeed, I would say that it is our duty to add our voices to the roar — without writing off the entire enterprise as already lost.

  37. 37

    A Cat – I’ve been hearing people say “people like you are what’s wrong with this country today” for forty years. It doesn’t particularly bother me.

    One can’t fight every battle at once. (Anyone remember “Students Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything” from L’il Abner?) Yeah, I know Obama was supposed to wave a magic wand and make every good thing happen at once. But even he has limits, especially working with a Senate where he has a filibuster-proof majority only if Ted Kennedy and Robert Byrd can make it from their sickbeds to the Senate floor, and if recalcitrant Senators like Ben Nelson and Blanche Lincoln don’t screw things up.

    So yeah, I’m expecting Obama to avoid shitstorms until healthcare and climate change are shepherded through Congress, because otherwise they just don’t happen at all. Good on him for being a grownup.

  38. 38
    Adrienne says:

    *has not repealed DADT because he wants an act of congress

    Correction: Obama doesn’t “want” an act of Congress, an act of Congress is REQUIRED. If it is not done by Congress then it is not “repealed” just ignored – until a Republican president is in office. DADT was established by an act of Congress and ONLY an act of Congress can repeal it – period.

    I agree with Polish: It seems to me like all the wankers really want Obama to be a Democratic version of Bush. They want him to be a “unitary executive” – just as long as he’s doing what they want him to do. It’s ludicrous.

    @alamacTHC: ZOMG. Chill with the histrionics.

    @scav: What exactly are the issues you are most concerned about that Obama is supposedly failing on?

  39. 39
    Michael D. says:

    First they said: “100 days is not enough time for the president to do anything substantial about civil liberties!” and I went along with them because I thought they were right.

    Then they said, “Wait till after he’s been in office for a couple years!” and I went along because, heck, it’s only been a couple years, right? Things like this take time.

    Then they said, “Wait till he gets elected to a second term because then he won’t have to worry about re-election and can do more on civil rights!” and I said, “Sure, that makes some sense.”

    In the 8th year, they said, “We have to elect another Democrat because it’s the only way to ensure civil liberties are protected!”

    And then it was too late. Welcome to the White House, President Mittens.

  40. 40
    scav says:

    @ellaesther: I never said that I’d written anything off. Just that so far he’s barely getting a passing grade on the topics most of interest to me. Could be based entirely on pop quizzes and class participation.

  41. 41
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt:

    I am going to sit back and wait. You can’t cure the ills of 8 years in 6 months. We have all said this time and time again here, quite often we don’t see the next chess move, he is playing the long game and we expected check-mate with the first pawn. I am going to wait and watch.

    What you said.

    I would only argue that it’s more than 8 years we’re talking about here. We’re dealing with almost a half century of congressional atrophy. Damn near everything Bush/Cheney got away with is a result of decades of power-shifting to the Executive away from congress. An institutionally stronger-willed congress might have prevented many of the Bush admin’s abuses.

    The ultimate long-game Obama’s running is to re-balance the scales. It’s about the fundamental soundness of our entire political system. In my opinion, anyway.

  42. 42
    bago says:

    @alamacTHC: To say “there is no difference” is to buy into the same Manichean bullshit that got us to this point to begin with.

    All is kind of a big word. Please treat it with respect.

    Reading is a virtue, also.

    Holder is not asking that the charges being dropped, but instead is asking a federal appeals court to send the cases back to the trial judge, acknowledging that the government failed to turn over key evidence to the defense — the very misstep that doomed the Stevens prosecution. Indeed, Holder’s move was the result of a review that he ordered as a result of the Stevens case.

  43. 43
    Scott de B. says:

    @ellaesther: Also worth pointing out that Lincoln did some pretty unacceptable things in my book, even if overall he was a great president. Ditto FDR. That’s not meant to let Obama off the hook.

    xcept for minor window dressing, Obama is just a continuation of the Bush regime. He has sold us out on every progressive matter we voted him in for: DADT; DOMA; NAFTA; GATT; Habeas Corpus; Valerie Plame; FISA; Iraq; Afghanistan; Gitmo; and on and on.

    Well, I’m sure we all had different reasons for voting for him. Speaking for myself, DADT and DOMA are not top-priority issues; it was obvious during the primaries that they were not top-priority for Obama either. In fact, his overall attitude towards gay rights was one reason myself and others preferred Edwards to begin with.

    But when it comes down to it, I voted for Obama for these reasons:

    1. Stop crazyfication of the political system
    2. Restore civil liberties, end Gitmo and warrantless wiretapping.
    3. Pass universal health care
    4. Pass climate change bill
    5. Withdraw from Iraq.

    On those five measures, I grade him as follows:

    1. B
    2. D
    3. Incomplete
    4. Incomplete
    5. B

    Those are preliminary. At this point, I’m not ready to declare his presidency a failure. Much remains to be determined.

  44. 44
    scav says:

    @Adrienne: DOJ / Torture / DADT / DOMA. The Economy he’s getting a pass on – combination of mixed performance and not something anyone can really expect him to control. He’s doing better with Health Care, but that just isn’t at the top of my deck.

  45. 45
    Michael D. says:

    @Scott de B.:

    But when it comes down to it, I voted for Obama for these reasons:

    2. Restore civil liberties,

    Except those pesky gay ones like supporting the repeal of DADT and DOMA. Not really top priority…

  46. 46
    demimondian says:

    @Litlebritdifrnt: Once Rahm Emmanuel starts caving on critical points — and, don’t lie to yourself, the trial balloon to accept a watered down option was such a cave — Barack Obama is ready to cave on such points.

    Then, suddenly, the public erupted, and, lo and behold, the Dem leadership in the Senate discovered a spine. I suggest that the two facts are not merely correlated, but the one caused the other — until the public showed it cared, by standing up to Obama’s Magistrate, at which point, Obama and Reid played good cop, and called their troops into order.

  47. 47
    scav says:

    @scav: actually, looking at my personal list, a passing grade includes a fair bit of “shows general promise” score adjustment.

  48. 48
    Adrienne says:

    @scav:

    The roar of the crowd means something on this particular field so damned if I won’t roar.

    How about you try roaring in a way that doesn’t serve to kneecap the guy – you know,

    @Michael D.:

    Thank you. And I will stop there.

    I’m sorry, and I know this is going to piss off a SHIT load of people, but in the political arena, they damn well are. I support gay rights 100% – full on marriage and all – but it ain’t like you all are being denied, oh, I don’t know, the right to vote like blacks were prior to 1964. The man is trying to – quite literally – save people’s lives by getting health care passed. THAT, is THE top tier political issue. I have no doubt that DOMA and DADT are on the schedule, but quite frankly, I am not willing to sacrifice healthcare on the alter of either of those issues.

    Here’s the game at this point: He only has but so much political capital at this point in his presidency and make no mistake about it, using it on DOMA and DADT would waste it and not earn him any in return (see Clinton, Bill) However. f he actually gets healthcare passed, that will gain him political capital with the public where some insane percentage (like 70%) want something progressive passed. Healthcare first gets him the capital needed for the DOMA and DADT fight ahead. It doesn’t work the other way around.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Michael D.:

    Then they said, “Wait till after he’s been in office for a couple years!” and I went along because, heck, it’s only been a couple years, right? Things like this take time.

    Wow, Obama’s already been in office for a couple of years? Amazing how time flies. Here I thought he’d been inaugurated less than six months ago, but I guess that only happened in my reality.

    It would be nice to at least reach the one-year mark before we decide it’s completely hopeless and nothing will ever get done and we may as well start building our own backyard bunkers, don’t you think?

  50. 50
    ellaesther says:

    @Scott de B.: Yes, as did John Adams (who I otherwise quite admire, and was one of those founders that I’m constantly swooning over in my geeky way)! I try to remember this, because Obama had me good and thrilled (and swoony, in my geeky way) during the campaign and lead up to inauguration, and let’s not talk about all the crying on Jan. 20, shall we? But he is human, and he’s a politician, and even the best, most admirable people (not to mention politicians) do things that I find unacceptable — things that simply are unacceptable, my opinion not playing any role in the matter. This, I suppose, is why democracy is important and we keep having to throw our voices into the mix — because as great a President as I believe Obama will have proved himself to be in 8 years, he is a human, and humans fuck up.

  51. 51
    Michael D. says:

    @Mnemosyne: It was a paraphrase of Martin Niemöller and something I believe will probably be true in 8 years.

  52. 52
    Ron says:

    @Englischlehrer:
    For the most part I feel the same way as you, but a couple of points:

    DADT is the law as passed by congress. He can’t simply repeal it on his own.

    You might not like more troops in Afghanistan, but if you are even remotely surprised, you weren’t paying much attention. He said during the campaign that he thought we needed more troops there.

  53. 53
    Redshirt says:

    Sweet! This thread is going to turn into that thread again. 1000 comments, here we come!

  54. 54
    demimondian says:

    @Adrienne:

    How about you try roaring in a way that doesn’t serve to kneecap the guy

    In other words, why don’t I just sit down and shut up.

    Here’s a tough fact: if I don’t threaten to hurt Obama’s legacy, then *he won’t pay me any attention*. And that’s as it should be, as he has political opponents who *can* threaten his legacy; if I’m not one of them, then he needs to deal only with those others. After all, where am I going to go? The Republicans?

    When MoveOn started running ads against Democrats, it hit the Democratic leadership that the left might actually be willing to take their anger out of Dems they didn’t like, and that maybe the left would go *nowhere*, and say “a bill that doesn’t do (pick your words) is worse than nothing”. That, suddenly, threatens to kneecap them, and, then, and only then, did they listen.

  55. 55
    scav says:

    @Adrienne: dear dear dear. I think you over-rate my importance. My posting a barely passing grade in a blog is now knee-capping. (faints)

  56. 56
    Michael D. says:

    @Redshirt: Point to Redshirt.

    I will shut up now. I promise. :-)

  57. 57
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Torture is a crime against humanity, and can be prosecuted in international courts such as the International Criminal Court (ICC).

    However, said courts will not start prosecutions until the “host country” demonstrates that it is unwilling or unable to prosecute.

    The DOJ can still bring charges against BushCo war criminals; they haven’t ruled it out. But in a few short years, the statute of limitations runs, and it can’t prosecute.

    Then the questions become: does the ICC prosecute? Will Obama allow extradition?

    War criminals convicted by the ICC are beyond the reach of presidential pardons, so that’s a plus.

  58. 58
    Scott de B. says:

    Except those pesky gay ones like supporting the repeal of DADT and DOMA. Not really top priority

    I consider the right to privacy more important than the right to marry. I consider the right of habeas corpus more important than the right to serve in the military. I’d prefer not to have to draw those distinctions, but that’s how much the Bush administration screwed up this country.

  59. 59
    Adam says:

    It’s almost like some people here don’t understand what political capital is. Or picking your battles.

  60. 60
    scav says:

    @Adam: Excuse me, maybe we’re also trying to contribute in the choice of battles to pick.

  61. 61
    Redleg says:

    Bush’s negligence about these issues has indeed place Obama in a bad spot. Although I detest the idea of detaining people without any possibility of due process, I think it is not unreasonable for Obama to try to buy some time to straighten out the absolute fucking legal mess that Bush and his douchebag buddies made.

  62. 62
    bago says:

    @demimondian: It’s almost like you’re describing a political strategy in a democracy.

  63. 63
    demimondian says:

    @bago: Gosh — that couldn’t possibly be, could it?

  64. 64
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:

    “…There is no difference…”?

    WTF let Ralph Nader in here?

    Yeah, heard that in 2000 and we all see how accurate that was.

  65. 65
    Ron says:

    @Scott de B.:
    Your list looks about right. I have to say I’m disppointed with his inaction so far on DADT. (Yes, as I and others have pointed out, he can’t repeal it himself, but he could pressure Congress to get on it). But one thing you’ve left out is this:

    Improve Foreign relations/improve our image abroad. On this I have to give him an A.

  66. 66
    Punchy says:

    @Mnemosyne: I’m pretty sure Mike’s point was that at that year mark, many of the people here would simply say “Well, a year’s not enough time to reverse the mess”, then repeat that very sentence at the 2 year mark. Suddenly, it’s “election season!”, and he’s unable to push thru controversial shit, and it’s on to year 5 (if re-elected).

    This arbitrary time to suggest (“1 year”) may be too long for some, too short for others. Clearly for Mike, 6 months is enough time to–at the very least–sign one’s fucking name to a Exec Order repealing DADT.

  67. 67
    Michael D. says:

    @Punchy: Not to belabor the point, but an Executive Order cannot repeal DADT. He could sign an EO to stop enforcement (just like he did with some federal drug law enforcement in California.)

  68. 68
    Adam says:

    @scav:

    I guess as one of the tens of millions of uninsured Americans, I would rather Obama spend his political capital on health care reform. Or for that matter, cap and trade.

    If freeing the prisoners and prosecuting their torturers (which, if done properly and in good faith would require an investigation right up the chain of command to Bush’s top brass and administration officials) is your top priority, so be it, but it really is a zero sum choice.

  69. 69
    Batocchio says:

    Obama inherited plenty of problems he probably would not have invented or allowed. However, due process is an absolute line – and it’s just not a hard call. KSM and other proven terrorists won’t be freed, despite their mistreatment. But if we can’t make a case against others – especially after a good seven or more years – let those people go. Hey, you can even monitor them if you like. But let them go. As a McClatchy series reported, the Bush administration knew the vast majority of Gitmo prisoners were innocent quite early on, and just didn’t care. The threat these people represent seems to be grossly exaggerated. And is the Obama administration, like the Bush administration, really contending that they can’t get a conviction against an actual terrorist in a military (or even civilian) court? This smells like paranoia – and callousness – made policy.

  70. 70
    A Cat says:

    @low-tech cyclist:

    So you are walking back from “Until then, though, count me out”? That sentence conveys certain level of dismissive feelings towards civil rights of minorities. There will always be larger issues facing the nation then the rights of a few thousand detainees and a few million LGBT.

    So if the President had decided to start wading into the firestorm that is minorities rights over some pressing issue that effects the majority of Americans you would give it your 100% support or would you say they can wait while we deal with issues more pressing to the majority?

    I’m aware that might be a loaded question, but I’m unaware how else to frame it.

  71. 71
    Michael D. says:

    @Batocchio:

    KSM and other proven terrorists

    And not to belabor THIS point, but KSM hasn’t been proven to have done anything in a court of law (that I am aware of.)

  72. 72
    Ed in NJ says:

    @scav

    @Ed in NJ: um, they control the message? Really? Pay attention much? They’re off chasing copses 24/7 and hiring themselves out as lobbyists in a muck panic because of their not-to-be-questioned omni-uber-relevance.

    I’ve had it with the constitution being held hostage to an individual’s future political career.

    You must not watch much mainstream media, because in my world, I see 24 hours of Republicans on my TV screen bitching about everything Obama does, just like I saw 24 hours of Republicans on my TV supporting everything Bush did. The MJ coverage was a temporary diversion, as are Sanford and Palin. When things are slow, it’s all Obama-bashing, all the time.

    The Democrats have a very tenuous foothold on power. It’s unfortunate, but to the majority of the country, the center, who don’t read political blogs all day and are much less informed about the issues, Obama has to be very conscientious of the appearance of overreaching. If the economy tanks while he’s perceived as being distracted by issues that are not real priorities to the majority of people, it will have grave long term consequences. This is a president that was seen (and is still seen by many) as too inexperienced for the office. The last thing he wants to do is feed the notion that he’s reckless.

  73. 73
    A Cat says:

    @Adam:

    but it really is a zero sum choice.

    You assume its a zero sum choice. Do you think people are going to NOT support universal health care with a public option because the President decided to task his working group with figuring out how to free detainees rather then how to detain them indefinitely? You are ascribing a very petty attitude to the majority of Americans which I think is unfounded.

  74. 74
    NR says:

    @comrade scott’s agenda of rage: Back during the debate over waterboarding, the wingnuts were saying that it was okay because the terrorists did much worse things to prisoners they captured. We weren’t as bad as the terrorists, so obviously, we were just fine. To this, some very wise people responded “The question isn’t are we the same as the terrorists, it’s are we different enough?”

    The question here is not whether Obama is the same as Bush; obviously, he’s not. The question is, is he different enough?

  75. 75
    demimondian says:

    @Batocchio:

    KSM and other proven terrorists won’t be freed, despite their mistreatment

    If KSM were a proven terrorist, there wouldn’t be a problem, though. The problem in this case is that he’s *not* a proven terrorist..

  76. 76
    Adam says:

    @A Cat:

    I’ll answer for him and say that minorities’ rights issues can wait if fixing those things gets in the way of UHC and immediate climate change action. Sorry, but there it is. It’s not as if UHC and cap and trade won’t benefit gay people as well.

  77. 77
    sparky says:

    free-for-all! yay! a couple of months ago here i got flamed for being down on Obama though i voted and worked for him. so cuz i like trolling, here are my grades, as of today:

    Economy: F
    War: F
    Culture (Political & otherwise, including the level of discourse): A-
    Moving the visible agenda from the Bush worldview: B
    Making everyone feel better about the USA by virtue of not looking like an imbecile: A
    Civil Rights: F (includes same-sex, terror, bill-of-rights issues)

    i said then and repeat now, i think people are confusing liking what BHO says with paying attention to what he does.

    oh, and there’s no such thing as political capital being like a bank balance. why do so many people here insist on following George Bush’s notion of politics?

  78. 78
    anonevent says:

    @Punchy: I don’t know. Do you really want DADT to disappear in an executive order – even if all he does is stop enforcement – until the next president takes office? If it doesn’t stay on the radar, nothing will get done about it. As much as I think he has to pass healthcare first in order to be able to get DADT and DOMA repealed, people like Michael D and others need to be constantly screaming about it, as much as it might drive them mad.

    The EO that Obama issued to stop going after shops in California may sound like a good idea, but it doesn’t solve the issue, it only delays it to the next president with a stick up his/her butt.

  79. 79
    Adam says:

    @A Cat:

    I think it would cause a gigantic distracting shitstorm, and a gigantic distracting shitstorm is the last thing BHO needs while trying to get some form of UHC through congress.

  80. 80

    This is the second you’ve nakedly asserted that Obama intends to incarcerate innocent people, and you haven’t provided the slightest evidence that that charge is true.

    The actual debate is about people who we know to be guilty, but who are proven guilty by evidence that would be thrown out of court under the “fruit of the poison tree” doctrine.

    This is a tricky issue with no good answer. There’s nothing to be gained by misrepresenting it.

  81. 81
    Adrienne says:

    @demimondian: Noone is telling you to “sit down and shut up”. My larger point is if you knee cap him now (a scant 6 months in) then he won’t be able to get ANYTHING done. That doesn’t do anyone any good.

    @Michael D.: Exactly. An EO just makes it a political football where each side does exactly they want when they are in the WH. See: Gag-rule, abortion.

    @Scott de B.: <—- What he said.

    DOJ / Torture / DADT / DOMA.

    Well, he technically doesn’t run the DOJ – since it’s supposed to be independent and all. He’s depoliticizing it and he should get an A on that front.

    He’s been pretty une-fuckin-quivocal about torture.

    He hasn’t gotten to DADT yet since it requires an act of Congress and when it comes to Congress, you gotta admit his hands have been pretty full with the stimulus, Iraq, the budget, Lily Ledbetter, SChip, Healthcare, Sotomayor, Cap & trade, getting his appointees seated, etc… I know the Repubs call him the “Messiah” but he can’t do all things and be all places at once. Again, it’s only been six months!

    DOMA: definite fail. That brief that the DOJ filed was monstrous, but again, Obama doesn’t run the DOJ.

  82. 82
    Redshirt says:

    Count me in the group which says “Obama must pick his battles”. Taking on — and putting in jail — the criminals of the last Administration will be such a tense, volatile situation — look at their responses to what Obama has done so far. Now imagine their reactions when we start prosecuting, oh, Mr. Dick? I would suspect actual violence out in Wingnuttia.

    Now, imagine that, and trying to get Healthcare or climate change or another stimulus effort out.

    Not practical.

  83. 83
    jerry 101 says:

    The simple fact is that Obama doesn’t have a multifaceted decision to make. Doing the right thing (one could call that ‘respecting his oath of office’) will bring on a political shitstorm as every Republican down to the student government level declares that the government has gone commiefascist and starts digging bunkers in their back yard. If Obama doesn’t want that fight then he has to keep innocent people in cages and tell the courts and the international community to go f*ck themselves.

    All well and good, but if we’ve learned anything about bedwetting crybaby conservatives like Rush Limbaugh and Mitch McConnell and Susan Collins over the past couple of decades, they will bring a political shitstorm about anything, including nothing. There’s a least 50,000 republicans in this country who started stocking up on canned goods and refurbing the old bunker when Obama got his dog.

    Not sure if Obama realizes this, which is what worries me.

  84. 84

    And not to belabor THIS point, but KSM hasn’t been proven to have done anything in a court of law (that I am aware of.)…If KSM were a proven terrorist, there wouldn’t be a problem, though. The problem in this case is that he’s not a proven terrorist..

    Oh please. Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld haven’t been convicted of ordering torture, either – that doesn’t mean we have to ignore all of the evidence of their guilt, any more than that of KSM.

  85. 85
    jerry 101 says:

    @Redshirt:

    I think I have to disagree. I think he should take on all the battles at once. Right-wing media tends to be rather single-minded, so hit them from a lot of fronts at once and we could get a lot of things done before El Rushbo even realizes he needs more oxycotin.

    You could give them the ultimate headfake and put the “fairness doctrine” on the table. We could probably push through a lot of stuff while they’re OCD over that.

  86. 86
    Adrienne says:

    You assume its a zero sum choice. Do you think people are going to NOT support universal health care with a public option because the President decided to task his working group with figuring out how to free detainees rather then how to detain them indefinitely?

    No, but if his popularity numbers tank because something he does makes it easier to paint him as soft on terrah then it may no longer be seen as politically wise to be on his side. That’s how politics works. It’s much riskier to be seen as obstructing a popular president than being a hardass with an unpopular one.

  87. 87
    Egypt Steve says:

    Only one correction to an otherwise spot-on break down: the Rethug slogan would be “Islamocommiefascist.”

  88. 88
    Tsulagi says:

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.– Barack Obama Inaugural Address

    Sounded good didn’t it? Transcendy. I must have missed hearing all the asterisks. You know, the ones leading to unspoken caveats like “Only if I have consensus and bipartisanship support from every loony wingnut in a diaper.” Or “Only if my plate isn’t full or there is danger of my powder getting wet, if so then I’ll follow my visionary predecessor’s lead and keep kicking the can down the road.”

  89. 89
    demimondian says:

    @Adrienne: And my point is that if I don’t legitimately threaten to kneecap him now, I’ll get nothing. That’s the way the game is played, and, if you don’t like it, well, grow up.

  90. 90
    Redshirt says:

    You make some good points jerry 101; I love the idea of using the Fairness Doctrine as a covering smoke screen.

    But, the Dems still seem way too timid in responding to this Wingnut crap. And I don’t mean Obama — he responds to it perfectly. We need some attack dogs to hit the “circuit” and push back against the endless streams of bull from the wackjobs.

    But your point is probably correct — the Repubs will wail and moan about anything Obama does. But, where does he lose the real “middle class”. There are still lines out there that are dangerous to cross.

  91. 91
    A Cat says:

    @Adrienne:

    My larger point is if you knee cap him now (a scant 6 months in) then he won’t be able to get ANYTHING done.

    Please give a definitive date/time when it will be OK to kneecap the President? Its a very nice rhetorical ploy, but if you aren’t being purely rhetorical you need to give a date/time with no caveats.

  92. 92
    demimondian says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld haven’t been convicted of ordering torture, either – that doesn’t mean we have to ignore all of the evidence of their guilt, any more than that of KSM.

    Are they imprisoned? No? Isn’t that ignoring the evidence of their guilt?

  93. 93
    Michael D. says:

    @joe from Lowell: Nobody is saying that KSM is not a terrorist. No one is saying that Cheney and Rumsfeld didn’t order torture. And no one here is ignoring the evidence. In fact, just the opposite.

    Unlike many countries, the United States has a standard of justice that is, theoretically, supposed to presume innocence.

    So, while I sincerely believe KSM is a terrorist, and while I sincerely believe George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney are criminals, I am not the one who gets to make that decision. All of the evidence against each has to be laid out in a legitimate court of law and evaluated. Until then, the American justice system is bound to presume innocence.

    To say they are all guilty, guilty, guilty without following this process is EXACTLY what Bush and Cheney did for 8 years, hoping we’d ignore that there was no due process or legitimate trial. They hoped, and apparently succeeded with many, that we would start presuming guilt on a “because we say so” basis.

    Is KSM a terrorist? I have no doubt. Put him in front of a judge and jury and let’s follow the process that we are supposed to follow.

  94. 94

    demimondian,

    Are they imprisoned? No? Isn’t that ignoring the evidence of their guilt?

    Yes, it is. The people who are ignoring the evidence of their guilt should stop that. I sure as hell am not, and I doubt you are, either.

  95. 95

    Michael D.

    @joe from Lowell: Nobody is saying that KSM is not a terrorist. And no one here is ignoring the evidence. In fact, just the opposite.

    Um, did you not notice the quotes I pulled from the thread?

    And not to belabor THIS point, but KSM hasn’t been proven to have done anything in a court of law (that I am aware of.)…If KSM were a proven terrorist, there wouldn’t be a problem, though. The problem in this case is that he’s not a proven terrorist..

    or the post?

    If Obama doesn’t want that fight then he has to keep innocent people in cages

    Clearly, quite a few people are saying that KSM is not a terrorist, and that everyone who cannot be prosecuted in criminal court, because the Bush administration tainted the evidence through misconduct, is innocent.

    All of the evidence against each has to be laid out in a legitimate court of law and evaluated. Until then, the American justice system is bound to presume innocence.

    The legal system is bound to treat them as innocent until proven guilty. You, I, and Tim F. are not bound to debate what to do now with people like KSM by assuming that they are innocent.

  96. 96
    SadOldVet says:

    Each morning I thank my god that John McCrap is not president…
    Each morning I thank my god twice that Billary is not president…
    I do NOT thank my god that Obama is president…

    On January 20th of this year, Obama took the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution and to uphold the laws of the United States.

    Torture, as practiced by the Bush Criminal Enterprise, is illegal, immoral, and it just does not work.

    The data mining of web traffic and telephone calls is/was illegal – regardless of the amoral after-the-fact change of the laws to protect the telecomms & the Bush Criminal Enterprise.

    The subversion of the Department of Justice by the Bush Criminal Enterprise, to ensure Karl Rove’s rethugnican rule forever, was illegal & immoral.

    As long as Obama choses political expediency over the protection of the Constitution and the enforcement of our laws, he is abdicating his oath of office. Until the crimes of the Bush administration are investigated and prosecuted as found warranted, Obama is abdicating his oath of office.

  97. 97
    A Cat says:

    @Adrienne:

    It’s much riskier to be seen as obstructing a popular president than being a hardass with an unpopular one.

    The American public who are in strong support, 76% I think, of universal health care with a public option will see Obama isn’t as popular and well liked enough for them to hold the same values as the President and will abandon their desires?

    While I agree there is a certain portion of the population who only follow Obama because of the ‘hero/celebrity’ factor, I’m not going to be able to agree with you that enough people will abandon their own beliefs and we’ll lose numbers needed to influence our public officials.

    I had a very similar conversation recently with a friend, he put it differently but I think your points are the same, “The sheep need a shepherd”. While I know there is certain number of people who do need a shepherd I don’t think its nearly as large of a part of the population that you do. At least thats my impression of what you are saying.

  98. 98
    That One - Cain says:

    @Polish the Guillotines:

    This is a great point and I 100% agree. It’s our country, if we want to affect the changes then it’s time to smack congress around some. Obama will sign it, but it’s really our jobs to effect that change.

    cain

  99. 99
    Punchy says:

    until the next president takes office?

    No. No no no no no..IMO. This is JUST LIKE gay marriage. Big Boogeyman says gay marriage gunna RUIN marriage! But then a few states pass it, and the rest of the country says, “Whoa, WTF was the big deal with gay marriage? Seems just fine afterall”.

    Same exact thing would happen to the military. Allow gays to openly serve, and in 4/8 years (whenever GOP takes over again), when they’ve proven both their skill AND their inability to ruin unit cohesion, the military will not want it enforced. In fact, societal acceptance will be so high as to ruin any politician who attempts to revert back to the old policy.

    An EO will give gays time to prove their invalueableness to the armed forces, such that the DADT policy will be effectively neutered.

  100. 100

    Michael D.,

    Put him in front of a judge and jury and let’s follow the process that we are supposed to follow.

    But we find ourselves in a unique situation. While some of the people held are either clearly innocent or aren’t implicated by any reliable evidence (at least, this was true as of January 20), we have a whole class of other detainees – not just a case here and there, as we see from time to time in the regular criminal justice system – against whom there is very strong evidence of guilt, but because that evidence was acquired based on searches that were conducted based on evidence that, at some point down the line, was tainted by torture or other coercion, or other wrongdoing. When this happens, in our legal system, not only is the evidence that was illegally obtained thrown out, but so is any other evidence that the government was inspired to look for because of that illegally-obtained evidence, no matter if the latter evidence was obtained using perfectly legal methods.

    I am not sure that “release them forthwith, like we’d do with a pot dealer whose trunk was searched without a warrant” is the only legitimate option here. The Geneva Convention allows us to hold POWs, and to try suspected war criminals in front of “regularly constituted tribunals” that meet certain standards (standards different from our domestic criminal courts). I’m not sure either of those are the right way to go, either.

    What I am sure about is that we’re not going to do a good job figuring this out by making faulty assumptions, such as “everyone that can’t be tried because the evidence is tainted is innocent,” or “Obama wants to put innocent people in cages.”

  101. 101
    A Cat says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    The legal system is bound to treat them as innocent until proven guilty. You, I, and Tim F. are not bound to debate what to do now with people like KSM by assuming that they are innocent.

    We can debate on what we want to do with them all we want, but the law and what I believe to be our principals state what we SHOULD do. What we should do is give them a fair trial and abide by its outcome regardless of what it is.

  102. 102

    BTW, I’d just like to point out that in 12 days, we will be 1/16th of the way through Obama’s presidency.

    That’s 6.25%.

    ZOMG, he hasn’t gotten to DADT and torture prosecutions yet!

  103. 103

    @Ed in NJ

    Things don’t move as fast as we want in Washington. Fortunately, I think Obama is playing the long game. I, for one, will at least give him a full term before I pass judgement. For now, I think he has to pick and choose his battles. I truly feel he is dealing with some tough choices. Continue the suffering of some foreigners at Gitmo in exchange for alleviating the suffering of millions of Americans through economic and healthcare reform.

    That’s right, who cares about the human rights of a bunch of sand niggers and dune coons? Fuck ’em! They’re just brown people and until we have full employment for white people in America we don’t have time to worry about their civil rights. Until I have a job again and can buy lots of shit at WalMart those bastards can rot in Gitmo!

    Oh, and you’re right about not upsetting the corporate media or the villagers by upholding the Constitution as the oath of office requires, that shit is just crazy talk and it’s not as important as getting a health care bill passed or climate change legislation.

  104. 104
    wilfred says:

    because something he does makes it easier to paint him as soft on terrah then it may no longer be seen as politically wise to be on his side. That’s how politics works.

    Thus:

    In order to have The Great Society, I had to give them Vietnam.

    40 years on and it’s still the same – brown/yellow people will be incarcerated, incinerated or otherwise just hassled so Americans can have their health costs covered.

    Observations of pathetic ‘realities’ don’t make them any less pathetic. What’s worse is that the generation who came of age hating Johnson for his politics will snuggle up to Obama while he does the same thing.

    America is a great country, but we are not such a great people.

  105. 105
    scav says:

    @Adam: Yup. You have your priorities and I have mine – and both of us speaking up about it with some hope of being heard is what makes it a democracy, no matter who’s reportedly at the “top” of it. And maybe we can get some movement on both.

    Adrienne, he’s pulling some of the same secrecy ploys that the former admin did, and I throw that in the DOJ side of the leger.

  106. 106

    We can debate on what we want to do with them all we want, but the law and what I believe to be our principals state what we SHOULD do.

    The law allows Obama extremely wide latitude to hold al Qaeda and Taliban members as POWs. (Once again, I’m not saying I’m certain we should do this. For one thing, there is a much greater chance that we will have picked up the wrong guy than in previous situations of POWs being cancelled – but still, it’s legal.)

    What we should do is give them a fair trial and abide by its outcome regardless of what it is

    You would release Khalid Sheik Mohammed if a judge rules that none of the evidence that proves him to be a mass murderer is admissible, no matter how strong that evidence is?

    You can’t see how someone could conclude it would be better to hold him as a POW?

  107. 107
    Scott de B. says:

    The law allows Obama extremely wide latitude to hold al Qaeda and Taliban members as POWs.

    I could live with this, but it would be a reversal of how the Bush administration treated them. That’s fine, but it needs to be publicly declared.

  108. 108
    A Cat says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    But we find ourselves in a unique situation. *cutting out all that stuff that contradicts that this is a unique situation *

    What I am sure about is that we’re not going to do a good job figuring this out by making faulty assumptions, such as “everyone that can’t be tried because the evidence is tainted is innocent,” or “Obama wants to put innocent people in cages.”

    I think you are leaving out a whole classes of detainees. The people who are being held only because the evidence they have against them was obtained illegally, the people being held because of mistaken identity, or the people being held because there is no evidence other then their own confessions under duress.

    There is a very good chance some of those people are innocent and thus “Obama wants to put innocent people in cages” is a very accurate quote. The President wants to keep people locked away because he doesn’t dare release someone who under normal rules would be released and have them turn out to be an actual terrorist and then commit a terrorist act, which has the unintended consequence of keeping truly innocent people in cages.

    The only figuring out that we need to do is for people to decide how much they value the rule of law over their perception of safety.

    Given our track record on that may I welcome you to the new Era of American Banana Republicdom.

  109. 109
    Comrade Kevin says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    The law allows Obama extremely wide latitude to hold al Qaeda and Taliban members as POWs.

    But, of course, they’re NOT being held as POWs.

  110. 110
    Shygetz says:

    @Scott de B.: What he said.

    And I’m sorry, but things like

    The simple fact is that Obama doesn’t have a multifaceted decision to make.

    and speculation that Obama may be prepping the ICC to step in and prosecute smacks of nascent apologia to me. Of course he has a multifaceted decision to make; he could pressure Congress for more investigations, he could set up independent commissions, he could instruct the DOJ as a matter of policy to not defend Bush-era policies that he finds unlawful and let the Judicial Branch take the heat, or he could go all-out and repeal all of the Bush criminality himself, even taking Jacksonian measures to refuse to enforce laws that allow for unconstitutional searches, seizures, and imprisonment, not to mention innumerable shades of grey between these options. To pretend that he is constrained in his options is just wrong-headed rationalization–Obama is disappointing those who believed his words when it came to civil liberties.

    Obama has really disappointed me in terms of pushing forward his agenda, although to be fair he has been saddled with the crappiest Congress in recent memory. He is a consensus-builder, but consensus-builders are only effective from a policy standpoint when working with opposing viewpoints that are rational. In our current political climate, we need a hard-nosed idealist willing to shove things down the opposition’s throat. Obama would have done beautifully in a political climate like Eisenhower’s, when the opposing viewpoints were at least nominally rational. Today, well, you just gotta call the crazy people nuts, and he seems unwilling to do that.

  111. 111
    Michael D. says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    You would release Khalid Sheik Mohammed if a judge rules that none of the evidence that proves him to be a mass murderer is admissible, no matter how strong that evidence is?

    Yes.

    Because to do otherwise would permit anyone acquitted of a crime in the American legal system to be jailed indefinitely on the whim of a president or government official who disagrees with a judge’s ruling that certain evidence is inadmissable.

    I have no doubt that murderers in this country have gone free because a judge has thrown out evidence that was coerced from the accused by force.

    And when that happens, perhaps the officers involved learned a fucking lesson. You don’t fucking smack someone in the fucking head repeatedly with a phonebook till he confesses.

    Do you see how someone could conclude that the consequences of torture could be that we have to release someone who is dangerous because a President and his team fucked up royally and brought it on themselves?

  112. 112
    Don says:

    Doing the right thing (one could call that ‘respecting his oath of office’) will bring on a political shitstorm as every Republican down to the student government level declares that the government has gone commiefascist and starts digging bunkers in their back yard.

    You think it’s just the repubs? Plenty of dems have shit/blood on their hand, either because they’re just as slimy or because they’re chickenshits who folded like a card table.

    I’m not pleased with O’s progress but I don’t think this is a matter you can draw a bright line on; there’s a lot of people who don’t want to see any accountability for the actions taken from 2001 through 2008.

  113. 113

    Scott de B.,

    I’m still not sure if I could support declaring them POWs, but one this is for sure: if we hold them as POWs, then we have to hold them as POWs. No Supermax. No isolation. Letters home. The whole deal.

    A Cat,

    I think you are leaving out a whole classes of detainees. The people who are being held only because the evidence they have against them was obtained illegally, the people being held because of mistaken identity, or the people being held because there is no evidence other then their own confessions under duress.

    I’m leaving them out, because I don’t think there’s a lot to debate there. Those people should be released.

    I’m talking about the tough cases – the people we know to be guilty, but wouldn’t be able to enter the evidence, no matter how reliable and confirmed, in a court of law.

    There is a very good chance some of those people are innocent and thus “Obama wants to put innocent people in cages” is a very accurate quote.

    I’ve seen no evidence of Obama proposing to hold people against whom there is no reliable evidence of their guilt.

  114. 114
    A Cat says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    You would release Khalid Sheik Mohammed if a judge rules that none of the evidence that proves him to be a mass murderer is admissible, no matter how strong that evidence is?

    You can’t see how someone could conclude it would be better to hold him as a POW?

    Even if he murdered my whole family. I would then spend every single moment of my life making sure the people who screwed up the prosecution and evidence gathering suffer for their illegal acts which lead to his acquittal.

    The government doesn’t get a pass on obeying the law because they feel it obeys some higher purpose, their duty is to the constitution and the laws not me.

    Holding him as a POW is contortion. KSM isn’t a military regular of either Afghanistan, Iraq, or Korea (Are we technically still at war in Vietnam? I forget). Even if he was a POW once the ‘war’ is over he has to be released back to some country, right? Or are you suggesting a War that never ends?

  115. 115
    demimondian says:

    @joe from Lowell: Not exactly. The fact that they aren’t being investigated is ignoring the evidence that they are at the least terrorists, and, more likely full out war criminals. The fact that they haven’t been imprisoned — that’s nothing but a lack of evidence.

  116. 116
    Tsulagi says:

    @Punchy: I’d go with that. DADT already has spotty enforcement.

    Lot of ways for Obama to stop DADT if he wanted to either as president or CIC. The meme that it’s first necessary to repeal DADT is smoke and mirrors.

  117. 117
    demimondian says:

    @A Cat: Th eproblme with holding him as a POW is that we had certain responsibilities towards him if he was a POW. We’ve already broached those responsibilities. Our own laws leave us no alternative to trying him as a criminal with whatever patched-together evidence we can assemble.

    As a prosecutor, one little spot of unlawfully extracted evidence can..ruin your whole day.

  118. 118
    Common Sense says:

    A measure to repeal DADT was put on the floor.

    “It’s our job,” Murphy said of a repeal. “This was an act of Congress in 1993 and it will take an act of Congress” to reverse it.

    We should get an answer before 2012, right?

  119. 119
  120. 120
    Johnny B. Guud says:

    I try to remember this, because Obama had me good and thrilled (and swoony, in my geeky way) during the campaign and lead up to inauguration, and let’s not talk about all the crying on Jan. 20, shall we?

    I think a big part of the problem is that as citizens, we need to stop “swooning” over politicians, no matter how dreamy they may be, or whether there’s a “D” or an “R” after their name. Because usually, the more swoon-worthy they appear to be, the more corrupt they actually are (see Kennedys). Not saying that the President is as corrupt as most politicians. Just….caveat emptor.

  121. 121
    Michael D. says:

    Re: Blockquotes….If you are blockquoting more than one paragraph, what you need to do is this (obviously, without the extra spaces before and after the <>‘s that I am using here.)

    < blockquote >Paragraph one < P > Paragraph 2 < / blockquote >

    In other words, insert the paragraph tag between your paragraphs instead of doing a hard return. That’ll solve your issues.

    Also, inserting a < P > before your first paragraph will prevent it from bolding. Strange stuff.

  122. 122
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @That One – Cain:

    It’s our country, if we want to affect the changes then it’s time to smack congress around some. Obama will sign it, but it’s really our jobs to effect that change.

    Exactly. Just looking at the comments here (and elsewhere), the notion of a monarchical executive branch is so ingrained in our thinking that we seem to have forgotten what Congress’ role is — and so has Congress.

    We have a greater chance — however slim — of actually getting a face-to-face meeting with our congressional rep or senators than we ever will with the president. They’re the ones we need to strong-arm when it comes to issues like DADT, DOMA, health care reform, etc.

  123. 123
    liberal says:

    Anyone who looked up Obama’s Senate voting record would realize he’d rule pretty much as a “centrist.”

    Furthermore, his voting record wasn’t all that different from Hillary’s.

    I’m fine with the attitude “he was the best viable candidate, blah blah blah.” I voted for the guy and gave him a considerable amount of money.

    But anyone who went into the voting booth (either the primary or the general) thinking he was a liberal Democrat didn’t do their homework.

  124. 124
    Bill H says:

    @Scott de B.:

    1. B: Are you kidding me? What has he changed? Minnesota elections? South Carolina governors? His Treasury Dept is all lobbyists and former Goldman Sachs.
    2. D: I give him F. The only thing he done is close a symbolic gulag and continue the policies elswhere, and Gitmo may not even actually close.
    3. Incomplete: Already D at best. The plan he’s advocating is not reform, but is merely an extension of our existing, broken system to those not presently covered by it.
    4. Incomplete. Agree on this
    5. B: Are you kidding? He has not withdrawn one single soldier. “I will withdraw one brigade per month starting in the first month of my term until all of our troops are out.” Bush withdrew two brigades, and Obama has done not one thing.

  125. 125
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @liberal: What you said.

  126. 126
    bago says:

    @demimondian: Yeah, that’s the difference between rhetoric and reasearch, innit? Much like work itself, annoying, but necessary.

  127. 127
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @Polish the Guillotines:

    I would like to associate myself with this comment. George Bush reawakened our vestigial instincts toward Kingly powers, and it seems too many have not journeyed their minds from his reign to the present.

    I don’t envy Obama and the mountain of shit to be waded through in repairing the national psyche. With friendly pitchforks lined up every single step of the way.

  128. 128
    A Cat says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    I’m talking about the tough cases – the people we know to be guilty, but wouldn’t be able to enter the evidence, no matter how reliable and confirmed, in a court of law.

    I’ve seen no evidence of Obama proposing to hold people against whom there is no reliable evidence of their guilt.

    You keep doing it. You keep saying the tough cases, the cases we have irrefutable proof that can’t be used in a court of law or we have reliable information that we can’t use. There is a very good possibility, if the evidence is looked at by people who aren’t invested in the case, it may turn out its not reliable after all.

    Are there not enough cases of prosecutors cherry picking experts, intimidating witnesses, or just plain ignoring evidence that conflicts with their views to allow the wedge of skepticism pry open your beliefs a little bit?

    This is why the President is proposing the multi-tiered prosecution system. Federal courts for cases where the evidence can withstand constitutional challenges, Military Tribunals for cases where the evidence is to sketchy to use in Federal court, and indefinite detention for people whose evidence against them can’t even pass the lesser standards of Military Tribunals.

    This multi-teir system is going to catch people who are innocent, because they are found guilty in courts who were chosen specifically for their laxer standards of evidence.

    We maybe at an impasse, I won’t concede that the Government is going to objectively look at the evidence and say this isn’t strong enough to hold you and release a detainee. They may release people whom they have gathered no evidence against or managed to only gather evidence that proves they are innocent, but if you have evidence against you that says you are a terrorist you aren’t getting out even if you are innocent.

  129. 129
    bago says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: You live in Seattle so I assume you understand the concept of defining a predicate in a bubble sort, yes?

  130. 130
    A Cat says:

    @demimondian:

    As a prosecutor, one little spot of unlawfully extracted evidence can..ruin your whole day.

    I apologize in advance, but its a real question meant to start a conversation even if its loaded.

    Does it ruin your day because a criminal gets to go free or does it ruin your day because it upsets you when someone who took an oath to honor the constitution and laws of your city,state, or country and then violates that oath, jeopardizes a person’s freedom, and violated their rights?

  131. 131
    A Cat says:

    @Michael D.:
    Thank you for the block quote tips. Now if you just had some tips on effective communication of obscure political theories and grammar that would be awesome. :)

    And by obscure I mean of course obtuse! :(

  132. 132
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    I agree with Polish the Guillotines at 15 and Aaron at 16. Also, it seems to me that judging from the way that Obama has staffed the WH that he has put a high priority on building good relationships with Congress. This may be a result of careful study of what went wrong at the start of the previous two Democratic administrations, when both Carter and Clinton got off to a bad start because they got into pissing matches with a Democratically controlled Congress and other DC heavyweights like the DOD bureaucracy. It seems to me that Obama and Rahm are bending over backwards to not let that history repeat itself, and thus this administration is deliberately working issues at a pace that Congress and the DOD can live with rather than pushing them outside their comfort zones. Time will tell if this is smart politics or an opportunity wasted.

    The slippery slope problem Michael at 39 brings up worries me, but if you look at past administrations which today we mark as the highwater mark of progressive leadership (say FDR) or legislation (LBJ in 1965), and if you dig into the gory details of what actually happened back then, you’ll find a very similar mess of broken promises, compromise, equivocation, backsliding and other forms of sausage making. Unfortunately that is how it works in the sausage factory. It ain’t pretty.

    What we remember today, the legacy of those past administrations, is the highlights after all that other gunk went down the memory hole. And much of that legacy took years to put together – key parts of FDR’s New Deal legacy weren’t even on the agenda his 1st year in office, some of them not even during his 1st term in office. LBJ’s legislative agenda was made possible in part by a backlash against the extreme right in the wake of the JFK assasination and Goldwater’s flameout during the 1964 campaign (read Perlstein’s “Gathering Storm” for a good summary of the latter).

    Here’s another thought – was anybody paying attention during the campaign to what Obama spent the most time talking about, what he invested the most effort into building political capital in support of? Was detainee and counter-terrorism policy very high on that list? I don’t remember it that way. What I heard loud and clear during the campaign was 3 top priorities: the economy, health care, energy. Remember that ungodly expensive 30 min prime-time TV commerical that ran near the end of the general election – what were its the major themes? The economy, health care, energy.

    So what we’ve gotten so far from Obama is a strong focus to the virtual exclusion of other issues on the 3 biggest themes during his campaign (the fourth major theme was bipartisanship, which he has also pursued diligently). You can with justice complain that he hasn’t followed through on what you think is a priority, but I think it is a stretch to say that his priorities in office have deviated dramatically from what he promised during the campaign.

  133. 133
    bago says:

    @joe from Lowell: I can see how it would lead someone to that conclusion, but that conclusion inherently undermines the idea of the legal framework that led to that conclusion in the first place. It’s like eating a bleach tablet to ensure that your stomach is not stained. The kind of linear reasoning that leads to destroying villages to ensure their safety.

  134. 134
    prospero says:

    Golly. I wonder what The Radiant One will do.

    Never fear guys. He’s playing 17 dimension chess and his only opponents are Republicans. We’ll have war crimes trials, decreased military spending and gay marriage by this time next year.

    Oh man. Obama is sooooo dreaaaaaaammmmmmmy.

  135. 135
    Comrade Stuck says:

    @liberal:

    Finally something we agree on. Thank You!

  136. 136
    passerby says:

    I don’t think we should ignore this Constitutional issue, but I am, like @low-tech cyclist: , willing to allow Obama time to sort thru this mess, even while using some of Bush’s dictatorial methods as weapons to help unravel and resolve these injustices. It’s not like the detainee problem can be reversed with a signing statement, Bush and Cheney created a legal clusterfuck here.

    I don’t believe today’s White House position on this is their long term position. And given that we know nothing of the behind the scenes issues (that have larger, international ramifications) that come into play, I’m withholding outrage for the time being.

    Like low-tech cyclist, I’d rather see him put the full weight of his political capital behind healthcare and banking regulations. If, say a year from now, the Obama administration has not brought this issue in line with The Constitution, then let fly scorn and work to force the issue.

    Now, we have economic woes that need the full force of our attention in order to get our “representatives” in DC to serve our interests. 72% of U.S. want a public option. Should be a cakewalk–but it’s not. Banks are essentially bankrupt and we’re bailing them out–highway robbery.

    In summary, first things first:

    –Public Option for healthcare,
    –Strict, enforceable bank regulations,
    –Better/more Stimulus plans
    –Habeus Corpus

  137. 137
    anonevent says:

    Think about this: This is the group that tore Peter Daou a new one when he showed up last night, constantly beat up on BOB, and we’ve got at least fifteen points of view on how Obama should do his job (fifteen because I guessed that there are twelve of us arguing). Imagine trying to deal with all the people Obama has to deal with.

  138. 138
    Michael D. says:

    @A Cat:

    Now if you just had some tips on effective communication of obscure political theories and grammar that would be awesome.

    Lesson one: Commas after “Now” and “grammar.” ;-)

  139. 139
    KG says:

    You know, I have to say, the one thing I’ve really liked about Obama so far, is that he’s leaving the legislating to the legislature. It’s such a drastic course change from the last few administrations. Unlike W who would send a completed bill to Congress and say, “pass this, and only this”; or Clinton who was in the negotiations every step of the way; Obama seems to actually understand how separation of powers works (not surprising since he is a former Constitutional Law professor at one of the best law schools in the country).

    It’s also interesting to watch everyone get so flustered about it: OBAMA’S NOT DOING WHAT HE PROMISED!!!!!!11. But, the system isn’t designed that way, Congress has an actually job it is suppose to do, they don’t work for the president. It takes a little while longer, when the system works the way it was designed, but if I recall the Federalist Papers properly, that’s not a bug, it’s a feature.

    As for some of his more obscene legal arguments (or rather those by the DOJ), that is their job. They’ve got to make the best argument possible that a law (once passed by Congress and signed by the president, even if not the current one) is good law and valid. Now, they might half ass it because they think it’s bad policy, and because they really want the courts to strike it down, but it’s still their job to make the argument. Such is the life of a lawyer.

  140. 140
    bago says:

    @A Cat: You understand that the problem with such a hybrid approach is that it perversely encodes an anti-systemic relativism, right? If you utilize limits that have no mercy, you have a machination. If you extend mercy to the point absurdity you effectively establish a dictatorship (I serve at your mercy, my lord). You have to define procedural rules to ensure enough systemic stability, while allowing for enough causal flexibility to accomodate unforseen events.
    Shit happens.

  141. 141
    bago says:

    @A Cat: So it would be offensive to call you acutey?

  142. 142
    bago says:

    @Michael D.: Talk about excessive commentary.

  143. 143
    Gus says:

    After having read these comments, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not much difference between the local wingnuts who inhabit the comment section of the local newspaper, yelling and pointing at every Obama utterance as proof that he IS the antichrist, and the people on here who supposedly supported him. A fast food drive thru, instant gratification mindset. And to the poster who would let KSM go,because YOU haven’t seen proof of his guilt, you’re a fucking idiot.

  144. 144
    wilfred says:

    Now, they might half ass it because they think it’s bad policy, and because they really want the courts to strike it down, but it’s still their job to make the argument. Such is the life of a lawyer.

    John Woo, just another day at the office.

  145. 145
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    You know, I have to say, the one thing I’ve really liked about Obama so far, is that he’s leaving the legislating to the legislature. It’s such a drastic course change from the last few administrations.

    That 1st six months have answered a question I wondered about last year – how is Obama going to deal with the paradox of needing to dismantle the toxic legacy of the Imperial Presidency constructed by his immediate predecessor, without himself becoming a weak President and being perceived as a failure in office?

    This is not just a hypothetical or academic question. Carter faced the very same problem following in Nixon’s footsteps (with the truncated Ford admin acting as a sort of intermission so the audience could go to the snack bar and the bathroom). Carter was unable to solve this problem, or perhaps you could say he succeeded in diminishing the Presidency at the cost of failing as a President, a cost which we are still paying a steep price for today.

    Now it appears that the answer which Obama and his team have come up with is to try to craft a relationship with Congress which is one of equals, and then to make it work so that both the WH and the Hill get credit for what they accomplish together. But in order to do that he has to work at their pace, he can’t always be the one leading in that dance.

  146. 146
    demimondian says:

    @A Cat:

    Does it ruin your day because a criminal gets to go free or does it ruin your day because it upsets you when someone who took an oath to honor the constitution and laws of your city,state, or country and then violates that oath, jeopardizes a person’s freedom, and violated their rights?

    Yes.

  147. 147
    demimondian says:

    @bago: I though he lived on the wrong side of the lake for that kind of kinky stuff.

  148. 148
    Cassidy says:

    Fuck ‘em

    Actually yeah. The POTUS serves the American public first. The rest can get in line.

    And stop trying to do social experimentation in the military. The reality is this: we have lots of gays serving. They don’t braodcast it, because it is against the rules and they are good troops who abide by the rules, and the rest of us really don’t give a shit. We’re doing fine. We have more important things to do. That doesn’t mean that I don’t welcome a repeal of DADT, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a lot less important.

    Whomever the idiot is above referring to the withdrawal from Iraq, you don’t know what you’re talking about. The drawdown is allready happenning. The new made a big deal the other day of combat units pulling out of cities. The next stop is we’re out of here and no more combat brigades get rotated over. All that’s gonna be left is MTT and advisory units.

    And lastly, gays have not been treated to the level of hate and prejudice that this country has managed to dish out in the past. We still got some wiggle room. It’s much more important to me that people have decent healthcare, than you guys filing your fucking tax returns together. Jesus, get over yourselves.

  149. 149
    Adrienne says:

    @Common Sense:

    We should get an answer before 2012, right?

    Talk to Congress. I’m sure if they passed it he’ll happily sign it.

  150. 150
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: Yes. Nicely put. And this is the key issue:

    …to try to craft a relationship with Congress which is one of equals

    Because, goddammit, that’s what it says in the Constitution.

    You don’t get to the point of having an imperial presidency without the near total failure of Congress as an institution and a judiciary that defers to the executive branch. That’s what we’ve had since the 1980s, and it’s not going to abate under a Roberts Supreme Court. Congress MUST find its institutional spine, and to that end, Obama is willing to show some deference.

    It’s going to be messy, but realignments usually are.

  151. 151
    A Cat says:

    @bago:

    You understand that the problem with such a hybrid approach is that it perversely encodes an anti-systemic relativism, right? If you utilize limits that have no mercy, you have a machination. If you extend mercy to the point absurdity you effectively establish a dictatorship (I serve at your mercy, my lord). You have to define procedural rules to ensure enough systemic stability, while allowing for enough causal flexibility to accomodate unforseen events.
    Shit happens.

    Are you saying that about the presidents plan or my plan to just let the courts handle it and judge the evidence just like they’d judge it if we were accusing them of boosting a car?

    I understand “shit happens”, but its always happening, thats life. The problem is this isn’t a novel and unique situation like people keep trying to portray it as. We have had terrorist attacks against us and people plotting terrorist acts against us before. We have caught them, gathered evidence against them, and took them to trial in our normal court system without breaking the law. Maybe I missed it, but where was the unique situation that forced us to torture these people to gather evidence?

  152. 152
    Molly says:

    Just a question…with all of us sitting here griping on a blog, how many of us are out doing something about it? It’s easy to gripe. A lot harder to work for it. You writing letters to your Congress Critters or calling them? Getting out in the community to talk to people about these issues? Protesting what you don’t agree with? Taking real action and investing yourself in finding solutions and fighting for them?

    Yes, fling the rotten tomatoes at me now.

  153. 153
    Cassidy says:

    @Molly: I’m kinda overseas. Too far to throw honestly.

  154. 154
    Bender says:

    These things upset me, and I am a HUGE Obama supporter. I think the guy can do some amazing things and the world is a better place with him as president but Obama, himself, with own hands, could right about 20% of the wrongs in the world, a bunch of little ones adding up to a lot.

    How far up your own ass do you have to be to write something like this? Do you believe in unicorns, you gullible naif?

    Obama has never done anything in his life but get positions through smooth talk and connections, and then screw up the job he was supposed to do. He’s Chris from the Sopranos. He’s Fredo Corleone. He makes Bush look like a Horatio Alger story.

    Open your eyes — the rest of the country is starting to. The Zero is a miserable failure, he’s breaking most of his campaign promises faster than the media can write them down, and he’s taking the economy down the shitter with him through waste, political cronyism, and blind ignorance.

    Yeah, he can do amazing things, alright. But reading a TelePrompTer hasn’t been much of a help so far, has it?

  155. 155
    A Cat says:

    @bago:

    So it would be offensive to call you acutey?

    Maybe I’m still bewildered after trying to figure out your last post to the point I’m not following you at all, but no I don’t think it would be offensive to call me anything, after all this is the interwebs.

  156. 156
    Johnny B. Guud says:

    The Zero is a miserable failure

    But reading a TelePrompTer hasn’t been much of a help so far, has it?

    Shorter Bender: Please ignore the KICK ME sign on my back while I ramble.

  157. 157
    truculentandunreliable says:

    @Johnny B. Guud: Man, it wouldn’t be so bad if it wasn’t the same shit that I’ve been hearing from conservatives for the last 6 months.

  158. 158
    A Cat says:

    @Molly:

    Just a question…with all of us sitting here griping on a blog, how many of us are out doing something about it? It’s easy to gripe. A lot harder to work for it. You writing letters to your Congress Critters or calling them? Getting out in the community to talk to people about these issues? Protesting what you don’t agree with? Taking real action and investing yourself in finding solutions and fighting for them?

    My wife and I write letters and donate. While I feel strongly enough to personal action, I unfortunately don’t think politcal position is open to a large group of people because we haven’t planned out our lives really well.

    Even with Gov Palin as a shining example of how bouncing around colleges and being demonstrably a liar and imbecile isn’t going to keep you from public office, her interpersonal skills more then make up for that. If you lack those interpersonal skills you have to have to able to withstand a certain level of scrutiny that I don’t think most people can withstand.

    I would love to get involved in more, but not a very good follower or leader so that marginalizes my ability to contribute more.

  159. 159
    KG says:

    @150: the Imperial Presidency goes a lot further back than the 1980s. It’s deepest roots probably go back to Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase, Jackson and the trial of tears (“Mr. Justice Marshall has made his decision, now let him enforce it”), Lincoln suspending habeas corpus, internment camps in both of the World Wars, FDR’s court packing scheme, Truman and the Youngstown Steel case, Kennedy-LBJ-Nixon on Vietnam, and everything that has followed.

    Edit: though I should say, you’re right about the Congress caving to the president. The Court’s deferring to the executive goes a little further back (see court packing, and the Administrative Procedures Act, and the precedent thereunder)

  160. 160
    Tsulagi says:

    @Cassidy:

    All that’s gonna be left is MTT and advisory units.

    Likely a shitload of those.

    So you’re back in that jewel of the ME, that seedpod of democracy? What, couldn’t act crazy or gay enough to get out of that deployment? j/k

    Keep your M4 clean, don’t turn your back to IAs, and may your wakeup come sooner rather than later.

  161. 161
    Polish the Guillotines says:

    @KG: Point well-taken.

  162. 162
    noncarborundum says:

    @Michael D.:

    But first, I want to hear more about this “grammar that would be awesome.”

  163. 163
    Cassidy says:

    @Tsulagi:

    Likely a shitload of those.

    I’m on one. Hooray me. Actually I volunteered for it, because I really believe in what I do.

    And to re-iterate something, in a lot less cranky way; seriously, most of us don’t care. There is a subset of people who are prejudice, obviously. But I guarantee that the majority of them will get washed out, the day they start treating gay’s like shit after DADT is repealed. The reality is that most of us know who the gay and lesbians are amongst us, and it really isn’t significant. Hell my brother is flaming, so I like ot think my gaydar is pretty fine tuned. Half the time the Chain of Command knows, but they look away. Why? Because the troop is a squared away troop and good people are hard to find.

  164. 164
    Cassidy says:

    And for more clarification: for better or worse, Coalition Forces aren’t at the helm anymore. The Iraqi Gov’t has a hard on for getting us out of here, despite the fact that civil war is likely. Just in my province alone, we’re not allowed ot move without IA escort, nad that’s from the IA chain of command. The drawdown is happenning.

  165. 165
    A Cat says:

    @demimondian:

    Yes.

    My mistake, I didn’t take into account the possibility of both being true. Law Enforcement has a disincentive to publicizing when they do the right thing I imagine?

  166. 166
    Tsulagi says:

    @Cassidy:

    The reality is that most of us know who the gay and lesbians are amongst us, and it really isn’t significant…. Half the time the Chain of Command knows, but they look away. Why? Because the troop is a squared away troop and good people are hard to find.

    It’s been that way for a long time.

  167. 167
    Cassidy says:

    It’s been that way for a long time.

    Rock on

  168. 168
    Scott de B. says:

    1. B: Are you kidding me? What has he changed?

    No young-earth creationists doctoring NASA reports. A degree from Liberty University is no longer a ticket to a high administration position. No politicization of science. No horse breeders in charge of FEMA.

  169. 169
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    KG @159

    @150: the Imperial Presidency goes a lot further back than the 1980s.

    A good list of precedents. I think most of them created temporary damage to the balance of power between the Executive Branch and Congress, which was repairable. See for example the post Civil War period up until Woodrow Wilson – TR is the only strong POTUS who comes to mind from that era.

    That changed with two world wars in the early 20th Cen and the expansion in the size of the govt. as a whole and the executive branch in particular during the New Deal and WW2, but to my mind what permanently altered the constitutional balance was the Cold War.

    I understand why for diplomatic and geopolitical reasons we never formally declared war against the Soviet Union (a perogative of Congress which was observed under both FDR and WW in the two world wars), but from a purely constitutional standpoint waging a multi-decadal undeclared war against a powerful adversary was a disaster. It permanently emasculated Congress in a whole variety of areas having to do with foreign affairs and national security, and more recently the gangrene has spread. The War on Drugs and its sequel (Bush’s GWOT) have only made things worse by spreading the secrecy and paranoia that is the sine qua non of both the national security state and unchecked executive power into all sorts of domestic concerns.

    Repairing this damage so as to restore some sort of balance between Congress and the WH is going to be a very long and difficult and delicate process, if it even works. Most likely it won’t, just like how Rome never went back to being a republic after it became an empire. If Obama can repair some of this damage, it may be something that Americans 50-100 years from now will consider one of his most important legacies.

  170. 170
    Biggest says:

    Get over yourself. What is he supposed to do with these people who have been brutilized by Cheany. Don’t you think they now want revenge and will do anything to make it happen. I feel really bad for these guys but they are far to dangerous to let go. My vote for Obama was my vote to trust him. I know there wiil be mistakes, but he is taking it from all sides. Everybody is pissed at him about something. I do not agree with every decision he makes but I much rather have him making them than anyone else.

  171. 171

    You keep doing it. You keep saying the tough cases, the cases we have irrefutable proof that can’t be used in a court of law or we have reliable information that we can’t use. There is a very good possibility, if the evidence is looked at by people who aren’t invested in the case, it may turn out its not reliable after all.
    Are there not enough cases of prosecutors cherry picking experts, intimidating witnesses, or just plain ignoring evidence that conflicts with their views to allow the wedge of skepticism pry open your beliefs a little bit?

    I haven’t the foggiest idea what you’re babbling about here.

    I’ve stated that there are some people being held against whom there is solid evidence that can’t be admitted in court, and you are stating, with nothing to back up your faith but what you wish to be true, that there are not.

    It’s awfully convenient to define away the existence of problems on a comment thread, but the people who actually have to deal with them don’t get to do that.

    Sorry, A Cat, all you’ve done is make it clear that you won’t deal with the world as it is.

  172. 172

    This multi-teir system is going to catch people who are innocent, because they are found guilty in courts who were chosen specifically for their laxer standards of evidence.

    You are confusing the concepts of admissible and conclusive. Are you familiar at all with the phrase “the fruit of the poison tree is poison?”

    Under our system of criminal law, there is a class of evidence that would be excluded even if it is completely reliable, and confirmed by other evidence.

    Holding him as a POW is contortion. KSM isn’t a military regular of either Afghanistan, Iraq, or Korea (Are we technically still at war in Vietnam? I forget).

    There is no requirement that one be a “regular” to be a POW. Why are you arguing the most narrow reading of the law when it’s convenient for you, and then inventing novel doctrines like this?

    Even if he was a POW once the ‘war’ is over he has to be released back to some country, right?

    Yep. The whole list of rights and responsibilities for the treatment of POWs would have to be adhered to.

    Or are you suggesting a War that never ends?

    Do you see me suggesting that anywhere? Save your off-the-shelf arguments for the positions they were invented to counter.

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