Obama Blew It

Update: Greenwald on Obama's latest effort to conceal evidence of Bush era crimes. Dittoheads beware, Greeenwald links to John Aravosis (Obama's logic was "a bit Bushian") Steve Hynd ("Obama Trades Our Principles For Cheneyism") TPM ("Obama falls back on Bushisms") Dan Froomkin ("Obama Joins the Cover-Up"). And as Greenwald points out, "Obama now has new cheer-leaders: Bill Kristol, Michael Goldfarb and Max Boot," and some MyDD commenters below. Note to readers: You're not dittoheads or at least you don't have to be!

This is a trust-breaking moment, President Obama, and you really blew it.

It's not a mistake, it's an assault against this democracy.

That would be President Obama's decision to Obama to block release of detainee photos of torture out of a concern that the photos would "further inflame anti-American opinion."

What is this, a Sister Secrecy moment? Are you trying to prove to America that you're really not an open government, transparency-loving, honest, straight-shooting democrat?

And if you're worried about the troops, get them the hell of out of these two wars in Asia already. Release the photos and then condemn them in the strongest possible terms, singling out the Neocon idiots on whose watch these obscenities happened and who ordered torture to begin with, instead of refusing to investigate and prosecute these war criminals.

Proud of yourself?

From the Times:

The A.C.L.U. sharply criticized the president's decision. In a statement, its executive director, Anthony D. Romero said:

'The Obama administration's adoption of the stonewalling tactics and opaque policies of the Bush administration flies in the face of the president's stated desire to restore the rule of law, to revive our moral standing in the world and to lead a transparent government. This decision is particularly disturbing given the Justice Department's failure to initiate a criminal investigation of torture crimes under the Bush administration.

'It is true that these photos would be disturbing; the day we are no longer disturbed by such repugnant acts would be a sad one. In America, every fact and document gets known - whether now or years from now. And when these photos do see the light of day, the outrage will focus not only on the commission of torture by the Bush administration but on the Obama administration's complicity in covering them up. Any outrage related to these photos should be due not to their release but to the very crimes depicted in them. Only by looking squarely in the mirror, acknowledging the crimes of the past and achieving accountability can we move forward and ensure that these atrocities are not repeated.'


Tags: abu ghraib, ACLU, Article 3 of the Convention Against Torture, Barack Obama presidency, government, human rights, Obama's Way Forward, Politics, Secrecy, Sister Secrecy moment, state secrets, torture (all tags)

Comments

51 Comments

The ACLU

agreed on Chris Matthews that they are fine if these pictures remain behind closed doors as long as the end up in the hands of a special prosecutor.

I can get by with never seeing them as long as some who can prosecute sees them.

So I am with the ACLU.

Rep. Sestak also thinks maybe right now isn't the right time to release these photos with Pakistan teetering on the brink. This isn't saying they should never come out in some form.

by jsfox 2009-05-13 02:40PM | 0 recs
Yeah!

That's it!

Another breaking point!

He's sold us down the river again!

What a jerk!

I love these people who break up with the people they've already broken up with ten times.

We get it.

Move along.

And as jsfox said just above, ACLU and all that.

by Strummerson 2009-05-13 02:51PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

Actually I worked my ass for Obama in Madison.

Anyway, Obama's argument, and Cheney's argument is:

We cannot practice democracy at home by ensuring that the American people have access to IMAGES of facts already known, because we're afraid that sympathizers of torture victims will seek revenge.

What crap. And you sound like a dittohead; we must fall in line behind the leader.

That's what polical scientists refer to as: b-u-l-l-s-h-i-t!

by MAL Contends 2009-05-13 03:39PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

...and you sound like a mock hysterical opportunist who uses PUMA cliches like dittohead.

The point is not who agrees or disagrees with Obama with what frequency.  I have my share of disagreements.  The point is not to become a GOPUMA reflexive auto-outrage machine and make any and every disagreement into the sign of absolute corruption and damnation.

Post as many diaries as you want that lay out why you disagree with this or that decision.  I may agree with many of them.

But this tone is stupid and reeks of either disingenuousness or naivete.  Did you think you were getting a president who would never piss you off?  I didn't.

Now d-i-t-t-o that d-o-o-d-o-o-h-e-a-d.

by Strummerson 2009-05-13 04:15PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

You see in a democracy when a president claims an imperative to secrecy or denial of liberty (like Bush did on a regular basis), this should be received by citizens with outrage.

Just because Obama does it does not make it right.

The tone is perfect if you accept that we live in a classical liberal democracy. You apparently see yourself as more of a subject which is your right.

The Democratic equivalents of dittoheads are lining up behind their leader. Pathetic

by MAL Contends 2009-05-14 02:31AM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

Actually, I too disagree with this decision.  But your histrionic idiocy equates an improper restriction on images to wholesale concealment of promotion of a practice leading to an absurd comparison (Obama = Bush) and an extrapolation from a particular to a general and fundamental indictment.  

Sometimes, it's warranted to call people to the barricades.  More often it makes sense to express dissent through a reasoned argument.  The fact that you cannot tell the difference and instead adopt the terms of the most deranged members of a reflexive opposition undercuts your critique.

I know.  I know.  DEMOCRACY!!!!  FREE SPEECH!!!  HUMAN DIGNITY!!!  Take it down a notch and argue the issue.  But I guess that makes me a "dittohead" and leaves you as the true defender of freedom and humanity.  How lofty your ideals and how compromised are those of everyone else.  Enjoy your grandstand.  

Meanwhile, over at Brit's diary, folks are actually having a critical discussion.

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 05:02AM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

Grandstanding?

by MAL Contends 2009-05-14 12:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

Yes.  Grandstanding.  The absoluteness of your condemnation sets you up on a moral grandstand.  

But look, I recognize your prerogative to be shrill and histrionic.  It depends what you are after.  Maybe we should egg the White House.  I am sure this diary would go over gangbusters at Alegres Corner or the Confluence.

But several others, including myself, who also object to this decision, have panned your diary.  You have responded by grandstanding and slandering us as "dittoheads."  How's that working out for you.  Enjoying the altitude of your moral rectitude?

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 12:14PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

The funny part is you're calling even people who agree with you dittoheads.  It's almost like a parody.

by Jess81 2009-05-14 01:30PM | 0 recs
Re: Yeah!

You don't think that seeing video and pictures of the planes hitting the towers inspired rage when shown?  Not the same thing but if these pictures were leaked we could be planting the seed in the minds of people that have access to terrorism groups that are all too eager to recruit more members.

by selfevident 2009-05-13 07:01PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Blew It

I think you would be better off if you didn't personalize everything.  Support the issues you support - don't make it about people disappointing you.  What, did you think that all you had to do was get someone elected and they would do everything you wanted?

Incidentally, Obama made the same point as a candidate - that people needed to stay organized and on top of things AFTER the election.

by Jess81 2009-05-13 06:27PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Blew It

PUMA: Last refuge of independent critical thought.

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 05:03AM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Blew It

He's not really a PUMA.

by Jess81 2009-05-14 01:10PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Blew It

Then he should stop dealing in PUMA cliches and slanders.

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 02:00PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Blew It

No it's worse: he's an Operation Chaos guy who never left.

by Jess81 2009-05-14 07:32PM | 0 recs
What's Operation Chaos? Looks like I missed

something important ..:)

by louisprandtl 2009-05-14 09:37PM | 0 recs
Re: Obama Blew It

According to this CNN story (http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/05/12/p risoner.photos/index.html) Obama reversed his decision because the military field commanders in the field objected to their release, at least according to speculation by Robert Gates. The concern was that they could inflame anti-American forces and increase the risk to our troops.

I'm not convinced that the release of the photos would have that effect, but I do agree with Obama's reversal in this instance. He needs to build a trusting working relationship with the field commanders and deference to their concerns is a step in that direction. The presence of a new commander in Afghanistan heightens the need to build these working relationships, and the timing indicates to me that this was also a concern.

But, we should keep an eye on this. We can only speculate as to the true motive(s) for this decision right now, and there is certainly potential for reality to be, shall we say, "less encouraging" than my current opinion.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-05-13 07:02PM | 0 recs
Proud of myself

ABSOFREAKINGLUTELY.

by DTOzone 2009-05-13 07:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Proud of myself

Yes, we can't be practicing democracy at home, the terrorists will kill us.

The fearful among us just love to have their liberty taken away, have their own government keep secrets lest the enemy gets us, and then jump in line behind the leader.

Raul Hilberg and Norman Cohn, were they alive today, would look on in disgust at this mob of the unthinking.

That you are proud does not surprise.

by MAL Contends 2009-05-14 03:27AM | 0 recs
lol

when we stop holding free elections, which is the foundation of democracy, because the terrorist will kill us, let me know.

by DTOzone 2009-05-14 10:33AM | 0 recs
Pretty much

I don't see where this diary equates Obama's cover-up with actual promotion of the practice, as some have argued.

Complaints about the tone of this diary seems misplaced and looks like knee-jerk defensiveness to me.

by JJE 2009-05-14 05:59AM | 0 recs
No, not really

Using inflammatory language regarding a very difficult decision made by a new commander-in-chief on behalf of field military commanders in a time of war is not a good tone to set.

Obama wouldn't just cover this stuff up for no reason; further, he isn't hiding the existence of the photos, as Cheney would, he's making a calculation that, if there's a significant chance that the photos' release could damage our military and diplomatic credibility, they don't need to be seen just this minute.

by Dracomicron 2009-05-14 06:26AM | 0 recs
Re: No, not really

Well said, Drac.  I'm not even sure I agree with the term "cover-up."  He's not shredding photos in the Pentagon basement and releasing a new report that torture did not occur.

The fatuous equivalence with Bush makes me ask over and over and over in these threads: If they are really so similar, would you trade Obama for W.?

Just like I want to ask Sarah Palin: Would you trade Obama for Pol Pot?

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 06:37AM | 0 recs
Re: No, not really

That's a good point I hadn't thought of - it's not like the administration of President Cheney, wherein attempts were made to, not just ignore or classify, but destroy all copies of at least one memo challenging the legality of the specific torture methods endorsed by the administration (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2009 /05/did-cheneys-office-coverup-torture-w rong-memo among other reports).

No megadittoes here, but I may still just be glad that somebody else - ANYBODY else - is in charge of the Executive Branch other than the crew we had for the previous 8 years.

And even if I don't see releasing the photos as something that would endanger American lives in Asia any more than they are already, it seems understandable that Obama would want to demonstrate trust and deference to the field commanders (including the spanking-new head of the Afghanistan operations) as new efforts get underway in the region.

It also occurs to me that the President may not want to make something public that could damage the process of re-establishing international goodwill toward the country just as that process is getting underway. Sure, releasing the photos now could enhance the international perception of more transparency, but could also make newly and slowly improving opinions of us turn sour all over again.

I might feel more cynically if months turn to years and the photos remain closed to public view and inaccessible to anyone trying to investigate the Bush administration's use of these 'harsh interrogation' techniques. But in the end, the courts might make it all irrelevant by taking the decision out of the President's hands anyway.

by RecoveringRepublican 2009-05-14 06:52AM | 0 recs
Re: No, not really

Careful.  You are about to be accused of being a groupthink echochamber apologist and messianic minion of the Obama cult.  You might also be called a dittohead.  That's what qualifies as critical dissent to some.

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 06:56AM | 0 recs
Well

I wouldn't make that charge.  However, when people justify this using rhetoric like:

a new commander-in-chief on behalf of field military commanders in a time of war

It's not hard to see why people might find that a tad Bush-esque.

by JJE 2009-05-14 07:58AM | 0 recs
Alright

We could just tell the historical record to imply that we were in two wars, I suppose.

The difference between Bush's use of the war and Obama's is that Bush was trying to ramrod policy with patriotism, while Obama is apparently actually concerned with the well-being of the troops.

by Dracomicron 2009-05-14 08:23AM | 0 recs
I suppose

I am not a big fan of arguments dependent on assumptions about the innermost thoughts of decision makers (Obama cares about the troops but it was just a pretext for Bush).

The end result is a bad one, and you apparently agree that it was.  I'm more concerned about being in hell than whether we got there via a path paved with good intentions or bad.

by JJE 2009-05-14 10:32AM | 0 recs
Re: I suppose

You make a good point, and it applies to the current diary as well.  The central premise is "Obama is a bad, bad man", which is why it's getting panned, while the million other diaries on the subject aren't.  One is all about personalities and motives, the rest are actually about the issue at hand.

by Jess81 2009-05-14 07:25PM | 0 recs
Future court decision

I would say the courts ruling that they should be released would be our system "working as intended."  I doubt Obama would object in the slightest.

by Dracomicron 2009-05-14 07:20AM | 0 recs
That's probably his goal

let the courts overrule him. Didn't he do this already before?

by DTOzone 2009-05-14 10:06AM | 0 recs
Re: Do you mean the ACLU lawsuit?

In Sept. 2008, the US Court of Appeals ruled that the photos had to be made public. Bush asked to have the case reheard and was denied, in March 2009.  So, the courts have already ordered that the photos be made public.  

by half nelson 2009-05-14 11:34AM | 0 recs
so then why are the courts hearing this again?

Did they grant it another hearing?

My point is he's punting any potential blowback to the courts instead of his administration. If Pakistan falls because of the uproar this photos cause, the blame will lie on the courts, not the administration.

by DTOzone 2009-05-14 12:03PM | 0 recs
Re: Not sure.

The DOD had agreed to release the photos by May 28.  Obama wishes to prevent that but I have not yet heard how he will do so.  Last I read, Gates was assessing his options with lawyers.  I guess we'll hear more in the next few days.  Maybe a Friday news dump is in imminent.  

by half nelson 2009-05-14 01:04PM | 0 recs
Not a good tone?

This is just a blog.  I don't see why we should care so much about the tone of this diary.

Difficult or no, this is a pretty outrageous decision.  There's no good reason for withholding this except that the generals want it so.  That's a terrible precedent and we should expect better.

What damages our credibility more than releasing these photos is covering up torture that eveyone knows we engaged in.

People are giving Obama a pass on this as well as DADT because "this is a bad time."  There is never going to be a good time.  Better to bite the bullet.

by JJE 2009-05-14 07:54AM | 0 recs
Once again

Nobody's "covering up torture."  Well, at least nobody currently in charge.  Like you just said, "everyone" knows we engaged in it.  The cat's out of the bag.  Obama let it out of the bag, first thing.  The question now is whether we throw gasoline on the fire, or have a controlled burn.

I agree with you that it would be preferable just to release the information.  But I'm not the President.  I'm not in charge of millions of lives and thousands of soldiers.  I don't have the whole picture.  I know enough about Obama, however, to know that he doesn't make important decisions like these half-cocked.

by Dracomicron 2009-05-14 08:19AM | 0 recs
I'm sure he thought about it carefully

but he nevertheless reached the wrong conclusion and deserves criticism.  This isn't a complete coverup but it is a partial one.  Back when Bush was refusing to release photos of coffins of dead soldiers coming back from Iraq, that wasn't a "cover up" - everyone knew soldiers were being killed - but it was objectionable nonetheless.

by JJE 2009-05-14 10:27AM | 0 recs
It's not even a partial cover up

A cover up would be refusing to admit the pictures exist or what's in them.

You may be against the decision, but he's not covering anything up.

by DTOzone 2009-05-14 10:31AM | 0 recs
Cover up or no

It's certainly not full disclosure.  That, not semantics, is the important point.

by JJE 2009-05-14 10:37AM | 0 recs
I don't expect full discloure for the government

never did, never will.

by DTOzone 2009-05-14 12:04PM | 0 recs
A shame

Such attitudes may be part of why they think they can get away with this.  I think the government should be expected to fully disclose what they do with our money in our names, absent compelling justification not to, which is not present here.

by JJE 2009-05-14 12:31PM | 0 recs
A good "how-to" diary!

Start with some tasty appeals to authority, toss in some crunchy-salty hyperbole and simmer over slow-rage.

Sprinkle lightly with Puma Flakes(tm) and serve!

Bon Apetit!

by Sully Fick 2009-05-14 10:38AM | 0 recs
Appeal to Authority

by JJE 2009-05-14 10:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Appeal to Authority

Ouch!

I am unable to compete against your thoughtful and extremely well-written response.  You obviously did a lot of research to rebut my points in a painstaking, but thorough, manner.

Truly, you have a dizzying intellect.

by Sully Fick 2009-05-14 11:00AM | 0 recs
I vote Wallace Shawn

for President.  Let's depose Obama and put Shawn in.  

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 11:03AM | 0 recs
Re: I vote Wallace Shawn

Elect Shawn/Patinkin!

Imagine the jokes they could do at the WHCD!  And, rather than press conferences, they could do skits.  With running gags...

Like, Wallace starts with "We're concerned that this might inflame Anti-American sentiment and put our troops at risk".  And, then JJE yells from the back row "You keep using that word" (in an Inigo Montoya voice), and Mandy glares at JJE and says "You seem a decent fellow, I'd hate to kill you" while drawing his sword.  Then, JJE runs out through the kitchen, and Mandy pretends he's fencing with JJE and keeps saying over and over: "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die."

Hilarity ensues.

by Sully Fick 2009-05-14 11:20AM | 0 recs
Re: I vote Wallace Shawn

I'd leave Mandy out.  He's supposed to be a raving prima donna.

But Wallace Shawn would commit serious resources to avaunt garde theater.  That's what this country needs.

by Strummerson 2009-05-14 11:24AM | 0 recs
I couldn't agree more! n/t

by Sully Fick 2009-05-14 11:53AM | 0 recs
Thanks!

But I surmised that you would see your error by simply reading the Wikipedia article you linked, so I didn't feel the need to add to your embarrassment by spelling it out for you.  I'm glad my concern for your reputation was appreciated.

by JJE 2009-05-14 11:25AM | 0 recs
Re: Thanks!

My humor is entirely lost here, it seems.

My comment was about the ENTIRE diary - including the comments.  Both sides of the comments.  All of the comments.  You know, the whole thing.  Each word.  Every word.  Get it?

Ya see, the "Appeals to Authority" part was about the diarist, AND the comments.  The "Hyperbole" part was also about the diarist, AND the co...

Oh, forget it.

If you have to explain the joke, it just isn't funny.  ;(

by Sully Fick 2009-05-14 11:50AM | 0 recs
I see

humor can be difficult to pull off in the blog format.  That's why sometimes it's best to stick to YouTube vids.

by JJE 2009-05-14 12:29PM | 0 recs

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