Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019 February 2019 March 2019 April 2019 May 2019 June 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Monday, March 23, 2009

Good Obama Meets Bad Obama Mid-Answer

by dday

Barack Obama says all the right things in this riposte to Dick Cheney about Guantanamo, right up until the point where he makes a distinction between terrorist suspects and suspects of any other criminal stripe:

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I fundamentally disagree with Dick Cheney. Not surprisingly. You know, I think that-- Vice President Cheney has been-- at the head of a-- movement whose notion is somehow that we can't reconcile our core values, our Constitution, our belief that we don't torture, with our national security interests. I think he's drawing the l-- wrong lesson from history.

The facts don't bear him out. I think he is-- that attitude, that philosophy has done incredible damage-- to our image and position in the world. I mean, the fact of the matter is after all these years how many convictions actually came out of Guantanamo? How many-- how many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn't made us safer. What it has been is a great advertisement for anti-American sentiment. Which means that there is constant effective recruitment of-- Arab fighters and Muslim fighters against U.S. interests all around the world.

STEVE KROFT: Some of it being organized by a few people who were released from Guantanamo.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well there is no doubt that-- we have not done a particularly effective job in sorting through who are truly dangerous individuals that we've got to-- make sure are not a threat to us, who are folks that we just swept up. The whole premise of Guantanamo promoted by Vice President Cheney was that somehow the American system of justice was not up to the task of dealing with these terrorists.

I fundamentally disagree with that. Now-- do these folks deserve Miranda rights? Do they deserve to be treated like a shoplifter-- down the block? Of course not.

STEVE KROFT: What do you do with those people?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think we're going to have to figure out a mechanism to make sure that they not released and do us harm. But-- do so in a way that is consistent with both our traditions, sense of due process, international law. But this is-- this is the legacy that's been left behind. And, you know, I'm surprised that-- the Vice President is eager-- to defend-- a legacy that was unsustainable. Let's assume that we didn't change these practices. How-- how long are we going to go? Are we going to just keep on going until-- you know, the entire Muslim world and Arab world-- despises us? Do we think that's really going to make us safer? I-- I don't know-- a lot of thoughtful thinkers, liberal or conservative-- who think that that was the right approach.

If Obama could spend every day reacting to Dick Cheney quotes, I imagine it would please him and his staff greatly. But he could have ended with the fundamental disagreement that the American justice system is not up to the task of dealing with terrorists. But I guess politics intruded, or some knee-jerk reaction toward moderation, and Obama makes a truly puzzling hedge, that terrorist don't deserve to be treated like shoplifters. On the grounds of their post-conviction sentence, that makes perhaps some sense, and maybe on bail being set, but not at all on the grounds of anything else. You cannot set up parallel justice systems, that's the entire point of disagreeing that it's insufficient to deal with terrorists. A process of indefinite detention with good intentions remains a flawed process.

This is a troubling pattern. I mean, continued airstrikes against Al Qaeda suspects in Pakistan may be legally justifiable. They may be consistent with international norms. They may even be effective in the short term. But they inspire the exact same passions among the citizenry being bombed, especially when those bombs are errant and hit things like wedding parties and peaceful villages, that Obama condemned Dick Cheney for inspiring with his indefinite detention and torture process at Guantanamo. Since entering office Obama has stepped up the unmanned Predator drone attacks dramatically, in a continuum with the Bush Administration's practice after Pervez Musharraf left office. The strategic consequences are not only immense but PRECISELY AS OBAMA OUTLINED with respect to Guantanamo. Obama seems mindful of the long-term strategic impact of engaging the Muslim world and winning the battle of public opinion, and yet there are very legitimate consequences to airstrikes that can kill civilians, anger populations, and disrupt political dynamics in an unstable country. In fact, that's supposed to be WHY we're sending more troops to Afghanistan.

Colin Cookman writes:

While these strikes may bear some meaningful short- and medium-term successes, as a long-term strategy their value is less clear. Research from the RAND Corporation into the case histories of 648 terrorist organizations that carried out attacks between 1968 and 2006 found that only 7 percent were successfully eliminated through direct military force. This is in contrast to 43 percent who dropped their violent activities after some form of political accommodation and 40 percent who were broken up successfully through some combination of local policing, infiltration, and prosecution.

I imagine that the President has weighed the costs and benefits and decided that short-term disruptions in Al Qaeda leadership are worth the price. And there's the time-honored Democratic practice of "looking tough" in the White House. But the dissonance between the stated vision and reality is a little bit hard to swallow.