(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
This isn’t the first time, Obama has resembled Bush. It seems to becoming a trend. The longer President Obama is in the White House, the more his administration will use the arguments and precedents set by Bush.
Obama is proving Dick Cheney right when he told Rush Limbaugh back in December:
“Once they get here and they’re faced with the same problems we deal with every day, then they will appreciate some of the things we’ve put in place.”
Reminiscent of Cheney’s secret meetings to formulate an energy plan with oil executives that led to the Iraq war, the LA Times reports the Obama White House declines to disclose visits by health industry executives. Certainly not the kind of transparency to government that candidate Barack Obama promised before he was elected as president.
And to add further insult to the American voters who put him in office, the Secret Service is using the same argument the Bush administration used to keep their goings-on away from public scrutiny.
The LA Times reports:
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington sent a letter to the Secret Service asking about visits from 18 executives representing health insurers, drug makers, doctors and other players in the debate. The group wants the material in order to gauge the influence of those executives in crafting a new healthcare policy.
The Secret Service sent a reply stating that documents revealing the frequency of such visits were considered presidential records exempt from public disclosure laws. The agency also said it was advised by the Justice Department that the Secret Service was within its rights to withhold the information because of the “presidential communications privilege.”
This isn’t the first time, the Obama administration blocked a CRE request for records of people visiting the White House. CRE “already has sued the administration over its failure to release details about visits from coal industry executives.”
Candidate “Obama vowed that in devising a healthcare bill he would invite in TV cameras — specifically C-SPAN — so that Americans could have a window into negotiations that normally play out behind closed doors.” But, I guess promises for transparancy is part of the elaborate 6-dimensional rope-a-dope the president used to get elected.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” said Anne Weismann, the group’s chief counsel. Obama is relying on a legal argument that “continues one of the bad, anti-transparency, pro-secrecy approaches that the Bush administration had taken. And it seems completely at odds with the president’s commitment . . . to bring a new level of transparency to his government.”
But, that’s not all. Yesterday, the Obama administration said it would miss their own self-imposed deadlines to decide what to do with the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. These people, the administration believes, are “too dangerous to release”, but yet “cannot be tried”. The delays make it doubtful Obama will keep his promise to close the prison camp within a year.
A commentary in the Washington Independent by Daphne Eviatar suggests that Obama may seek the authority outlined by Bush’s attorney general.
It’s been exactly one year since then-Attorney General Michael Mukasey proposed in a speech at the American Enterprise Institute that Congress pass legislation declaring a new, expanded war with al-Qaeda and the Taliban – thereby granting the president the authority to detain indefinitely members of those groups anywhere in the world where they’re found.
That proposal from a lame-duck Attorney General never got very far with the Democratic-controlled Congress. But a year later, the country is still debating that exact same detention authority. And news reports suggest that President Obama may seek precisely the same sort of authority that Mukasey was talking about.
Add to this the NY Times reporting that ordering an inquiry on torture poses a tough choice for Attorney General Eric Holder. What is so freaking hard about ordering an investigation? What is Obama and Holder afraid might be found? We already know the Bush administration committed war crimes. They bragged about the fact on American television! But still:
There is no surprise then that Mr. Holder is said by officials to have been resistant at first to the idea of appointing a prosecutor, particularly since the Obama administration has made it clear that it wants to put the issue of interrogation practices during the Bush administration behind it. But associates have said he told them that he reacted with disgust when he recently read graphic accounts of interrogations in a 2004 C.I.A. inspector general’s report to be publicly released next month…
Mr. Holder’s choice is not simply a prosecutorial judgment. President Obama has said criminal acts should be prosecuted, but he has also warned that he does not want his administration distracted from its ambitious agenda by backward-looking inquiries.
This kind of “ambitious agenda” nonsense is precisely the weak logic that President Bill Clinton administration used in 1993 to sweep the Iran-Contra investigations under the White House rug. His timid display of weakness rehabilitated the Bush family name and set the Republicans up for massive electoral gains in 1994.
There is no future for the “ambitious agenda” or Obama or the United States, frankly, without investigating the Bush administration’s war crimes and prosecuting those individuals when evidence merits trials.
The president needs to stop sucking up to Goldman Sachs and start keeping the hard promises he made. I’ll admit he’s doing really good at keeping the promises I didn’t favor, the easy ones to keep like bombing Afghanistan and Pakistan. But so far, I’ve not seen little that Obama has done that any other Democrat in the White House would not have done. I’m looking for an Obama spark — a reason why Americans voted for Obama instead of Clinton or the other Democrats. I’m still looking for his own personal stamp of leadership.
I’ve tried to resist being pre-cynical about the Obama presidency, but after six months I’m getting worn down from ‘hope fatigue’. I hope Obama keep his campaign promises and Holder will do the right thing and investigate the Bush administration’s war crimes. But, I can only ‘hope’ for so long.