Up Date 11/3/2017 16:00: Over at The Daily Beast, Spenser Ackerman has weighed in on today’s events noting that even though Baker has been freed from his confinement, his contempt conviction still stands and that did not sit well with WAShington, DC Federal Judge Royce Lamberth. Shortly before attorneys for Baker arrived in federal court …
Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when
we’re not too hungover we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.
(Truth be told, friends, we’re really not that disorganized; the fact that we’ve managed to put this series together and stick with it disabuses the notion that we’re disorganized, right? Also, I wish I had a censored night once in awhile, but alas, this is something my producers made me say.)
This Day in History
In a Federal court in New York City, the son in law of Osama bin Laden was convicted on Wednesday of conspiring to kill Americans and providing material support to terrorists. Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, the most senior advisers to bin Laden, was captured in Aman, Jordan last year after leaving Turkey on his way back to his home in Yemen. Mr Abu Ghaith’s trial was one of the first prosecutions of senior al-Qaeda leaders on US soil.
Since 9/11, 67 foreign terror suspects have been convicted in US federal courts, according to data obtained by the group Human Rights First.
Mr. Abu Ghaith, a 48-year-old Kuwaiti-born cleric known for his fiery oratory, had recorded impassioned speeches for Bin Laden after Sept. 11, in which he praised the attacks and promised that future attacks would be carried out.
His conviction on all three counts – and the lightning speed from his arrest to verdict – would seem to serve as a rejoinder to critics of the Obama administration’s efforts to try suspected terrorists in civilian court, rather than before a military tribunal. [..]
The jury returned its verdict on its second day of deliberations in the trial, which had entered its third week in United States District Court in Manhattan. Mr. Abu Ghaith was convicted of conspiracy to kill Americans, for which he could face life in prison; and providing material support to terrorists, as well as conspiring to do so, counts that each carry maximum terms of 15 years.
Mr. Abu Ghaith was asked to rise as the judge’s deputy clerk, Andrew Mohan, read the verdict aloud, and the defendant appeared impassive as the word “guilty” was repeated three times.
Mr. Abu Ghaith is being held in the Manhattan federal detention facility awaiting sentencing.
Who was it that said that terrorists should not be tried in civilian courts?
Some US lawmakers disagreed with the decision to try Mr Abu Ghaith in New York.
“When we find somebody like this, this close to Bin Laden and the senior al-Qaeda leadership, the last thing in the world we want to do, in my opinion, is put them in a civilian court,” said Republican Senator Lindsey Graham on Thursday.
“This man should be in Guantanamo Bay,” he said.
Lindsey? We can’t hear you. Oh! And crickets from fear mongering in chief Rep. Peter King (R=NY) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who poo-pooed the idea that any of the 9/11 terrorists should be tried in any civilian court,let alone one in New York City.
The system works. Now, close the Guantanamo detention facility and end the sham military tribunals.
The prisoners on trial before military tribunal at Guantanamo for their attacks on the United States are unable to present evidence that they were tortured by the CIA even though they are facing the death penalty. This is what has been happening:
On Tuesday, October 22, the lawyers for the September 11 accused argued that the Guantanamo military commissions’ protective order (pdf) violates the United Nations Convention Against Torture. The protective order states that the defendant’s “observations and experiences” of torture at CIA black sites are classified. Defense counsel say that this violates the Convention Against Torture’s requirement that victims of torture have “a right to complain” to authorities in the countries where they are tortured, and makes the commission into “a co-conspirator in hiding evidence of war crimes.”
It is not only the defendants’ lawyers who object to the protective order. The ACLU has called the restrictions on detainees’ testimony “chillingly Orwellian.” Earlier this year, the Constitution Project’s bipartisan, independent Task Force on Detainee Treatment (for which I served as staff investigator) found that the military commissions’ censorship of detainees’ descriptions of their own torture could not be justified on grounds of national security, and violated “the public’s First Amendment right of access to those proceedings, the detainees’ right to counsel, and counsel’s First Amendment rights.” This month, the European Parliament passed a resolution that called on the United States “to stop using draconian protective orders which prevent lawyers acting for Guantánamo Bay detainees from disclosing information regarding any detail of their secret detention in Europe.”
The reason the prisoners are being denies their rights to present the evidence of torture, even though they are facing the death penalty, is this:
In April 2009, over the CIA’s objections, Obama declassified four Office (pdf) of Legal (pdf) Counsel (pdf) (OLC) (pdf) opinions that described in graphic detail the brutal techniques that the CIA used against captives after September 11, because in his judgment their release was “required by the rule of law.”
But today, the administration takes the position (pdf) that the release of the OLC memos only declassified the CIA’s use of torturous interrogation techniques “in the abstract.” The details of any individual detainee’s treatment in CIA custody are still top secret. The CIA claims this is necessary because disclosures about individual interrogations would “provide future terrorists with a guidebook on how to evade such questioning,” and “provide ready-made ammunition for al-Qa’ida propaganda.”
The one thing that the defense lawyers, the prosecutors and the judges all agree on, President Barack Obama could fix this.
Paul Kiel – January 30, 2008, 4:12 PM EST
Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) said that he’d been getting the impression that Mukasey really thought about torture in relative terms, and wanted to know if that was so. Is it OK to waterboard someone if a nuclear weapon was hidden — the Jack Bauer scenario — but not OK to waterboard someone for more pedestrian information?
Mukasey responded that it was “not simply a relative issue,” but there “is a statute where it is a relative issue,” he added, citing the Detainee Treatment Act. That law engages the “shocks the conscience” standard, he explained, and you have to “balance the value of doing something against the cost of doing it.”
What digby said:
So basically, while we “do not torture” we have admitted “in the abstract” that we did torture, but if any of those tortured reveal the details of that torture the terrorists of the future will know how we torture and learn how to evade it. So we’re obviously still torturing. Am I missing something?>
No, digby, you didn’t miss a thing.
At a press conference, Pres. Obama answered questions about the closing of Guantanamo detention center and the hunger strike that started almost a month ago and now involves 100 of the 166 detainees. “I don’t want these individuals to die,” Obama said, “Obviously the Pentagon is trying to manage the situation as best as they can. But I think all of us should reflect on why exactly are we doing this? Why are we doing this?”
Force feeding isn’t the answer, it violates their human rights. In a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, the American Medical Association stated that “force feeding of detainees violates core ethical values of the medical profession.”
In the letter (AMA President Dr. Jeremy) Lazarus advised Hagel that the AMA opposes force-feeding a detainee who is competent to decide for himself whether he wants to eat.
“Every competent patient has the right to refuse medical intervention, including life-sustaining interventions,” Lazarus said, adding that the AMA took the same position on force-feeding Guantánamo prisoners in 2009 and 2005.
“The AMA has long endorsed the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo, which is unequivocal on the point: ‘Where a prisoner refuses nourishment and is considered by the physician as capable of forming an unimpaired and rational judgment concerning the consequences of such a voluntary refusal of nourishment, he or she shall not be fed artificially.’
The procedure is carried out by corpsmen, enlisted sailors trained to carry out medical procedures, usually supervised by a doctor or a nurse. It is unknown who determines which prisoner is to be force fed. The prisoner is strapped to a chair and his head, arms and legs restrained. A feeding tube is forced through the nose into the stomach and liquid nutrient (Ensure) is poured through the tube. This can be quite painful since it is being done involuntarily.
In an article at FDL’s Dissenter, Kevin Gosztola enumerated the actions Pres. Obama could have taken and didn’t
At any moment in the past months, Obama could have, according to Human Rights First, appointed “a high-level White House official with responsibility to ensure timely and effective implementation of the president’s plan to close Guantanamo.” It has not been done. Obama could have directed the secretary of defense, in “concurrence with the secretary of state and in consultation with the director of national intelligence, to certify detainee transfers and issue national security waivers, to the fullest extent possible consistent with applicable law.” To the public’s knowledge, that has not been attempted.
Obama tied his hand behind his back when the executive branch issued a moratorium on releasing Yemeni prisoners. Ninety of the 166 prisoners in Guantanamo are Yemeni. Twenty-five of the Yemeni prisoners have been cleared for release by Obama’s own review task force he had setup by executive order in 2009.
The Yemen government is demanding Yemeni prisoners be returned to Yemen. Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, president of Yemen, has said, “We believe that keeping someone in prison for over 10 years without due process is clear-cut tyranny. The United States is fond of talking democracy and human rights. But when we were discussing the prisoner issue with the American attorney general, he had nothing to say.”
Obama could direct the secretary of defense to initiate Periodic Review Board (PRB) hearings that were supposed to take place to determine if prisoners no longer posed a threat. As HRF described, “The executive order mandated that each detainee shall have an initial review, consisting of a PRB hearing, no later than March 7, 2012. Yet, nearly nine months after the deadline, not even a single PRB hearing is known to have been completed.”
Amy Goodman at Democracy Now! spoke with Carlos Warner, an attorney with the Federal Public Defender of the Northern District of Ohio, who represents 11 Guantánamo prisoners.
Full transcript is here
“Unfortunately, they’re held because the president has no political will to end Guantánamo,” Warner says. “The president has the authority to transfer individuals if he believes that it’s in the interests of the United States. But he doesn’t have the political will to do so because 166 men in Guantánamo don’t have much pull in the United States. But the average American on the street does not understand that half of these men, 86 of the men, are cleared for release.”
Now, Obama does need Congress’ help to close Gitmo. He needs Congress’ help (though didn’t, when Eric Holder initially decided to try the 9/11 plotters in NY) to try the actual terrorists in civilian courts, to get them in Florence SuperMax in cells down the hall from Faisal Shahzad and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, whom he cites.
But most of the detainees at Gitmo won’t ever be tried in civilian courts, either because they were tortured so badly they couldn’t be tried without also admitting we tortured them (and, presumably, try the torturers), or because we don’t have a case against them.
Trying detainees who don’t pose a threat in civilian courts won’t solve the problem as they’re not guilty of any crime.
Moreover, Obama dodges what his Administration has done himself to keep detainees in Gitmo, notably the moratorium on transferring detainees to Yemen and the appeals of Latif and Uthman’s habeas cases so as to have the legal right to keep people based solely on associations and obviously faulty intelligence documents.
Obama doesn’t mention that part of Gitmo’s legacy. Obama says 10 years have elapsed and we should be able to move beyond the fear keeping men at Gitmo.
3 years have elapsed since he issued the moratorium on Yemeni transfers; 19 months have elapsed since he killed Anwar al-Awlaki, purportedly (though not really) the big threat in Yemen. It’s time to move on in Yemen, as well as generally.
Congress may have blocked Pres. Obama from closing the prison, which he signed into law, it didn’t stop him from treating those who are there humanely with dignity, especially those who have been held with no trails because there is no evidence to charge them. But force feeding the hunger strikers because he doesn’t want them to die? Outrageous. How about stop treating those who can be released as prisoners, let them contact their families through the Red Cross. Better yet let those who can go home.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Couch’s friend died co-piloting the second plane to hit the World Trade Center. Soon after, Couch became one of the first military prosecutors assigned to the U.S. military base at Guantánamo Bay to prosecute men alleged to have carried out the terrorist plot. He ultimately would refuse to prosecute one detainee: Mohamedou Ould Slahi. “It became clear that what had been done to Slahi amounted to torture,” Couch says. “Specifically, he had been subjected to a mock execution. He had sensory deprivation. He had environmental manipulation; that is, cell is too cold, or the cell is too hot. … He was presented with a ruse that the United States had taken custody of his mother and his brother and that they were being brought to Guantánamo.” Couch says he concluded Slahi’s treatment amounted to illegal torture. “I came to the conclusion we had knowingly set him up for mental suffering in order for him to provide information,” Couch said. “We might very well have a significant problem with the body of evidence that we were able to present as to his guilt.”
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit overturned the conviction of Salim Ahmed Hamdan for providing material support for terrorism. Hamdan, a Yemeni, was captured in Afghanistan in 2001
The court ruled that the conviction could not stand because ,at the time of Handan’s conviction “under the international law of war in effect at the time of his actions, there was no such defined war crime”:
The Military Commission Act, a law passed in 2006, does not authorize such retroactive prosecutions, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled. [..]
The ruling called into question whether other Guantanamo detainees accused of being part of Al Qaeda but not of plotting any specific terrorist attack can receive military trials.
The opinion was written by Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who worked as a lawyer in the White House for President George W. Bush before he was appointed to the bench. His opinion was largely joined by Chief Judge David Sentelle and Judge Douglas Ginsburg, appointees of Ronald Reagan.
Zachary Katznelson, senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the decision “strikes the biggest blow yet against the legitimacy of the Guantánamo military commissions, which have for years now been trying people for a supposed war crime that in fact is not a war crime at all.” He said the government should prosecute in civilian courts any Guantánamo prisoners against whom it has enough admissible evidence.
There are two additional issues I would like to highlight today that are not addressed by the Committee bill that we believe should be considered. The first is the offense of material support for terrorism or terrorist groups. While this is a very important offense in our counterterrorism prosecutions in Federal court under title 18 of the U.S. Code, there are serious questions as to whether material support for terrorism or terrorist groups is a traditional violation of the law of war. The President has made clear that military commissions are to be used only to prosecute law of war offenses. Although identifying traditional law of war offenses can be a difficult legal and historical exercise, our experts believe that there is a significant risk that appellate courts will ultimately conclude that material support for terrorism is not a traditional law of war offense, thereby reversing hard-won convictions and leading to questions about the system’s legitimacy.
The DC court agreed:
First, despite Hamdan’s release from custody, this case is not moot. This is a direct appeal of a conviction. The Supreme Court has long held that a defendant’s direct appeal of a conviction is not mooted by the defendant’s release from custody.
Second, consistent with Congress’s stated intent and so as to avoid a serious Ex Post Facto Clause issue, we interpret the Military Commissions Act of 2006 not to authorize retroactive prosecution of crimes that were not prohibited as war crimes triable by military commission under U.S. law at the time the conduct occurred. Therefore, Hamdan’s conviction may be affirmed only if the relevant statute that was on the books at the time of his conduct – 10 U.S.C. § 821 – encompassed material support for terrorism.
Third, when Hamdan committed the relevant conduct from 1996 to 2001, Section 821 of Title 10 provided that military commissions may try violations of the “law of war.” The “law of war” cross-referenced in that statute is the international law of war. See Quirin, 317 U.S. at 27-30, 35-36. When Hamdan committed the conduct in question, the international law of war proscribed a variety of war crimes, including forms of terrorism. At that time, however, the international law of war did not proscribe material support for terrorism as a war crime. Indeed, the Executive Branch acknowledges that the international law of war did not – and still does not – identify material support for terrorism as a war crime. Therefore, the relevant statute at the time of Hamdan’s conduct – 10 U.S.C. § 821 – did not proscribe material support for terrorism as a war crime.
Because we read the Military Commissions Act not to retroactively punish new crimes, and because material support for terrorism was not a pre-existing war crime under 10 U.S.C. § 821, Hamdan’s conviction for material support for terrorism cannot stand. We reverse the judgment of the Court of Military Commission Review and direct that Hamdan’s conviction for material support for terrorism be vacated.
This ruling could obviously effect the convictions and prosecutions of other Guantánamo detainees. The Administration has yet to announce whether it will appeal, I suspect that they will try.
Another right further diminished by the Supreme Court.
One day before the fourth anniversary of Boumediene v. Bush, which held that detainees being held indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay have the right to challenge their confinement in federal court, the Supreme Court denied review (pdf) of seven detainee cases that were pending before the court. The decision not to review any of the cases essentially makes the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit the last stop for detainees seeking habeas corpus. While many detainees won their habeas corpus cases at the trial court level, no detainees have been released from Guantanamo due to these decisions because the DC Circuit has a perfect record of reversing these decisions.
Although today’s action does not have any precedential force, it undercuts the extent to which detainees can seriously challenge their detention by leaving the D.C. Circuit’s pro-detention decisions in place [..]
Marcy Wheeler @ emptywheel explains what the Supreme Court has just blessed:
Holding a person indefinitely for being in the wrong place at the wrong time-including a school, a road, and a guest house-where suspect people are.
Holding a person indefinitely based on an admittedly error-ridden report the government wrote up itself.
Holding a person indefinitely based on pattern analysis.
Completely upending the role of District Court judges in the fact-finding process.
The Justices have abdicated their responsibility to an ever more powerful Executive branch:
Especially deserving of review was a petition by Adnan Latif, a Yemeni who was captured near the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan in December 2001. Latif said he had traveled to Pakistan to seek medical treatment; the U.S. government insisted that he was a fleeing Taliban fighter.
A federal district judge ruled in Latif’s favor, concluding that, because of possible transcription and other errors, a government report of an interview with him was “not sufficiently reliable to support a finding by a preponderance of the evidence that Latif was recruited by an Al Qaeda member or trained and fought with the Taliban.” Overturning that finding, the D.C. Circuit ruled that the government’s evidence was entitled to “a presumption of regularity” and that lower court judges should require that a detainee’s “self-serving account must be credible – not just plausible.” In her opinion, Circuit Judge Janice Rogers Brown (a former California Supreme Court justice) approvingly cited dissents in the Boumediene case and referred snidely to its impracticality and “airy suppositions.” [..]
Dissenting in the Latif case, Judge David Tatel described the decision as an “assault on Boumediene.” At the very least, the ruling called for a full-fledged review by the Supreme Court. Instead, the justices have abdicated their authority and devalued their own achievement.
On Saturday MSNBC’s Chris Hayes aired an exclusive taped interview with former Guantanamo detainee Lakhdar Boumediene. Boumediene, , a citizen of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was arrested with five Algerian men in Bosnia in October, 2001 and charged with plotting to blow up the American embassy in Sarajevo. He was held for seven years at Guantanamo without charges or explanation. Boumediene was the lead plaintiff in Boumediene v. Bush, a 2008 U.S. Supreme Court decision that Guantanamo detainees have the right to file writs of habeas corpus in U.S. federal courts. He and the five other detainees were released from Guantanamo on May 15, 2009 after a US Federal Judge found that “the Bush administration relied on insufficient evidence to imprison them indefinitely as ‘enemy combatants.
Through a translator, Boumediene explains life as a Guantanamo prisoner, about his torture, and his life after his release.
WASHINGTON-After two years of false starts and protracted legal wrangling, President Barack Obama signed an executive order Tuesday authorizing the transfer of all 172 Guantánamo detainees to the next chief executive of the United States of America.
“The president’s bold decision to move these enemy combatants to the subsequent administration should finally quiet critics who have accused him of inaction and impotence concerning this issue,” White House press secretary Jay Carney said after noting that Obama had-in favor of the more politically pragmatic alternative-passed on several opportunities to relocate the inmates to correctional facilities in the continental United States as a first step toward affording the prisoners due process of law.
“This will not be an easy process by any means, but all of the detainees should be transferred by 2012, or 2016 at the very latest.”
With the Guantánamo issue finally resolved, President Obama has reportedly already begun efforts to address another of his 2008 campaign promises by calling for the removal of the Bush-era tax cuts from the current political dialogue.
The Obama administration has gone over to the dark side with stretching the “terrorist” category, going far further that Bush or Cheney would ever had dreamed. They have now compared an uprising in 1818 by the Seminole tribes in Florida to Al Qaeda to justify prosecutions of detainees at Guantanamo
Bitter analogy in war crime case: Indians, al Qaeda
By Carol Rosenberg
Seminoles in 1818 similar to al Qaeda in 2001? Some Pentagon prosecutors appeared to make this analogy to support a Guantánamo war crimes conviction, then clarified in a war court filing.
Pentagon prosecutors touched off a protest – and issued an apology this week – for likening the Seminole Indians in Spanish Florida to al Qaeda in documents defending Guantánamo’s military commissions.
Citing precedents, prosecutors reached back into the Indian Wars in arguments at an appeals panel in Washington D.C. Specifically, they invoked an 1818 military commission convened by Gen. Andrew Jackson after U.S. forces invaded then-Spanish Florida to stop black slaves from fleeing through a porous border – then executed two British men for helping the Seminole Indians.
Navy Capt. Edward S. White also wrote this in a prosecution brief:
“Not only was the Seminole belligerency unlawful, but, much like modern-day al Qaeda, the very way in which the Seminoles waged war against U.S. targets itself violate the customs and usages of war.”
A native American advocacy group complained to the military court. Defense lawyers for two Yemenis convicted of war crimes at Guantánamo countered that the behavior of Jackson, the future U.S. president now on the $20 bill, was no shining example of American military justice.
A politically ambitious Jackson, defense lawyers wrote, waged “an illegal war” that set fire to entire Indian villages “in a campaign of extermination.”
In the legal precedent, U.S. troops convicted two British traders, Alexander Arbuthnot and Robert Ambrister, for helping the Seminoles and escaped slaves and sentenced them to a whipping. Jackson, a slave owner, declared the punishment too soft. He had them executed.
Florida historians are familiar with the episode.
“Arbuthnot was hanged from the yard arm of his own ship,” said University of Florida history professor Jack Davis. “Ambrister was killed by firing squad.”
At issue in the Court of Military Commissions Review is whether a newly minted post 9/11 war court crime – providing material support for terror – is legitimate for prosecution at a war crimes tribunal.
Marcy Wheeler at FDL comments that “our government is siding with slavery, genocide of Native Americans, and Andrew Jackson’s illegal belligerency, it is citing our own country’s illegal behavior-to find some support for the claim that material support is a military crime.”
Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson sent a letter of apology to the Seminole tribe but didn’t back away from the analogy.
But Defense Department general counsel Jeh Johnson made clear in the single-page letter that the U.S. government was standing by its precedent from Gen. Andrew Jackson’s Indian Wars in its bid to uphold the life-time conviction of Osama bin Laden’s media secretary at Guantánamo’s Camp Justice.
Johnson delivered a speech at the Pentagon in commemoration of Martin Luther King day that twisted Dr. King’s antiwar philosophy into support for the Afghan and Iraq wars.
What Marcy said:
And so it is that our government clings desperately to one of the darkest chapters of our history to legitimize its current actions. Rather than reflect on what that means-how damning it is that we can point only to Andrew Jackson’s illegal treatment of Native Americans to justify our current conduct-the government says simply, “a precedent is a precedent!”
Obama’s boys have now thrown Native Americans under the bus. Welcome, my friends, you have lots of company.
Not that I was ever in but I was willing to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt once he was elected but since kicking his base supporters off the bus in the middle of the desert, I can’t even hold my nose to vote for him. As was pointed out in a Raw Story article, these are just a few of the reasons:
1. Health care for all
If you’re an American making less than $30,000 a year, chances are you still have trouble seeing a doctor, despite the passage of President Obama’s health care reform plan. In 2007, then-Senator Obama said he wanted to make sure no American is without access to vital medical attention and proposed using revenues from the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts to fund it. When the campaign laid out their specific plans in 2008, they included a “public option” that would be paid for by the public at large and made available to anyone who could not obtain coverage through their employer or other public program.
We all know how well that turned out, a massive sell out to the health insurance and pharmaceutical industry and a cave ro extending the Bush (er, Obama) tax cuts. Yes, the consumer is forced to buy an inadequate insurance policy and still not have access to a doctor but hey, they’re insured. Now the Republicans are attacking Medicare and Medicaid so the government can fund more imperial wars and buy bigger and better weapons while giving the wealthy even more tax cuts.
2. Close Guantanamo
As a symbol of everything that liberals thought to be wrong with the Bush-era, closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba should have been an easy target for the new and popular president and his Democratic super-majority in Congress — and, in fact, then-candidate Obama promised to do just that. But as he soon found out, strategic and political calculations have made it almost impossible to shuck.
Now we have even bigger and better military tribunals, no trials in civilian courts for those scary men in Guantanamo and for 47 of them, the possibility no trial ever and the rest of their lives in detention all in the name of the never ending War on Terror (On wait, we don’t call it that any more).
3. Defend labor rights
“Understand this,” Obama said during a campaign rally in 2007. “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America.” (Watch.)
He can’t find his comfy shoes? Michelle must have tossed them when they moved into the executive mansion. Truthfully, at this point, it’s is best he stay away and silent.
4. Reform the Patriot Act
Contrary to popular belief, Obama has never actually argued for a repeal of the Bush administration’s sweeping, post-9/11 security initiatives, which were passed with a mandatory “sunset” clause to overrule the concerns of civil libertarians at the time. Instead, Obama has consistently said he favors enhanced judicial oversight and a pullback from some warrantless searches — like the provisions that allow the FBI to access library records without a warrant.
Obama “reformed” it all right. Besides defending it in court, he got it extended even for even longer than the Republicans wanted without any changes. This extends the governments ability to spy on every private citizen until 2013, a non-election year, when it comes up for renewal again.
5. End the wars
Even as a candidate, Obama maintained that Afghanistan should be “the focus” of Bush’s terror war, and he pledged to make it so. But the president was also swept into power on a wave of anti-war fervor behind his calls to end the occupation of Iraq. Iraq has calmed down quite a bit as U.S. troops steadily stream out of the country, but Afghanistan is more violent than ever amid Obama’s own “surge.”
The US will have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for years. But, but, his loyalist supporters say, they aren’t “combat troops”. I hate to tell them but ALL troops are “combat troops”. Not only this, now there is the bombardment of Pakistan, Yemen and Libya.
One day after announcing his bid for reelection, Obama’s poll numbers show less than half the country believes President Obama deserves reelection, with disaffected liberals now a fast growing demographic and independents split. Would the country have been better off with McCain or Hillary as President is useless speculation. All that is important now is Dick Cheney is pleased.