Barack Obama’s march in Orwellian lockstep with George W. Bush to the tune of I’m a Yankee Doodle Unitary Executive continues.
We’ve noted how President Obama is keeping Bush’s Big Brother warrantless, omnipresent spy program intact. We’ve noted how Obama has sent his lawyers to argue that the President has the right to stop any lawsuit against the U.S. federal government merely by claiming, without offering proof, that there are state secrets involved. Just at the end of last week, we noted how President Obama appears to be asserting the right of the President to keep people imprisoned at Guantanamo, even when the people have not been found guilty of any crime, and have been declared by the U.S. government not to be of any danger to anybody.
Today, you can add another note of Bush authoritarianism to the increasingly thin Obama anthem of change. The Obama Administration has declared in a court of law that the President has the right to imprison people, and then deny them the right to sue when they are abused in the President’s prisons.
The specific cases being dealt with are at Bagram in Afghanistan, where the United States has operated a prison at which people have been tortured so severely that they have died as a result of their injuries. Even the Bush Administration didn’t argue that abuse didn’t take place.
But, George W. Bush isn’t President anymore. Barack Obama is, and so what matters most of all is what Barack Obama is doing about it.
Once again, Barack Obama is sending out his lawyers to argue in court that what George W. Bush did in establishing these prisons was right and proper and legal. Obama Administration lawyers just got done arguing that people imprisoned at Bagram by the United States should not have the right to sue the U.S. government for human rights abuses that were inflicted against them there.
The shadow side of this argument is something that Barack Obama isn’t dealing with. It’s the fact that, while the U.S government isn’t acknowledging protection for Bagram prisoners under the laws of the United States, the U.S. government isn’t giving prisoners at Bagram their rights under the laws of war either. Those laws of war are legally binding on the President of the United States and all of his Executive Branch, including the military, as all ratified treaties are.
By arguing that the Bagram prisoners have no right to protection under U.S. law, while maintaining the Bush policy of denying protection under the laws of war, President Obama is endorsing George W. Bush’s creation of zones around the world where no law is in effect, zones in which the President of the United States pretty much has the power to do whatever he wants, with no accountability to anyone.
Barack Obama and George W. Bush certainly have different personalities, but when it comes to their disregard of the rule of law, they’re like peas in a pod… a disgusting, rotten, pod.