Wednesday, February 11, 2009

So Exactly When Does "Change" Begin, Take 45345234524523452452: Elena Kagan Says Government Can Indefinitely Detain Terrorism Suspects

Let me say upfront: I am a cynic. Accordingly, I never took the "change" mantra too seriously. But I certainly thought that after eight years of frenetic liberal criticism of the Bush administration, Obama would indeed offer some important differences. But even that tiny hope has been dashed. After the recent announcements that Obama would continue the practice of rendition and that the CIA would seek approval for "harsher" interrogations "if necessary," the small space I reserve in my heart for idealism and for surprisingly good decisions (or at least decisions that fulfill promises) by politicians has diminished substantially. But after today's news, the space has completely vanished.

What happened today? Elena Kagan, Dean of Harvard Law School and nominee for Solicitor General, announced that she believes that the government has the authority to detain indefinitely terrorism suspects because the country is "at war" with Al Qaeda. Because I am busy finishing edits on a law review article, can someone please explain to me how this differs from Bush's position, which liberals condemned, bashed and burned in effigy?

Related Readings on Dissenting Justice:

Rendition, Secrecy and Torture: Inseparable?

Just As I Predicted: Obama Administration Invokes State Secrets Privilege in Anti-Torture Lawsuit

Panetta: Rendition Will Continue, Would Ask Obama to Authorize Harsher Interrogation Methods "If Necessary"

Elevating Form Over Substance: Liberals Now Argue that They Oppose the Label of Bush's Program, Not the Substance

Still a Flip-Flop: My Fellow Liberals Push Back Against Allegations of Inconsistency Concerning Rendition

Major Flip-Flop by Human Rights Watch: Organization Waiting for Obama to Develop Kinder, Gentler Rendition Program

Hold Them Accountable Part II: If Conservatives Caused the Economic Crisis, They Had a Lot of Help from Democrats!

Hold Them Accountable Too: Many Democrats Supported Policies of the "Worst President" (Part I)

43 comments:

Greg Toombs said...

It differs because Obama is a Liberal Democrat.

Silly goose.

Anonymous said...

Simply put, now that BDS isn't blinding folks to reality, formerly incoherent liberals are actually looking at things based on their own merits.

--Rex

dualdiagnosis said...

Obama= Good
Chimpy McBusHitler= Bad

Anonymous said...

Presumably, this declaration includes provisions for speedy hearings to determine the suspects' status as well as an aversion to torturing them ...

Anonymous said...

Rex is on the right track. To be more precise, the administration remembers the Willie Horton ad and knows that, if a detainee is released and goes on to kill an American, the President can forget about being re-elected. Of course, this motivation -- politics, not a lust for torture -- was also the basis for Bush's policy.

Mark G

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous said: "Presumably, this declaration includes provisions for speedy hearings to determine the suspects' status as well as an aversion to torturing them."

Indefinite dentention does not go along with "speedy trials" or with swift notice of the charges against the detainee. Also, with Panetta saying that he would seek "harsher" techniques if necessary and that rendition will continue - I am not sure you effort to distinguish Bush and Obama works.

Anonymous said...

To some extent, this demonstrates the difference between being the opposition versus being the government. Instead of just being against, you now actually have to do something.

But this also demonstrates the hysterics that a lot of people have used over the last 8 years: the determination that everything Bush did was bad.

Expect to see a lot more of this, as the Obama admin discovers that many Bush decisions were actually reasonable.

Also, expect to see a lot of comments that point out (correctly): if Bush had done this, the Left would be screaming in outrage.

Examples: an $800 Billion stimulus, the White House taking direct control of the census, a cabinet full of tax cheats, etc.

JBlog said...

"We have always been at war with Eastasia."

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Anonymous - I wouldn't say this makes Bush's policies reasonable - but if people now suddenly tolerate them, it certainly suggests they were "under the influence."

Although for the most part, I have remained "neutral" on many policies that Obama and Bush endorse, that does not mean I necessarily agree with them. I write for two reasons: to expose progressive hypocrisy (as a true progressive, I find progressive hypocrisy utterly distasteful) and to speak the truth.

But I agree with your sentiment - that people were complaining very loudly, and now, their acceptance of the same policies suggests foul play. I think this shows that presidents crave power. The pattern of criticizing things on the outside, but embracing them on the inside has a long history in presidential politics.

MEC2 said...

As noted, it's not the political, it's the personal -- as long as my guy is the one goring the ox, gore away. I'd call it a serious devolution in public thinking, but I am not sure the mob has ever been particularly high minded.

Oh - I enjoy your clear minded posts, which seem to be the result of consideration and thought, unlike too many who acquire their opinions by reflex or mere contagion. Just shows folks can be of different political persuasions and yet share that important trait of "rational actor"...

A Jacksonian said...

I always preferred the view of a previous President and his orders to the US Army on this... but then I am living in the wrong century. They used to know how to treat people that we would call terrorists and what to call them, too. And those orders were in place for nearly 35 years. And the word 'detention' is not involved.

Orion said...

To put it bluntly, you've been had. Those you have put in charge don't care about rendition. They don't care about torture. They don't care about "How America looks to the World". They don't care about allowing homosexuals in the military, and they only care about "universal health care" to the extent that they can make a buck off the resulting bill they push through Congress. They certainly don't care about reforming the tax code, because it appears that most of them don't pay their taxes anyway. They don't care about legalizing drugs - if anything, they're secretly against legalization because it'd make more work for them down the road.

In short, the only reason they denounced rendition, the war in Iraq, "Bush'a assault on public education", etc., etc., was to gain enough support from gullible fools to win control of the Treasury so they could loot it, to the tune of $3 TRILLION dollars in just the past month. In effect you've all been unwitting (witless?) accomplices to the biggest bank heist in history. And the funny part (if there is one) is that you not only don't get a share of the loot, you get to pay the cost of breaking into the bank, looting it, and bricking up the hole afterwards.

Anonymous said...

The "change" part will be an extended interpretation which allows mass detention of American citizens.

nick said...

having authority is not USING authority

GDMF GOPers

Lex said...

[[Simply put, now that BDS isn't blinding folks to reality, formerly incoherent liberals are actually looking at things based on their own merits. --Rex]]

Actually, liberals are going to be more pissed about this than anybody else.

And this is what happens when you let someone do something illegal w/o repercussions. Someone else comes along and does it even worse.

Lex said...

Also, anyone who uses the term BDS needs to read this.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, Nick. Are you saying that the Obies are NOT going to detain the Gitmoids indefinitely, they just recognize their legal right to do so? Who is being released? And where? That is just contradictory and irrelevant enough of a gasp to make it into Obamas SOTU.

Anonymous said...

Nick, thanks for making it clear that people like you are completely naive, unwilling to accept the fact that you've been deceived, and have nothing intelligent to offer as criticism of people who don't agree with you.

Dave said...

So, Lex, you now side with those who are opposing Obama's "rush to" whatever it is he is rushing to? Because given your link he certainly seems to be doing all those things that were being complained about on your link.

Anonymous said...

The signs were already there. NAFTA is bad, followed by wink wink, don't worry. Obama explicitly stated the he believed the right to bear arms was an individual, but was OK with DC regs were OK in Heller vs. DC. This was head scratcher that made me think he was being duplicitous on most issues, where as McCain took an ad-hoc and incoherent approach to key issues.

Seeing the new president take positions inconsistent with his previous positions does not and will not surprise me.

I predict the surge in Afghanistan to be fleeting and temporary compared to his campaign bluster, which I see as a good thing.

I also predict that Gitmo will be closed in a year, yet the detainees will still be detained no differently than they were at Gitmo, just a different location.

Anonymous said...

Darren said: "people were complaining very loudly, and now, their acceptance of the same policies suggests foul play"

Can you show us exactly who made statements "complaining very loudly," and is now making statements showing "their acceptance of the same policies?"

Anonymous said...

Didn't the "Obama supports rendition" canard get debunked pretty much immediately? Obama supports normal rendition (like, you know, extraditing murderers to the nations where they committed murder in order to stand trial). He opposes extraordinary rendition, which is what we are opposed to and what we want him to be opposed to.

Anonymous said...

The uproar about Guantanimo and other issues of the terrorist rights movement was always a ruse to fool the rubes. The problem was that while Hillary (the wife of an avid practitioner of rendition) for instance understood what was going on, Obama came along and actually believed the rhetoric. Whether because he is a fool, sympathetic to the other side or naive is open to debate.

Now we have a completely untenable situation where we can't have military commissions, we can't have civilian trials, we can't repatriate any of these people and we can't let them go. The only thing that has occurred because of all of the faux moral outrage is that we must not take any more prisoners on the battlefield, either by shooting them instead or seeing to it that our allies take them. Intelligence intercepts indicate that the jihadis now understand this and have no choice but to fight to the death because the Iraqis have no qualms about how they are treated once in custody. This has and will cost us both lives and intelligence.

Palin nailed it when she said Obama would be worrying about whether the prisoners we take were read their rights. Obama is not a serious thinker on any subject. All of this was perfectly foreseeable and anyone who had given the subject even a moment of serious, rational thought would have seen it coming. That Obama alone did not, out of all of the major candidates in the last race, says all we need to know about the Chauncey Gardener who now inhabits the Whitehouse.

Obama will have to walk back from a lot more positions he took on the whole terrorist rights issue before all is said and done. The single shred of hope I have is how haggard he looked after being in office long enough to have received an actual intelligence briefing. This president should have come with training wheels.

Alexander K. said...

"Didn't the "Obama supports rendition" canard get debunked pretty much immediately? Obama supports normal rendition (like, you know, extraditing murderers to the nations where they committed murder in order to stand trial). He opposes extraordinary rendition, which is what we are opposed to and what we want him to be opposed to."

You're not a regular reader of this blog, are you?

Anonymous said...

At a key moment in the classic movie "The Maltese Falcon" Kasper Gutman distinguished "talking money from real money". That's what's going on here. Talking governance versus real governance. Cynical? Sure but in the finest style of the Obama administration. How much longer before this whole thing implodes?

Dangerous Dan said...

You're obviously an intelligent, educated man but I can't believe you thought a Democrat politician from the Chicago machine was going to be anything other than a Democrat politician from the Chicago machine.

Just remember this simple rule: When their lips move, they're lying.

Patm said...

It differs because the man in the White House has a D after his name.

And that's all.

Bush was no nazi, and he was no fascist. He was a president trying to keep his nation safe.

And Obama has figured that out.

Bush is owed an apology. Sorry Bush.

Anonymous said...

I was sure that some self-described progressives must be reasonable people. The problem was I had never met one, until now. Thank you Professor Hutchinson. I will return often to see what the other side thinks. Keep up your level-headed blogging.

Doug Santo
Pasadena, CA

Anonymous said...

"All of this was perfectly foreseeable and anyone who had given the subject even a moment of serious, rational thought would have seen it coming."

America abandoned "serious, rational thought" in 2006. It deserves everything it's going to get as a result.

Americans have always had a streak of stupid a mile wide, but God's grace has somehow always protected it.

Until now. The stupid has caught up to us.

Alex in CT said...

Orion, I think you are missing the point. If you are talking about the left's elite as "these people", then I disagree with you. They have not been "had" at all. Their opposition to programs like this was simply that they helped Bush when the left's elite wanted Bush to fail at all costs. Watch them all, one by one, wring their hands acting worried and pensive, then, after pretending to have done a lot of soul searching, accept these programs and make excuses for why these are now a necessary thing. And of course, if they can find a way to blame Bush for needing any of this 180 degree turn around, even better.

Remember that the left believes the end justifies the means. They play for keeps. Scorched earth strategy. As long as it gets them power they will say and do anything. Then once there they will use the media to spread their new propaganda. The question begs to be asked if Obama’s admin can also already be labeled fascist, according to the standards set by the left for Bush, or not. Ask them this question and watch them squirm.

Me, I expect Obama's administration to make what was done under Bush look tame. Especially after our first attack. And as someone already pointed out, I expect eventually that Obama’s people will have policies to deal with people holding the wrong political views as well.

Fat Man said...

I liked the way Richard Fernandez put it:

despite everything the world continues to turn in its old corrupt way. And the same idea may now be crossing the minds of those who believed that electing Democrats into power would mean cleaner government, world peace and a high moral tone only to realize that maybe Washington is like a softdrink machine which dispenses orange bug juice no matter what buttons you push.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi. Thanks for all the commentary and for visiting the blog. Now-as a truly nonpartisan cynic let me pose the following question to my readers across the ideological spectrum: Do you honestly believe that ONLY Democrats and liberals take inconsistent positions or abandon themes they asserted on the campaign trail or emphasize issues for partisan purposes????

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said: "Didn't the "Obama supports rendition" canard get debunked pretty much immediately?"

Yes.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Hi, Alexander. You are absolutely correct. Despite an initial rush by defenders of Obama to parse differences between his "rendition" and Bush's, Panetta made it clear that the administration will continue rendition. Panetta: Rendition Will Continue, Would Ask Obama to Authorize Harsher Interrogation Methods "If Necessary"

Obama will continue rendition and defend it through the state secrets privilege. Panetta said that he would seek permission to use harsher interrogation if necessary, and Holder and Kagan endorse indefinite detention. Panetta also said that Bush didn't have a policy of rendering individuals to torture (which was one of the major "parsing" points) and that the Obama adminstration would try to use diplomacy to prevent torture -- which is exactly what Bush said and what many human rights groups said was impossible. Also, the closure of CIA prisons does not preclude indefinite detention elsewhere (which rendition facilitates); and now that it seems that Obama's administration supports the practice, there really isn't much that formally distinguishes Obama and Bush on these issues -- except that liberal organizations are not loudly critiquing Obama for taking these positions. Some are. Most aren't.

PS: Just do a search on this blog for rendition; you will pull up a lot of articles with links.

mcallen3 said...

I think it makes sense to trust a leader you trust and not trust a leader you don't. I'm just bothered that so many people feel the need to pretend that something else is going on. Every American President is going to want at least the threat of death, prison and torture when dealing with mortal enemies of the country. We expect it. Our enemies expect it.

Decidere said...

Well, it's easy for me since I never supported Obama and never trusted him, as having only expedient convenient stances and not anything fixed. It's curious that Obama was able to run as a lawyer and people considered that a good thing (no offense). But the torture and detention stuff is such a huge disappointment anyway - isn't this a no-brainer except for Bush? Now I have to contemplate whether Obama's not just opportunist, but whether he's truly evil. Anyway, I hope he sends a note to the Castro brothers to apologize, noting their techniques were right all along. Back to Animal Farm, I have to review a few chapters. Oh, I also posted over on TPM about Hilzoy's summary of Bazam Mohamed. Bad times.

http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/talk/blogs/desidero/2009/02/you-too-how-to-mantle-your-own.php

Decidere said...

Glen Greenwald continues:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/02/11/state_secrets/index.html

And some effort to legislatively modify the State Secrets Act:

http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/02/11/the-senate-state-secrets-bill/#more-3588

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Orion - calm down. All were not "had." And read this stuff (from 2008):

Progressives Awaken from Obama-Vegetative State

Chicken Little Politics: Moderate Obama Causes Progressive Panic

Lex said...

[[So, Lex, you now side with those who are opposing Obama's "rush to" whatever it is he is rushing to? Because given your link he certainly seems to be doing all those things that were being complained about on your link.]]

I have consistently opposed torture, warrantless domestic wiretapping, extraordinary renditions and unprovoked invasions of other sovereign nations because I am a conservative concerned about appropriate limits on govt. power and have been for a long time.

Anonymous said...

And I eagerly anticipate a huge outcry over the soon to be announced surge of 30,000 additional troops (between 3-5additional brigades) in a far away quagmire in the Middle East with IED's, daily human suicide bombers, lack of body armor, no exit strategy or timeline for departure. Iraq? No, that would be Obama's Afghanistan.

has_te said...

I wonder if Elena has been AIPAC'd.
Their entire world-view is unabashedly one of 'Terrorists' under evry bed..in every closet.
And no bloody wonder ..after southern Beirut and Gaza.
Guess I'll google that.

nick said...

i stated a fact

you state opinion

and ANONOMOUSLY at that

we never disputed Bush had authority
we said he was stupid in his use of it.

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Jukebox - whether you post anonymously or under your moniker, you must follow decorum. Thanks.

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