NYT Wakes Up To Obama’s Surprising Flexibility on the Rule of Law

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Sunday, March 22, 2009 at 1:03 pm

Reading The New York Times’ lead editorial today feels a bit like reading a summary of much of what I’ve been writing for the past two months: that President Obama, despite his impressive pronouncements on closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and ending torture and unnecessary government secrecy, hasn’t changed the federal government’s positions in the major legal cases challenging Bush-era lawlessness.

I’m not trying to take any credit for The Times’ awakening on this issue, but I’m glad to see it is finally joining the party. As I’ve noted before (as did The Wall Street Journal), much of the mainstream media has been gingerly tip-toeing around these issues, making excuses for a new president who needs time to get his appointees in place and his policies on paper. But in the meantime, his Justice Department has been quietly pressing forward with some of the more controversial policies of the previous administration.

We’re talking about lawsuits over torture, warrantless wiretapping, state secrets and policies of extraordinary executive powers that allow the president to indefinitely detain suspected terror supporters abroad — and even here on U.S. soil.

Sure, the Obama administration announced it was withdrawing the use of the word “enemy combatant”, but as I’ve pointed out before, that’s more about semantics than substance. At the same time, the administration is asking the federal courts to stall their habeas corpus cases on the theory that the courts don’t have the authority to free these prisoners anyway.

I have to wonder if Obama — who, to be fair, has his hands full these days with the depressing economic legacy left him by the last administration — is being fully briefed on some of the more outrageous positions being taken in his name. If he’s not, he should be; after all, he’s the one who’s been saying that as president, he has to be able to take on more than one thing at a time.

Comments

10 Comments

Independent Mind
Comment posted March 23, 2009 @ 6:18 am

Is anyone really that suprised? I've been saying all along that regardless of Democrats or Republicans, we are being given a choice of only two paths to the same exact destination. Maybe folks will start waking up and seeing it for what it is…..


A Marie - Los Angeles
Comment posted March 23, 2009 @ 10:02 am

Is the president “surprisingly flexible” or is he not fully briefed on positions as you mention in the last paragraph? Does he have “his hands full these days,” or is he, as you imply, unable to “take on more than one thing at a time?” I think you've hit on the complexity of issues even by trying to write about them. These issues are in need of close review compared to the obvious plug-the-hole-in-the-leaking-ship-that-is-our-economy strategy. What are your specific suggestions for how the president can become the rule of law (tongue-in-cheek) and quickly address the fragile issues you point out in previous articles?


Independent Mind
Comment posted March 23, 2009 @ 1:18 pm

Is anyone really that suprised? I've been saying all along that regardless of Democrats or Republicans, we are being given a choice of only two paths to the same exact destination. Maybe folks will start waking up and seeing it for what it is…..


A Marie - Los Angeles
Comment posted March 23, 2009 @ 5:02 pm

Is the president “surprisingly flexible” or is he not fully briefed on positions as you mention in the last paragraph? Does he have “his hands full these days,” or is he, as you imply, unable to “take on more than one thing at a time?” I think you've hit on the complexity of issues even by trying to write about them. These issues are in need of close review compared to the obvious plug-the-hole-in-the-leaking-ship-that-is-our-economy strategy. What are your specific suggestions for how the president can become the rule of law (tongue-in-cheek) and quickly address the fragile issues you point out in previous articles?


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