Obama's Detention After Acquittal Policy

As someone who has argued that there could be a sound, fair, constitutional and Geneva compliant preventive detention system, it seems that every day the Obama Administration takes positions that would shock even a "centrist" (snark) like me. Glenn Greenwald details the latest:

Spencer Ackerman yesterday attended a Senate hearing at which the DOD's General Counsel, Jeh Johnson, testified. As Ackerman highlighted, Johnson actually said that even for those detainees to whom the Obama administration deigns to give a real trial in a real court, the President has the power to continue to imprison them indefinitely even if they are acquitted at their trial.

Unbelievable. Now, if we are going to have preventive detention (and I have explained my view on how it could be done before), you can not place someone in preventive detention AFTER acquittal. This is just ridiculous. More . . .

Again, a preventive detention system would have to be based on a POW-style approach imo (outlined here and here.

It is true of course that prisoners of war can be charged with crimes independent of their status as POWs. But it seems clear that that is not what the Obama Administration is contemplating. The idea appears to be try some detainees on the charges that would establish a combatant status and reserve the right to hold a detainee even if acquitted on such charges.

As Greenwald writes:

Whatever else is true, even talking about imprisoning people based on accusations of which they have been exonerated is a truly grotesque perversion of everything that our justice system and Constitution are supposed to guarantee. That's one of those propositions that ought to be too self-evident to need stating.

Apparently, it requires stating now.

Speaking for me only

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    I think this latest horrifying position (5.00 / 11) (#3)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 02:56:54 PM EST
    should be all the argument anyone needs to oppose any form of preventive detention.  And remind people of the dangers of unlimited executive power - you would think we had learned something in the Bush years, but maybe people have gotten used to being passengers in a speeding bus whose brakes have failed.  So, there's a new driver, but I don't feel any safer and I have no confidence that he has any intention of trying to slow the bus down, safely.  People aren't looking beyond their day-to-day lives and frankly, when so many are just trying to keep their heads above water, don't have the time or the energy to make these kinds of things a priority.  And then we have the crowd that is still clinging to the delusion that this is part of some grand master plan that we little people just aren't smart enough or gifted enough to figure out.

    So, where is the Congress?  Where is the pushback?

    I have to say that it also makes me wonder what Dawn Johnsen is thinking about all of this, and why her nomination continues to linger in committee without, as near as I can tell, any particular support or arm-twisting by the president who nominated her.

    Obama owns this policy now.  He owns Gitmo, owns the protection of the Bush administration from accountability on torture, owns the whole mess.  This is no longer about the bad Bush policy that he ran against - this is Obama policy now.

    Feel the change.

    Ironic (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by cal1942 on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:25:43 PM EST
    Obama is retaining executive powers that are clearly contrary to American (hell English) tradition, but, is willing to pass on leadership in some important domestic matters to Congress.

    That's the crux of it... (5.00 / 2) (#82)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 12:13:46 AM EST
    If Obama can 'lead' on the matter of retaining unpopular, regressive, Bush-era national security policies, why can't/won't he 'lead' on the matter of highly popular, progressive domestic policies like substantive health care reform?

    To coin a word... (5.00 / 7) (#23)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:20:36 PM EST

    The first update on Greenwald's post, a comment by the ACLU's Ben Wizner:

       paradoxically, the only way to get out of Gitmo if you were charged in a military commission was to plead guilty and strike a deal that included repatriation (as David Hicks did).


        In Guantanamo, the accused must plead guilty to be released -- because even if he is acquitted, he remains an "enemy combatant" subject to indefinite detention. Only by striking a deal does a detainee stand a chance of getting out.

    See also: "divine right of kings"


    There is a terrorist behind every Bush.


    A terrorist behind every bush (5.00 / 1) (#33)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:54:18 PM EST
    is the McChrystal doctorine.

    Wow (5.00 / 6) (#13)
    by Steve M on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:16:15 PM EST
    This one is really out there.  I mean way out there.

    Not cool (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by andgarden on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:18:14 PM EST

    abhorrent to our own Constitution. (5.00 / 3) (#21)
    by coigue on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:14:48 PM EST
    It is an absurd policy such as this (5.00 / 3) (#19)
    by KeysDan on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:06:13 PM EST
    that gives far reaching pause in matters of national security. We observe stark differences between words and actions and chalk it up to the differences between being a candidate and being the president. But is it just that (as sad as that would be) or something else? Something antithetical to the fabric of democracy, something that prevents changes known to be needed, even by a new and popular president?  In today's NYT op-ed by filmmaker Errol Morris (Fog of War), Morris, suggests that Robert McNamara was not quite deserving of the villainy most of us ascribe to him, for he was acting, in effect, to prevent nuclear war, knowing that the Joint Chiefs of Staff viewed JKF with disdain.  Moreover, when McNamara discovered secret Pentagon plans for a preemptive strike against the Soviet Union, he worked to prevent it, apparently, by giving them something to do--Viet Nam.  Of course, if true, it would only make it all the worse, but I do, sometimes, wonder who is really running our national security apparatus.

    Hate to say it BTD (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:46:22 PM EST
    But anyone who would put McChrystal in charge of his war is not concerned with basic human rights.

    He's already sold his soul... (none / 0) (#32)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:52:09 PM EST
    It would appear so (5.00 / 1) (#34)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:55:00 PM EST
    and it happened without even a whimper.  Very sad.

    This is what happens when you (5.00 / 1) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:03:46 PM EST
    listen to Gates, Petraeus, and McChrystal and you take them seriously on "the surge".  I read Petraeus' counterinsurgency theory very well.  The thing he left out of it though was the application of McChrystals, which he applied liberally.  Iraq isn't any safer but at least we didn't lose Baghdad when it looked possible.  I suppose we momentarily saved face until we could leave.  Why would Obama listen to these men though just because an application of torture and assassination saved the Bush Administration face?  The Bush Administration is soulless.  Do any of us really want to "win" anything this bad?  Wouldn't we rather "risk" containment of fundy terrorism than to simply embrace torture, murder, collateral damage, the whole nine yards of soullessness?  Life is always risky business so I already know what my answer is.  If I'm going to live I'd like to be able to do it feeling like a human being in my own skin and this girl is no pacifist.

    Saved face till we could leave? (none / 0) (#65)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:15:50 PM EST
    There are still 134,000 US troops in Iraq. And more contractors than that. Some of the troops were withdrawn from Baghdad, not by withdrawing them, but by REDRAWING Baghdad city limits.

    More and better lies and bullsh*t.


    Exactly. It happened... (none / 0) (#37)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:56:36 PM EST
    ...with a great big ear to ear 20,000 watt grin.

    When exactly? (5.00 / 2) (#61)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:57:33 PM EST
    Personally, I think it happened a pretty long time ago.

    Maybe it was when he was a "community organizer" and realized that life with the elites was way freakin' better than dealing with the grind in "the community".


    Quite a long time ago... (none / 0) (#64)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:10:07 PM EST
    I think that you don't get to be a candidate even, without first signing on the dotted line...

    Two years? (none / 0) (#68)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:26:38 PM EST
    I'm talking twenty or more.

    No, no (none / 0) (#70)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:30:13 PM EST
    I wrote that two years ago to point out that we knew it before he was even nominated. But he wouldn't have even been allowed anywhere near campaigning without first selling his soul.

    Okay I see... (5.00 / 2) (#71)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:38:11 PM EST
    My feeling has always been that if Obama wasn't willing to follow the status quo or perceived to be a person who would be easily swayed, he would never have been accepted by so many in the establishment political elite so early - or ever for that matter.

    Well, he certainly wouldn't have (5.00 / 1) (#74)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 09:06:34 PM EST
    had the backscratching donor support he's had...

       Despite claiming that his campaign wealth comes from small individual donors, Obama is backed by the biggest Wall Street firms: Goldman Sachs, UBS AG, Lehman Brothers, J P Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse, as well as the huge hedge fund Citadel Investment Group. "Seven of the Obama campaign's top 14 donors," wrote the investigator Pam Martens, "consisted of officers and employees of the same Wall Street firms charged time and again with looting the public and newly implicated in originating and/or bundling fraudulently made mortgages."


        The U.S. government and the Federal Reserve have spent, lent or committed $12.8 trillion, an amount that approaches the value of everything produced in the country last year, to stem the longest recession since the 1930s.
        President Barack Obama and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met with the chief executives of the nation's 12 biggest banks on March 27 at the White House to enlist their support to thaw a 20-month freeze in bank lending.

        "The president and Treasury Secretary Geithner have said they will do what it takes," Goldman Sachs Group Inc. Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein said after the meeting. "If it is enough, that will be great. If it is not enough, they will have to do more."

    Let's face it: Obama's been (5.00 / 3) (#75)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 09:12:05 PM EST
    lovin' 'em and leavin' 'em forever, always looking ahead to the next better thing, saying and doing whatever it took to get it, feeling not an ounce of guilt or shame doing it, and once he has it, forgetting just as quickly the "little" people he climbed over on the way.

    Some would suggest that those are all qualities of the typical pol, but I would argue that these are qualities of someone who is merely using politics - and all the people he meets along the way - to take him to the grand - and grandiose -  level he sees as his destiny.

    I think he is dangerous in a way that Bush never was.


    BTD, other than you and Greenwald ... (5.00 / 6) (#27)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:47:09 PM EST
    none of the left leaning blogs are even talking about this.

    This doesn't surprise me.  But it is another indication that many of these blogs never cared about this issue at all.

    That's because (5.00 / 5) (#30)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:51:23 PM EST
    it doesn't fit their narrative.

    It harshes the hopium buzz (5.00 / 6) (#42)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:04:12 PM EST
    I hope you get credit for that phrase (none / 0) (#62)
    by inclusiveheart on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:03:25 PM EST
    if you came up with it.  It is brilliant.

    I have this image of totally high herion addicts letting some thugs into their squat and watching them trash and steal their stuff saying, "Man, that's kinda harsh, but it's okay."


    Or Your Fantasy (1.00 / 6) (#39)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:58:30 PM EST
    Not True (none / 0) (#38)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:57:54 PM EST

    That is not to take one iota away from GG and BTD.


    Don't know what Nat Geo ... (5.00 / 1) (#43)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:04:19 PM EST
    cell phones have to do with my post ... but ... whatever.

    lol (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:12:30 PM EST

    Oh well, doing too many things at once and not checking the link.

    Here is the corrected link that contradicts your assertion:



    Not much of a contradiction ... (none / 0) (#50)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:35:01 PM EST

    The only DK diary in that google search is one which was posted this morning.  And it's already off the front page.  Huffpo had one story which was a link.  Don't know if that was ever on the front page.  "Comments from Leftfield" isn't a blog I'm familiar with but good for them for writing about it.

    Other than that I don't see much refutation.  Most of that google search links to unrelated stories or stories nor on left leaning blogs.  

    It certainly doesn't match left-leaning blogs recent coverage of Sarah Palin or Michael Jackons (!?!)


    OK I'll Spell it Out (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 09:44:16 PM EST
    BTD, other than you and Greenwald none of the left leaning blogs are even talking about this.

    1.Comments from the left:

    More on Obama's Post-Acquittal Indefinite Detention Plans

    2.Common Dreams:

    Obama Slides Further Down Bush's Hill on Indefinite Detention

    3.Democracy Underground:

    WSJ: Obama may not release detainees even if they are acquitted (wtf???)

    4. The Washington Independent:

    Johnson Opens the Door to Post-Acquittal Detentions

    5.Socratic Gadfly:

    Obama now WORSE than Bush on indefinite detention

    6.Op Ed News:

    Glenn Greenwald: The Obama Justice System

    7.Huffington Post:

    U.S. May Not Release Acquitted Detainees

    8.Anti War.com:

    Obama Mulls `Indefinite Detention' Without Trial for Detainees

    9.Reason online:

    The Indefinite Future of Indefinite Detention



    This is one more addition to the list, in (5.00 / 1) (#29)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:51:13 PM EST
    The Dawning Age of Obama as a Potentially Teach-able Moment for The Left

    It's not a pretty story. And it's only going to get worse.

    It's not for nothing that Goldman Sachs gave Obama more than $900,000 - a small part of the astonishing $38 million Obama got from the finance, insurance and real estate industries ("FIRE") during the last election cycle. It's not for nothing that Obama got three-fourths of his campaign cash from people giving more than $200 (the same big donor percentage as George W. Bush in 2004), set new records in corporate election funding and achieved a level of corporate media love that remains almost beyond belief.

    Beyond Surprise and Disappointment: Previous Warnings and a Teachable Moment

    Infuriating as these policy actions (and inactions) and this corporate sponsorship may be to people of the actual Left (a different category than the broad-brush "Left" used in "mainstream" U.S. media), however, serious progressives have no business being surprised or disappointed by Obama's presidential trajectory. Candidate Obama made his "deeply conservative" [10] corporate-imperial centrism clear to those willing to undertake elementary investigations of his political and ideological record. As Scott Horton noted last March on Antiwar.com, "those who bought into the slogans `Hope' and `Change' last fall should have read the fine print. We were warned."[11]

    There's another and better (or at least more pleasing) reason, moreover, for radicals to temper their angst over the "betrayals" and other transgressions of the new White House. There is something to be gained on the longer path to radical change from experiencing all this terrible if predictable - and in fact predicted - policy under the nation's new chief executive.

    The dawning Age of Obama is potentially a great "teach-able moment" for left thinkers, communicators, activists who are ready and willing to take up the challenges of productive and progressive demystification and rebellion.

    The Crime Comes Last (5.00 / 4) (#57)
    by john horse on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:29:28 PM EST
    I think Lewis Carroll had the best take on Obama's detention policy

    'He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn't even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all.'

    By the way, nice website.


    Thanks, John (none / 0) (#58)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:45:23 PM EST
    Good to see you... been awhile.

    O'Bushama (5.00 / 1) (#41)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:04:02 PM EST
    Fox noise should really have a moment of silence in honor of this transmogrification.

    And they can chalk it ... (5.00 / 1) (#45)
    by Robot Porter on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:09:42 PM EST
    up to the power of prayer.



    This, in an update to Glenn's post, (5.00 / 1) (#59)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:55:05 PM EST
    is enough to tell you just how out there Obama is on this:

    The Weekly Standard's Michael Goldfarb, a former McCain aide, is someone who believes that the President possesses what he calls "near dictatorial power" when it comes to national security.  He has repeatedly praised Obama for maintaining Bush Terrorism policies.  But even Goldfarb is uncomfortable with Obama's assertion of "post-acquittal detention power":

    I understand and respect the president's decision to disregard his left-wing critics and embrace the same policies of indefinite detention and denial of due process that made the Bush-Cheney administration so effective in preventing another terror attack. I support those policies because as illegal enemy combatants, terrorists have no right to due process. But, as Glenn Greenwald points out, there is something Orwellian about this administration's attempt to have it both ways -- to get the credit for putting detainees on trial only to disregard the outcome if they don't like the verdict. Obviously the Bush administration would have done the same if they thought for a second that they could get away with it. But even the Bush OLC wouldn't have dared suggest detaining individuals who had been acquitted on all charges.

    As Ben Wizner's email in the prior update reflects, it's far from clear that "even the Bush OLC wouldn't have dared suggest detaining individuals who had been acquitted on all charges."  Still, if your assertions of executive power and denial of due process to Muslim detainees even make Michael "near dictatorial power" Goldfarb uncomfortable, that's a pretty compelling sign that you're way, way out there.

    I think poor Mr. Goldfarb loves, loves, loves Obama's authoritarian attitude and policies, but feels guilty for "cheating" on the Bush administration by saying so - hence the pullback that doesn't make much sense.

    When these people sing Obama's praises, I am tempted to check to see if pigs have taken flight, but the more disturbing fear is that Obama's taking us someplace we may never find our way back from.

    We left Kansas (none / 0) (#66)
    by Edger on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:18:25 PM EST
    long ago.

    Without ruby slippers.


    When I read Glenn's column (5.00 / 1) (#76)
    by oldpro on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 09:26:51 PM EST
    this morning, I thought...how much lower can Obama go?

    Are we preparing to become 'good Germans?'

    POW's who are tried... (2.00 / 1) (#15)
    by diogenes on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:18:46 PM EST
    If POW's ever are tried for crimes in the world, they don't get automatic release if acquitted.  This is hardly different.
    Anyway, convictions beyond a reasonable doubt in US courts when the offense is eight years old and witnesses and evidence may be in Afghanistan may be problematic; some of those who would be "acquitted" would likely be convicted based on clear and convincing evidence or the preponderance of the evidence.


    Yes (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 02:48:34 PM EST
    Thanks for the catch.

    I'm just trying to figure out (none / 0) (#5)
    by lilburro on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:33:15 PM EST
    how this happened.  How has Obama been able to get away with this slide to the right, even inside his own Administration?  Eric Holder for instance was someone even Glenn was moderately excited about or if you prefer cautiously optimistic about.  His performance has been very poor.  Why?  How can you effectively pressure an Administration on national security issues?  Pressuring Obama and Congress on healthcare seems to be working or at least changing the debate - pressuring Obama on national security hasn't had nearly the same results.

    This happened (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:38:26 PM EST
    Because no one did their due diligence or pressed Obama for answers during the campaign.  Everyone was in love with the personality, and those who dared to ask legitimate questions were pillored.  Look, even Glenn quotes Jake Tapper for asking a question about this and being dismissed by Robert Gibbs - Tapper is routinely ridiculed around here as a lightweight, but apparently he's one of the few asking the right questions.

    Shame on the media and shame on those who liked the pretty packaging but didn't look deeper in the box.


    That's not really true (5.00 / 4) (#7)
    by CST on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:42:35 PM EST
    with respect to this issue, it is pretty clear that he did a 180 from the campaign.  While running for president he clearly stated that we cannot simply hold people indefinitely and that we have to abide by the rule of law and Geneva conventions.

    This isn't about the campaign anymore, this is about the fact that now that he's in office he has completely abandoned those principals that he ran on.


    Fair enough (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:48:15 PM EST
    But there still wasn't sufficient due diligence, because, as with most pols, this is a pattern - saying one thing and doing the opposite.  Had some actually dared to press him, we might have had a better inkling.

    OR...this tells us that he was totally unprepared to assume the office because he had no idea what he really was talking about.  Remember?  He apparently had no idea, according to Biden, how big the economic problems were either.  So which is it?  Didn't know, or was more interested in running and winning than to understand what faced him?


    The news media failed in its role (5.00 / 8) (#36)
    by shoephone on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:56:22 PM EST
    As one of Greenwald's commenters so aptly noted, "Considering FISA, it was a con job from the get-go."

    Exactly. Considering how Obama's first complete 180 was perpetrated months before the election, that one act of dishonesty and betrayal should have been the source of deep questioning from the media mavens. But the so-called journalists didn't stick with that story very long. And the few bloggers (like Glenn, Jeralyn, BTD, and Lambert) who seriously approached the issue were accused by the rest of the blogger boyz of simply being stuck on Hillary and not recognizing Obama's brilliant political moves.

    So, none of Obama's current machinations over constitutional matters seem like anomolies, including his continuation of the worst of Bush's policies. As the saying goes, "I'm shocked but not surprised." And from the major news media there is still little to no coverage of the issue. The feeling in the pit of my stomach tells me it's going to get a lot worse before it gets better.


    The FISA betrayal (5.00 / 2) (#56)
    by weltec2 on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:15:44 PM EST
    alerted many of us here what we had in store. Think of it. This is only his first year in office. What is it going to be like in year four? He'll be able to run on the Republican ticket next time.

    Obama / Palin (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by jes on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:06:45 PM EST
    You betcha!

    OK...that was funny. (none / 0) (#67)
    by oldpro on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:18:57 PM EST
    Perhaps Obama eventually (5.00 / 1) (#83)
    by FoxholeAtheist on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 12:28:47 AM EST
    intends to retool himself and officially become a Leiberman-style Independent.

    The problem is (5.00 / 3) (#9)
    by CST on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:48:49 PM EST
    The American people for the most part are completely chicken when it comes to "national security".  Just look at polls that tell us the majority support torture.  People are terrified that "terrorists" are gonna end up in a max-security prison down the street.  There are too many people who are convinced for some reason that everyone in Gitmo or Bagram is guilty despite vast evidence to the contrary.

    People actually want healthcare reform.

    It's really depressing and incredibly wrong, but he's following the polls on this one.  The pressure on national security only comes from the left wing.


    I like what digby wrote today (5.00 / 2) (#10)
    by lilburro on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 03:57:06 PM EST
    We have, through expansion of executive power, extreme Congressional deference and a failure to counteract the push in the popular culture, allowed the arguments of reactionaries - that any suspect in the so-called "war on terror" must be detained indefinitely until the end of combat in an endless, figurative war - to take hold in the public mind. When these issues made the public debate, when torture became the stuff of online poll topics, when they were allowed legitimacy, we inevitably and inescapably lost that debate. The genie has left the bottle, and while a popular President could put it back in, he has shown absolutely no willingness to expend an ounce of political capital to do so. And we will look back on decisions like this as part of a sad legacy, regardless of the rest of the tenure.


    And also IIRC at times a majority of people were in favor of a Truth Commission, at least.  Here's the Gallup poll from Jim White.  And a majority voted for the guy who said he would change these tyrannical policies.  I dunno...there was opportunity to proceed differently.


    Agreed (none / 0) (#11)
    by CST on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:02:17 PM EST
    We lost the pr war on this one.  Maybe because no one stepped up to the plate to fight it.  I do think it was winnable.  I don't know if it's too late.  Maybe if the public opinion changes Obama will too, but he sure doesn't seem to want to lead on this, and in fact, is doing the opposite.  Which really sucks, because I think in a lot of ways he was our best chance to win the pr battle.  But he didn't want to.

    You're absolutely right though, it should never have gotten to a "debate" period.


    I guess the point is (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:05:05 PM EST
    If he were a real leader on this issue, it wouldn't matter what "the polls say" - he would lead and convince people to come around to (hopefully) the correct way of thinking.  My bet is that if you stopped the next 10 people on the street they really wouldn't know what's going, nor really have an opinion, which is why he's getting away with it.

    It's pretty clear to me (5.00 / 5) (#16)
    by CST on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:19:06 PM EST
    he is a leader on this issue.  In the wrong direction.

    He can affect the polls, and does when he wants to.  I think it's not whether or not he is a "leader" so much as it is which direction he leads.


    I agree: this policy is not some (5.00 / 4) (#18)
    by Anne on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:40:11 PM EST
    rogue, off-the-reservation decision by someone in the administration who didn't get the memo - this is exactly what Obama wants to do and where he wants to go.

    It's totally consistent with his desire to create preventive detention via executive order, with his general response to the torture photos and his desire to protect those in the prior administration from any accountability on torture and detention.

    Obama is leading...down a dangerous and decidedly anti-democratic road.


    I agree too, Anne...the qustion is why. (none / 0) (#72)
    by oldpro on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:50:59 PM EST
    Is this who Obama always was on these issues or is 'his change' the change the campaign was really about?

    Obama has affected the polls (5.00 / 2) (#60)
    by Cream City on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:56:11 PM EST
    His popularity is declining; see Marc Ambinder in the Atlantic today.  Maybe the much-maligned-here public is seeing the emperor without his clothes, after all -- and maybe on more than the economy . . . at which he has done a simply awful job, too.

    Makes me sick to my stomach (none / 0) (#54)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:11:00 PM EST
    and I think you are right!  How did we all become so cowardly?  So the FBI and CIA were fighting with each other again, and noticed terrorists played one lucky hand, one of the luckiest murderous hands in recorded history after the Trojan horse.  Must I lose touch with reality over it?

    No, Tracy, you don't have to (none / 0) (#73)
    by oldpro on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:58:13 PM EST
    lose touch with reality.  It appears, though, that Obama's reality is quite different from ours.

    I conclude that his reality is defined by fear of his most powerful employees...CIA, FBI, Joint Chiefs & DOD, etc. etc.

    One more example of the tail wagging the dog.  I do not think Obama is in control of anything that counts much.

    Reminds me of "W" in more ways than one.  I wish I were kidding.


    I don't think Pres. Obama is afraid (5.00 / 1) (#78)
    by oculus on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 11:07:24 PM EST
    of anything except another terrorist attack on his watch.

    Wish I could agree. (none / 0) (#85)
    by oldpro on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 12:55:31 AM EST
    I suspect he has no clue who to trust and if he knows his history, no way he can count on the CIA, FBI or DOD.  By design or default, they can do his administration in.

    Voting is begging. (none / 0) (#17)
    by Samuel on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 04:21:14 PM EST
    That's the problem.  We begged someone to do something - and the didn't follow through.  The "american people" don't have a say in what the government of (euphemistically referred to as) "The United States of America" does.  We can't even choose to individually stop funding a war without being thrown in jail.  

    The government is a violent institution.  It is the biggest, most violent institution.  You would never dream of begging the mob to stop utilizing violence to further an objective...  Why would we dream we could ask the same of the biggest, most destructive mafia the world has ever seen?

    Maybe I'm wrong and you can convince murderers to stop murdering by presenting an ethical argument but it certainly has not worked for any extended period of time in this country.  


    why is he doing this? (none / 0) (#20)
    by coigue on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:12:00 PM EST
    politics? Is he worried about Dick Cheney calling him "weak" on terror?

    Because (5.00 / 1) (#22)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:15:07 PM EST
    he can.

    He was lying during the campaign when he said he would roll these detention policies back - they all were.  If you were in a position of power, would you voluntarily give up tools that give you more control and more power, especially if you have powers as a unitary executive?  And especially if the masses aren't really paying attention or the issues too complicated for people to pay attention to when it's summer and they are trying to keep a roof over their head?


    I would (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by coigue on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:25:57 PM EST
    but then, I have no desire for the power in the first place.

    I actually think he is afraid of the GOP squawking that the Dems are weak on terror


    I think (none / 0) (#25)
    by jbindc on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:32:09 PM EST
    You give him way too much credit.  Pols are pols, after all.

    You apparently have something many pols don't - a conscience.


    I am calling him a coward. (none / 0) (#31)
    by coigue on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:51:33 PM EST
    That's too much credit?

    He wants to "win" Afghanistan (5.00 / 1) (#28)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:47:34 PM EST
    He will sell his soul for this win, and yours and mine as well.

    explain to me why this helps in the least. (none / 0) (#35)
    by coigue on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 05:55:41 PM EST
    I can't see how it does.

    These are the policies that (none / 0) (#44)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:06:07 PM EST
    those running the Afghanistan showdown say they must be able to have access to to fight the Taliban and fundy terrorism in Afghanistan.

    then he should change out (5.00 / 1) (#47)
    by coigue on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:14:34 PM EST
    the leadership.

    what do you think? (none / 0) (#48)
    by DXP on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:21:34 PM EST
    Will he win in Afghanistan? Is this a short term fix? Will he be able to say they are at least effective, like Cheney?

    If we are going to really DO this (none / 0) (#49)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:34:11 PM EST
    Afghanistan gig is there such thing as a short term fix?  It's just me but I always assumed the only way we would ever make any headway in Afghanistan at all was by empowering the populations of the region that believed in basic human rights and decency and then protecting that population from the terrors of Islamic Fundies.  If we ever hoped to DO anything at all in Afghanistan that would have any REAL affect we need a whole lot more sociologists, and torturers can go eff off forever.  The Taliban is a bunch of torturers.  What are we going to do....control the remaining unpledged disloyal to the Taliban population by being bigger torturers than Islamic Fundamentalists?  I don't know why Gates, Patreaus, and certainly the war criminal McChrystal are sitting at Obama's table....only Obama knows that and the Senate that confirmed them.

    Why are they at the table? (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by nycstray on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:47:09 PM EST
    Lack of experience.

    He said early on, in defense of his lack of experience, that he would hire people smarter than him. I don't know if he at first believes something is wrong, and then buys into their "advice/opinion/experience or what . . . " Oh, and if they please the right, all the better .. . . .


    This article from USA today (5.00 / 1) (#81)
    by oculus on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 12:00:43 AM EST
    will probably infuriate you as it did me.  U.S. increases troop numbers in Afghanistan.  IED attacks are the main cause of increased deaths of U.S. military there.  Now. NOW the big wigs are ordering up vehicles able to withstand IED attacks.

    USA Today


    It's called something like (none / 0) (#84)
    by Militarytracy on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 12:31:51 AM EST
    conservation of force, but I don't think that's what's it is actually called.  My brain is foggy tonight so I can't remember the exact wording for it.  Let's just say it isn't the Powell doctrine or have anything to do with having the necessary number of boots and resources on the ground before you attempt to physically secure an area.  But with the Bush administration we had about 50,000 times the amount of necesssary cash in the combat zone than what was actually needed.  I'm very discouraged with team Obama.  We probably should not do this Afghanistan thing.  Nobody in charge really knows long term good for the world what the hell they are doing.

    Is there much debate in the military? (none / 0) (#51)
    by DXP on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 06:46:33 PM EST
    Or other solutions being brought forth in a forceful manner?

    In the military right now? (none / 0) (#53)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:04:47 PM EST
    Nobody knows chit except that if you aren't special forces you aren't going to Afghanistan.  If you aren't black ops material you aren't wanted in Afghanistan. Since the military isn't a democracy a forceful manner is not encouraged when it comes to opinions outside of the inner offices of the Pentagon :)  Pissed off civilians have clout though, but doves only really coo and cry.  They are so lousy and pathetic at expressing "pissed".

    did you ever see the movie (none / 0) (#55)
    by DXP on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 07:14:04 PM EST
    "The Kite Runner"? If so, is that an accurate portrayal of the poverty, sexual torture and dominance of the Taliban?

    I don't know how accurate (none / 0) (#79)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 11:44:04 PM EST
    the work 'The Kite Runner' is in its portrayal of life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.  I have read the book and I did recently see a portion of the movie. I don't believe that any of the events in the book have been questioned and I do know that the Taliban has in the past often done public executions in the soccer stadiums.

    Does any other department (none / 0) (#69)
    by DXP on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 08:28:08 PM EST
    have a strong say, such as secretary of state? If so, do you know if Clinton supports these military actions?

    When Albright was our Sec of State (none / 0) (#80)
    by Militarytracy on Wed Jul 08, 2009 at 11:57:25 PM EST
    she seemed to make a large impact on our combat goals and policies.  Each Administration though is its own creature.  I don't know where the Clintons personally stand on the directions we seem to be treading into in Afghanistan.  Bill Clinton as a CIC seemed to be able to know how to address violence with force in a way that could yeild great successes for the world as a whole.  Without being a fly on the wall, who knows how the Clinton administration formulated its strategies in handling Bosnia/Kosovo.  I do know one thing.  A large chasm between Wes Clark's mind and his ideas of how America successfully uses her force had most of his peers standing way far away on the other side.  I wish I could say that a$$e$ like Cody wished Clark success in his missions, but they did not.  In fact, I think they despise Clark's successes and believe firmly that America's real victories will always lie in bombing areas of the globe we have a problem in back to the stone ages and a lot of blood being spilled seems to be a requirement for any equations involving REAL VICTORY.

    Thanks very much for the info MT (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by DXP on Thu Jul 09, 2009 at 11:25:51 AM EST
    I did have the opportunity to speak to the general who was Wes Clark's boss in the 90s and it reinforced your observations. He simply did not like Clark's rise to power or his hunger for political power. Or so he said. It seemed rather confined to the personal.

    It seems much of Afghanistan is already in the stone age so more bombing is just creating dust.