Saturday, January 08, 2011

A.C.L.U. (Restore the rule of law)

In retrospect, the 2008 Obama presidential campaign looks like a slick marketing campaign. "Change we can believe in" had to be dreamt up by a marketing executive after extensive polling, the iconic poster and color schemes all look like they came out of a corporate campaign. It's no wonder there has been so little change. Coming from the one-party system of the Democratic Republican party, what more could we expect? The Democratic wing of the one-party state represents straightforward corporate capitalism with a populist survival instinct, while the Republican wing of the party represents crazy cowboy capitalism. The rulers have found it sufficient to allow the public, once every 2 to 4 years, a chance to flip this binary switch to the other setting and manufacture sufficient consent around that choice. Third parties have only been able to drain off a little of the power from the binary party system. I'm glad I didn't vote for Obama or send money to him. Money, if one has it to donate, should go to Democracy Now, the ACLU, or, if possible, perhaps Wikileaks, since they are the ones to do what was once the work of a free press. Third parties in the US should unite with a program to break the one-binary-party system with Preferential Voting. In the best case, candidates of the Democratic-Republicans would also feel pressured to support Preferential Voting in order to win election, and local, state, and national offices. This would at least have a chance to break the system open to free competition by third parties.

When Obama took office, there was some hope that he would enforce the laws and defend the Constitution of the United States, arresting war criminals and torturers of the previous administration. Ideally, this could have meant reviewing any and all laws passed during the previous administration, having referendums on judges and appointees of the previous eight years, reviewing the qualifications of all federal employees added during the Bush administration (a great cost-cutting measure, and they can be replaced with non-nutjob Obama appointees). None of this was to happen, as the Obamas decided to look forward rather than backwards. Given the pile of things to do, and the choices that had to be made, that may have been the best and most positive choice. Perhaps it will even work politically for Obama in 2012. In any case, the moment when justice was possible is gone. Now they will have to deal with the crap thrown at them by a Republican congress.

This is from the ACLU website. It is full of hope for justice, but the hope that torture would be properly dealt with seems to be fading as people accept the reality of an Obama administration that has little or no more respect for civil liberties, open government, or human rights than the previous administration did.

In order to restore the rule of law and the credibility of the American justice system, there must be a thorough investigation of those who ordered and authorized the Bush administration's torture policies. Torture is a crime, and the fact that crimes were committed during the interrogations of detainees can no longer be doubted or debated. Despite the voluminous evidence that senior Bush administration officials authorized torture, the only people who have been held accountable for this maltreatment of prisoners are low-ranking soldiers. President Obama has said that no one is above the law, and Attorney General Eric Holder has said that the Department of Justice will follow the facts wherever they lead. It's time to hold them to their word.

Until the guilty parties are held accountable and justice is done, the government will just get more and more closed and corrupt. Obama, if he is not making it better, is making it worse. This political system tends gradually toward an imperial presidency.

Although he has not been intelligent, resourceful, cunning, or creative enough to find a way to close Guantanamo Bay, President Obama has sought to leave some avenues open for future action. The indefinite detention of people without charge or trial is a gross violation of human rights under the US Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Unconventional solutions are better than the status quo. If they cannot be returned to their home countries, airdrop them back into the rural Afghanistan where they were found, or Iraq, or Turkmenistan, or tag them and release them in Guam, the Antarctic Research Station, Brunei, or somewhere. Obama must be afraid of the political costs of freeing illegally held people.

1 comment:

Murnablogs said...

Your suggestions in the concluding paragraph made me laugh uncontrollably, not that it detracts from the seriousness of your main point. You nailed it.