I wrote a comment on Orange and thought it was worth saying here. I first became aware of this tactic from reading David Sirota and Big Tent Democrat in late 2006, when Obama was first talking about running. I resisted in my understanding,[...]
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Speaking in front of the original U.S. Constitution at the National Archives this morning, President Obama delivered a lengthy, detailed speech outlining his approach to national security. Obama criticized Bush’s legal system at that convicted only three terrorists in seven years. He said it was “clear” that, “rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security.”
Discussing the problem of what to do with the detainees currently imprisoned at Guantanamo, Obama reminded the audience that the problem was caused by the erroneous decision to open the extra-legal prison camp in the first place:
Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release seventeen Uighur detainees took place last fall — when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents. In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.
He also seemed to mildly rebuke Congress — which yesterday barred the use of any funds to transfer detainees to the United States — for making “decisions within a climate of fear.” He challenged them to remember their oath:
As our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These issues are fodder for 30-second commercials and direct mail pieces that are designed to frighten. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions from within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. … I have confidence that the American people are more interested in doing what is right to protect this country than in political posturing. I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution — so did each and every member of Congress. Together we have a responsibility to enlist our values in the effort to secure our people, and to leave behind the legacy that makes it easier for future Presidents to keep this country safe.
video details and more
Obama said that his administration “will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders.” He disputed conservatives’ claims that U.S. prisons could never accommodate terror detainees as “not rational.”
The second decision that I made was to order the closing of the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay.
For over seven years, we have detained hundreds of people at Guantanamo. During that time, the system of Military Commissions at Guantanamo succeeded in convicting a grand total of three suspected terrorists. Let me repeat that: three convictions in over seven years. Instead of bringing terrorists to justice, efforts at prosecution met setbacks, cases lingered on, and in 2006 the Supreme Court invalidated the entire system. Meanwhile, over five hundred and twenty-five detainees were released from Guantanamo under the Bush Administration. Let me repeat that: two-thirds of the detainees were released before I took office and ordered the closure of Guantanamo.
There is also no question that Guantanamo set back the moral authority that is America?s strongest currency in the world. Instead of building a durable framework for the struggle against al Qaeda that drew upon our deeply held values and traditions, our government was defending positions that undermined the rule of law. Indeed, part of the rationale for establishing Guantanamo in the first place was the misplaced notion that a prison there would be beyond the law ? a proposition that the Supreme Court soundly rejected. Meanwhile, instead of serving as a tool to counter-terrorism, Guantanamo became a symbol that helped al Qaeda recruit terrorists to its cause. Indeed, the existence of Guantanamo likely created more terrorists around the world than it ever detained.
So the record is clear: rather than keep us safer, the prison at Guantanamo has weakened American national security. It is a rallying cry for our enemies. It sets back the willingness of our allies to work with us in fighting an enemy that operates in scores of countries. By any measure, the costs of keeping it open far exceed the complications involved in closing it. That is why I argued that it should be closed throughout my campaign. And that is why I ordered it closed within one year.
The third decision that I made was to order a review of all the pending cases at Guantanamo.
I knew when I ordered Guantanamo closed that it would be difficult and complex. There are 240 people there who have now spent years in legal limbo. In dealing with this situation, we do not have the luxury of starting from scratch. We are cleaning up something that is ? quite simply ? a mess; a misguided experiment that has left in its wake a flood of legal challenges that my Administration is forced to deal with on a constant basis, and that consumes the time of government officials whose time should be spent on better protecting our country.
Indeed, the legal challenges that have sparked so much debate in recent weeks in Washington would be taking place whether or not I decided to close Guantanamo. For example, the court order to release seventeen Uighur detainees took place last fall ? when George Bush was President. The Supreme Court that invalidated the system of prosecution at Guantanamo in 2006 was overwhelmingly appointed by Republican Presidents. In other words, the problem of what to do with Guantanamo detainees was not caused by my decision to close the facility; the problem exists because of the decision to open Guantanamo in the first place.
There are no neat or easy answers here. But I can tell you that the wrong answer is to pretend like this problem will go away if we maintain an unsustainable status quo. As President, I refuse to allow this problem to fester. Our security interests won?t permit it. Our courts won?t allow it. And neither should our conscience.
Now, over the last several weeks, we have seen a return of the politicization of these issues that have characterized the last several years. I understand that these problems arouse passions and concerns. They should. We are confronting some of the most complicated questions that a democracy can face. But I have no interest in spending our time re-litigating the policies of the last eight years. I want to solve these problems, and I want to solve them together as Americans.
And we will be ill-served by some of the fear-mongering that emerges whenever we discuss this issue. Listening to the recent debate, I?ve heard words that are calculated to scare people rather than educate them; words that have more to do with politics than protecting our country. So I want to take this opportunity to lay out what we are doing, and how we intend to resolve these outstanding issues. I will explain how each action that we are taking will help build a framework that protects both the American people and the values that we hold dear. And I will focus on two broad areas: first, issues relating to Guantanamo and our detention policy; second, issues relating to security and transparency.
Let me begin by disposing of one argument as plainly as I can: we are not going to release anyone if it would endanger our national security, nor will we release detainees within the United States who endanger the American people. Where demanded by justice and national security, we will seek to transfer some detainees to the same type of facilities in which we hold all manner of dangerous and violent criminals within our borders ? highly secure prisons that ensure the public safety. As we make these decisions, bear in mind the following fact: nobody has ever escaped from one of our federal ?supermax? prisons, which hold hundreds of convicted terrorists. As Senator Lindsey Graham said: ?The idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational.? [...]
As our efforts to close Guantanamo move forward, I know that the politics in Congress will be difficult. These issues are fodder for 30-second commercials and direct mail pieces that are designed to frighten. I get it. But if we continue to make decisions from within a climate of fear, we will make more mistakes. And if we refuse to deal with these issues today, then I guarantee you that they will be an albatross around our efforts to combat terrorism in the future. I have confidence that the American people are more interested in doing what is right to protect this country than in political posturing. I am not the only person in this city who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution ? so did each and every member of Congress. Together we have a responsibility to enlist our values in the effort to secure our people, and to leave behind the legacy that makes it easier for future Presidents to keep this country safe.
SeriApparently, Limbaugh has been on quite a tear for a while, mocking the way Nancy Pelosi looks. Recently he said that Pelosi was shaking from "botox withdrawal," and back in January Limbaugh said he could keep the birth rate down by putting pictures of Pelosi in every hotel room. So Ronald Reagan, Jr. struck back. Via Slog:
"Limbaugh hasn't had a natural erection since the Nixon Administration; think he's compensating for something? Now, I wouldn't pick on him for any of this stuff, not his blubbiness, not his man-boobs, not his inability to have a natural erection?none of that stuff?to me, off limits until! until! Mr. Limbaugh, you turn that sort of gun on somebody else?once you start doing that, you're fair game, fat boy. Absolutely, you jiggly pile of mess. You're just fair game, and you're going to get it, too."Again, putting the sheer comedy of this aside, having Reagan's son enter the fray to attack Limbaugh, which will only incite Limbaugh more, keeps the Republican story line on one of our three favorite Republicans, Limbaugh, Cheney and Gingrich. America can't stand any of the three. So the more the story keeps on them, the more Americans spurn the GOP.
You can watch it here.
Comment about it in this thread.
Here's what might you might call the nut graf of Dick Cheney's forthcoming speech, which was released a little earlier:
So we're left to draw one of two conclusions - and here is the great dividing line in our current debate over national security. You can look at the facts and conclude that the comprehensive strategy has worked, and therefore needs to be continued as vigilantly as ever. Or you can look at the same set of facts and conclude that 9/11 was a one-off event - coordinated, devastating, but also unique and not sufficient to justify a sustained wartime effort. Whichever conclusion you arrive at, it will shape your entire view of the last seven years, and of the policies necessary to protect America for years to come.
In other words, if you oppose Dick Cheney's approach to the war on terror, you're not taking 9/11 seriously.
You can see why Cheney would want to frame the debate this way.
11:20 AM ... Cheney starts things off classy with some snide comments about Obama's speech length. 11:24 AM ... Transcript of Cheney's speech. So far basically 9/11, 9/11, 9/11 sort of echoes of Rudyism. 11:27 AM ... Still trying. Cheney hinting at[...]
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Since its inception, the National Council for a New America (NCNA), the latest effort by the GOP to rebrand their shrinking, sinking party by uniting mostly worn out, angry white men, has added another name to their all-star lineup; Newt Gingrich. And you can't get much angrier or whiter than Newt. According to a NCNA spokesman:
It is generally recognized that Speaker Gingrich is a man who’s putting forth bold ideas in the party. It’s only natural that he would join an organization that seeks to apply conservative principles to everyday challenges. That’s what Speaker Gingrich has been doing for the past couple of years.
Gingrich joins other bold thinkers like John McCain, Jeb Bush, and Haley Barbour as the new faces of the Republican Party. And if the NCNA ever stops getting pounded by other angry old white men, they may want to pause and think about what's wrong with their entire concept.
What a pleasure to see my good friend Michael Lind is mellowing with age! He doesn't take sides or swat us all down as in days of yore, but instead tries to bring us together, and more, he does a pretty good job of it.
I agree with Lind that Roosevelt was far more realistic than Wilson and hence would sup with the devil were it necessary. Even Wilson was open to compromise, however. The League as it emerged in late April 1919 was not the League that Wilson hoped for in several key respects for he abandoned his insistence that democracies dominate it in favor of a pledge from those states that joined that they would abide by the peace keeping regulations of the organization and that 2/3 of those already members would accept such a pledge as convincing. But it was FDR who decided that the Occupations of Japan and Germany should change them in fundamental ways internally (democratic regime change linked to economic openness), and called for the meeting at Bretton Woods--developments that were quintessentially Wilsonian. The result as John Ikenberry has argued in other books and articles was a "two track" Cold War, where the US sought to promote a Wilsonian order within the "free world" while containing communism without.
I also agree with Lind that Ikenberry and Slaughter are the purest of Wilsonians when they argued in late 2006 that a Concert of Democracies should be created outside of the UN, not to replace it but so as to provide military muscle to promote the expansion of democracy worldwide. But it should be noted that despite what they say (Slaughter likes to say in a very Wilsonian manner that America will have to sacrifice some of its sovereignty to international agreements), in fact it is the USA that would necessarily lead such a Concert. Could that not be a slippery slope by which American unilateralism is rather automatically backed by the concert? If so, then the difference with neoconservative thinking is one of means, not ends. Ikenberry and Slaughter have improved the neocon approach much more than they have changed it. It is instructive in this respect that John McCain picked up the Ikenberry/Slaughter idea in his campaign, renaming it the League of Democracies, a development approved by the neoconservatives in his camp.
All of which brings us back to the nature of Wilsonianism. In my thinking, Lind is not "ideologically correct." One may distinguish Wilson from Roosevelt, but by the 1990s in the hands of neoliberals like Ikenberry and Slaughter (and my book A Pact with the Devil names many more, chapters 4-6) liberal internationalism had become more theoretically coherent, thanks in large part to democratic peace theory. Hence it becomes increasingly difficult to pick and choose among the constituent elements of Wilsonianism--its call for an open economic door, its democracy promotion, its multilateralism, and its call for American leadership of such a system. They all fit neatly together but with pride of place going to democracy promotion (without which the other elements are unlikely to operate easily).
But this does not disqualify Bush from being a Wilsonian because he spurned multilateralism. His belief (or at least that of the neocons who correctly I believe claim authorship of the Bush Doctrine) was that American leadership could replace multilateralism's "tying down Gulliver by the Lilliputians" but that once successful in reforming not just Iraq but "the Broader Middle East" such leadership would engender a new form of multilateralism minus the genuflections in the direction of the US sacrificing some of its sovereignty. It was Krauthammer, I think, who coined the telling phrase "unilateralism is the high road to multilateralism," or in other words nothing succeeds like success and those in the Old Europe who criticize us will soon be ashamed of themselves. In Wilson's time too, I would maintain, all his talk of multilateralism would in fact have amounted to an American hegemonic order, which might have been a good thing to be sure, but would not have been an egalitarian structure with some kind of majority voting when decisions to use force had to be made. Here is a principal reason the Latin American states turned down Wilson's overtures for a Pan American Union or Treaty in 1915/1916. They saw well enough where it was headed--to a blank check for Washington to intervene when it would in the name of preserving democratic governments. Multilateralism was thus a fig leaf over American hegemony--not a bad thing necessarily, I repeat, but not the kind of multilateralism we see today in the European Union where no hegemon presides (perhaps unfortunately).
Bush was therefore not, as Lind puts it, "half Wilsonian" because a) he rightly insisted on the primacy of democracy promotion in invading Iraq; and b) he blew the cover of multilateralism as a combination of equals and stepped forth as a "leader" who expected that with success his followers would be legion--that is multilateralism would be reinvigorated but now with American hegemony broadly recognized and respected. The point is important for today because with so many of those in the Obama administration the call for multilateralism is being shouted from the rooftops as if it were a basic contradiction of the Bush administration. But is it? For me the test case will be relations with Russia. If and when we start to hear more and more about that country as an autocracy and a threat, combined with calls to bring "democratic" Georgia and Ukraine into NATO then we will know that the Wilsonian moment is far from over.
Actress Lucy Gordon has hanged herself in her apartment in Paris, France. Read more on Lucy Gordon?s suicide below.The British actress, Lucy Gordon, was in movies such as Spider-Man 3, Serendipity, and Frost, was found dead Wednesday, days before her[...]
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The NYT is out with another report of the Pentagon stat that 14% of those released after being held in Gitmo subsequently engaged in terrorism.An unreleased Pentagon report concludes that about one in seven of the 534 prisoners already transferred abroad[...]
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