Well, I'm just going to say it: Obama gives a very nice speech, but his plans worry me. Ever see "Minority Report," the movie with Tom Cruise? Set i
Well, I'm just going to say it: Obama gives a very nice speech, but his plans worry me. Ever see "Minority Report," the movie with Tom Cruise? Set in the future, he works for the Department of Pre-Crime. The police use technology to predict who will commit crimes, and they arrest them before the crimes happen.
Don't pretty this up, folks. This is exactly the position Obama expressed in his speech today, and if we keep silent simply because he's a Democrat, well, we're not doing our job as citizens of this democratic republic.
I know it's a mess, but the fact is that this isn't really that difficult, except in the usual beltway kabuki political sense. There are literally tens of thousands of potential terrorists all over the world who could theoretically harm America. We cannot protect ourselves from that possibility by keeping the handful we have in custody locked up forever, whether in Guantanamo or some Super Max prison in the US. It's patently absurd to obsess over these guys like it makes us even the slightest bit safer to have them under indefinite lock and key so they "can't kill Americans."
The mere fact that we are doing this makes us less safe because the complete lack of faith we show in our constitution and our justice systems is what fuels the idea that this country is weak and easily terrified. There is no such thing as a terrorist suspect who is too dangerous to be set free. They are a dime a dozen, they are all over the world and for every one we lock up there will be three to take his place. There is not some finite number of terrorists we can kill or capture and then the "war" will be over and the babies will always be safe. This whole concept is nonsensical.
The real terrorists, I'm afraid, are the self-serving hawks who promise to explode a political dirty bomb in the halls of the capitol every time someone tries to be sensible about American foreign policy and national security. They are still running things. They have always run things. And the sorry fact is that their dominance is a decades long model of bipartisan comity.
So now, we're going to have huge numbers of people who spent the last eight years vehemently opposing such ideas running around arguing that we're waging a War against Terrorism, a "War President" must have the power to indefinitely lock people away who allegedly pose a "threat to Americans" but haven't violated any laws, our normal court system can't be trusted to decide who is guilty, terrorists don't deserve the same rights as Americans, the primary obligation of the President is to "keep us safe," and -- most of all -- anyone who objects to or disagrees with any of that is a leftist purist ideologue who doesn't really care about national security.
In other words, arguments and rhetoric that were once confined to Fox News/Bush-following precincts will now become mainstream Democratic argumentation in service of defending what Obama is doing. That's the most harmful part of this -- it trains the other half of the citizenry to now become fervent admirers and defenders of some rather extreme presidential "war powers."
No matter how much Obama tries to blame this on the Cheney torture policies (which created that inadmissible evidence), two wrongs don't make a right. What he's proposing is against one of this country's core principles, which is habeas corpus. No matter how many guidelines that Obama and his administration try to impose, there is nothing in the Constitution that would permit the indefinite jailing of people "who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes" but who "nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States" -- nor should their be. Not even if we ever do develop the mind-reading powers of a "thought police."
This is why people need to keep the pressure on Obama -- even those inclined to view his presidency favorably. Because while clearly his overall approach to torture and detention issues are "on the right track" as opposed to the very "wrong track" of Cheney and Bush, it is so easy inside the Beltway to start veering off the rails. Making people accountable for the torture and Guantanamo debacles of the Bush years requires the American people constantly holding our new president accountable, too.