Candidate Obama said, “Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.”
As in so many other cases in which Barack Obama has said one thing and has done another after becoming president, the Obama administration prosecuted the National Security Agency official, Thomas Drake, on a weak case involving Drake taking classified information home. The case eventually collasped. The targeting of WikiLeaks created a potential threat to journalists and others who might otherwise expose corruption and governmental abuse.
PFC Bradley Manning, who exposed a U.S. helicopter-led assault in Iraq, which has the earmarks of an attack on civilians, was held in solitary confinement and treated as an “enemy combatant.” Manning was alone in a cell for 23 hours, forbidden to exercise ad deprived of sleep. When asked about widespread reports of horrible abuse against Manning, including making him stand naked in his cell, Obama said he had checked with the Pentagon and had been assured that Manning had been treated in a lawful manner.
Jane Mayer of the New Yorker, wrote in May 2011 that President Obama pursued leak prosecutions with “a surprising relentlessness.” Gabriel Schoenfeld, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute in Washington, DC, has said that Obama “has presided over the most draconian crackdown on leaks in our history — even more so than Nixon!”
While pursuing whistleblowers with “a surprising relentlessness,” the Obama administration has turned a blind eye to potentially great crimes committed in the prior presidential administration.
The president takes an oath to defend the Constitution and as head of the executive branch of government he is charged with the execution of the nation’s laws. Yet early in his administration, Obama made it very clear that there would be no investigations of former President George W. Bush and his high officials for commission of possible high crimes against the state. Obama said he wanted to look forward, rather than backward.
In February 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder confusedly melded criminal activity and policy by saying, “We don’t want to criminalize policy differences that might exist.” The Nation magazine was editorially prompted to to say that Holder’s statement “dismisses legitimate demands for accountability as mere partisan or ideological manuvers. …”
President George W. Bush made a statement in which he assured the public that wiretapping could not be done without a court order. Yet in spite of his open acknowledgment of the law, Bush engaged in warrentless wiretappoing. Yet the current Justice Department has taken no action.
Both President Bush and his Vice President Dick Cheney have publicly admitted that they authorized torture and there is documentary evidence of torture being authorized at the highest levels of government — euphemistically labeled “enhanced interrogation” — and Cheney has, at numerous times, heaped praise on the efficacy of waterboarding.
Even the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and/or was implicated in the attacks of 9/11 should have been investigated for possible falsification of evidence.
There are others who should have been made subject to criminal investigations. These individuals include former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who wrote a memo specifying various means of harsh interrogation that clearly violated the Geneva Conventions. Major General Geoffrey D. Miller was the originator of extreme methods of interrogation at Guantanamo Bay and then took those methods to Abu Ghraib in Iraq. Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez authorized the use of military dogs, temperature extremes, reversed sleep patterns and sensory deprivation as interrogation methods. There are others in either the military or civilian chains of command who were also culpable of fostering extreme violence against detainees. Yet low-level enlisted military personnel have been the only ones who have been criminally prosecuted.
Torture will be discussed in a later blog and the despicable nature of what was done to detainees will be greatly amplified.