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Democrats Now Like Bush’s Terror Tactics

Salon chides the Democrats for giving Mr. Obama a pass on his Bush-like ways:

What exactly did Bush and Cheney do wrong?

Democratic and media elites attack Obama for departing from the prior administration’s Terrorism approach

Glenn Greenwald

Feb. 02, 2010

As I noted several days ago, it is not only Republicans — but Democratic and media establishment figures as well — who clearly crave the preservation of the Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism and civil liberties. When Bush’s popularity collapsed to historic lows, political and media elites pretended for awhile to object to his administration’s fear-based and radical policies as extremist and an assault on "our values." But that was all just such a transparent pretense. In those few instances where Obama has rejected the Bush/Cheney template, the outrage and hysteria from Democratic and media voices is pervasive, and is growing louder.

Just look at these illustrative incidents. Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell went on Fred Thompson’s radio show yesterday to demand that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed be put before a military commission — at Guantanamo. Over the weekend, Time’s Joe Klein lambasted the Obama DOJ, and embraced Bush’s former CIA and NSA Chief Michael Hayden, by objecting to the criminal charges and Constitutional rights afforded the accused Christmas Day bomber, with Klein decreeing: "the bomber is an enemy combatant. He doesn’t have Miranda rights."

MSNBC personalities Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie chatted yesterday with their boss, MSNBC Washington Bureau Chief Mark Whitaker, all agreeing that the decision to grant civilian trials for "Terrorists" is "a pure, self-inflicted wound." When Najibullah Zazi was arrested for allegedly plotting a serious Terrorist attack, The New Republic’s Michael Crowley said he was so frightened by this that he was open to torturing Zazi. Democratic Senators are threatening to join the GOP in cutting off funds for civilian trials. Democratic members of Congress joined with the GOP to prevent even modest reforms of the Patriot Act and other surveillance abuses. City officials compete with one another over who can be the most frightened and terrorized by Terrorists.

And The Washington Post’s Richard Cohen — who was so frightened by Terrorism that he wrote multiple screeds screeching that we must have vengeance on Saddam — devotes his entire column today to criticizing Obama for putting us In Grave Danger by rejecting a handful of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies (headlined: "Obama administration is tone-deaf to concerns about terrorism")…

Leave aside that Bush — like Obama — also tried some accused Terrorists in civilian trials and some before military commissions. Leave aside that the second-term Bush — like Obama — withdrew authorization for waterboarding. Leave aside the factually inaccurate claim that Obama is "ensuring that everyone gets the benefit of American civil liberties" when he is, in fact, detaining many people without any charges at all and putting many others before military commissions.

Beyond all those factual errors, look at what Cohen is saying: Bush "soiled America’s image," but what he did was right, just and necessary, and Obama should follow that — which is essentially what many Democratic Party and media elites are saying as well. Seriously: if you were a Bush follower, wouldn’t you feel as though you were owed a major apology for all the accusations and the fuss that came from Democrats and media figures, accusing you of supporting radical and Constitution-shredding policies when, it turns out, they actually crave those policies in order to feel safe? Doesn’t all of this bolster the Republican claim that those attacks on the Bush administration for civil liberties abuses were not due to genuine conviction, but rather for partisan gain (in the case of Democratic officials) and cheap, preening, wet-finger-in-the-air moralizing (in the case of media stars)?

Consider the example of military commissions. When the Bush administration unveiled those, the reaction from Democrats, progressives and media outlets was overwhelmingly and intensely negative, on the ground that military commissions (no matter what rules they followed) were appropriate only for "battlefield justice," when there was no other alternative. The consensus was that our normal system of justice — developed over two hundred years — was the only just and proper venue to try accused Terrorists, had been proven effective, and beyond that, the perception that we were inventing new and inferior tribunals of justice for Muslims would fuel Terrorism and make us more unsafe. What happened to all of that? Was there a single Democrat or progressive defending military commissions when Bush and Cheney unveiled them as their preferred method for trying Terrorists? Now, suddenly, Terrorists belong in military commissions — at GITMO? So the defining creations of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld approach are now the centerpieces of the Democratic and media consensus.

All of these attacks on the Obama administration really leave one wondering: what is it exactly that Bush and Cheney did wrong? Was it just the waterboarding (the official authorization for which was withdrawn several years before Bush left office and which, in any event, people like Richard Cohen and Michael Crowley still crave)? Everything else other than the "enhanced interrogation techniques" was good? What happened to all the profound talk about how they ruined our image in the world and violated our "core principles" and how we can simultaneously Stay Safe and adhere to our values — which happened to be a central theme of Obama’s successful presidential campaign? How can Democrats and media stars claim to find Bush and Cheney so distasteful as they simultaneously attack Obama for reversing their defining policies in a few isolated instances? In the areas of civil liberties and Terrorism, what exactly did Bush and Cheney do wrong?

It’s sometimes hard to tell, but Mr. Greenwald means to shame Mr. Obama and his liberal colleagues with this piece.

Indeed, our author is so obsessed with the evils of the ‘Patriot Act’ he wrote a book-length screed decrying it, How Would A Patriot Act, which is described by its publishers thusly:

How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok

Product Description

Then came September 11, 2001. Greenwald’s disinterest in politics was replaced by patriotism, and he supported the war in Afghanistan. He also gave President Bush the benefit of the doubt over his decision to invade Iraq. But, as he saw Americans and others being disappeared, jailed and tortured, without charges or legal representation, he began to worry. And when he learned his president had seized the power to spy on American citizens on American soil, without the oversight required by law, he could stand no more. At the heart of these actions, Greenwald saw unprecedented and extremist theories of presidential power, theories that flout the Constitution and make President Bush accountable to no one, and no law. How Would a Patriot Act? is one man’s story of being galvanized into action to defend America’s founding principles, and a reasoned argument for what must be done. Greenwald’s penetrating words should inspire a nation to defend the Constitution from a president who secretly bestowed upon himself the powers of a monarch…

You see, 9/11 turned Mr. Greenwald into a "patriot," who naturally began to worry that the people trying to destroy our country were not being given all the rights and privileges of American citizens. — That is real patriotism.

Still, it’s fun to see a baying at the moon liberal point out that his media colleagues and fellow Democrats excoriated Bush and Cheney for the exact same things they are now insisting we do.

This article was posted by Steve on Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Democrats Now Like Bush’s Terror Tactics”

  1. GTBurns says:

    A DEM defending Gitmo, I have not seen such hypocrasy since Latoya Jackson at the Michael’s memorial service

  2. proreason says:

    Greenwald might as well be from outer space.

    If he was a bug under my foot, I wouldn’t hesitate for a second.

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