News & Politics

Bad News Bears; Obama: Prisoners Have No Rights

Obama's latest disturbing move makes him seem more like a bullshit artist than the moral voice we heard when he was a candidate.

Yesterday we ran: 5 Great Progressive Moves by Obama That You Might Have Missed, by Alexander Zaitchik, drawing attention to a handful of the Obama decisions that we should be grateful about in the post-Bush era. But wouldn't you know it. As soon as you give the guy some props, he whacks you in the face with something considerably more evil. Salon's Joan Walsh has it down when she notes she was spooked by Charlie Savage's disturbing piece on signs the new president might ultimately back Bush-Cheney terror policies like extraordinary rendition and indefinite detention of terror suspects in the New York Times. But she was trying to give Obama the benefit of the doubt since it was still theoretical. Well it ain't theory any more. As of late Friday, the Obama administration has now taken action, and it's appalling. He's backed the Bush administration claim that terror suspects held at Bagram Air Force base in Afghanistan have no constitutional rights, according to the Associated Press.

In a two-sentence court filing, the Justice Department said it agreed that detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. courts to challenge their detention. The filing shocked human rights attorneys.

"The hope we all had in President Obama to lead us on a different path has not turned out as we'd hoped," said Tina Monshipour Foster, a human rights attorney representing a detainee at the Bagram Airfield. "We all expected better."

Well yes, we all expected better, and on a lot of fronts. It is tough times all over, but I can remember being very moved attending an Obama speech when he said more or less that the irresponsible and perhaps illegal anti-terrorist policies of the Bush administration were, in part, responsible for the decline of America at home and abroad. When he was president, that all would change. Well, along with his statements on NAFTA and other topics, Obama is sounding too much like a bullshit artist, and a lot less like the inspiring moral voice he was when running for office. Given all the bad news around, it is not a happy day when one of the few good things in our lives -- the Obama presidency -- is making our mouths run sour.

Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.
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