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Marcy Wheeler is the author of Anatomy of Deceit: How the Bush Administration Used the Media to Sell the Iraq War and Out a Spy. At Salon, she writes Obama admits "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare”—but fails to offer way out:

Four years ago, President Obama gave a  seminal counterterrorism speech in front of the Constitution arguing we “uphold our most cherished values not only because doing so is right, but because it strengthens our country and it keeps us safe.” Today, amid controversies over his Administration’s killing of American citizens in drone strikes, efforts to break hunger strikes by Guantanamo Bay detainees who have long been cleared for transfer, and seizures of the call records of national security journalists, Obama tried to reclaim those cherished values in his fight against terror.

Marcy Wheeler
In a speech at the National Defense University, Obama tried to redefine that fight and at least rhetorically end the war. “We must define the nature and scope of this struggle, or else it will define us, mindful of James Madison’s warning that ‘No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.’”

In the speech, Obama proposed a number of policies that would return us closer to the values. He directed his aides to consider proposals—like a drone court or an additional Executive Branch review—to add oversight to targeted killing. He instructed Eric Holder to review Department of Justice guidelines “governing investigations that involve reporters” by July 12 (the only deadline in the speech). He even argued for the use of more foreign assistance rather than just military force in combating terrorism, though suggested people in both parties opposed such assistance.

Obama also promised to “engage Congress about the existing Authorization to Use Military Force, or AUMF, to determine how we can continue to fight terrorists without keeping America on a perpetual war-time footing“ and threatened to veto any proposal that expanded this war. Obama has failed to make good on such veto threats in the past, and he made no mention of the Iraq AUMF, which remains in force two and a half years after the last troops were withdrawn from Iraq. So it remains to be seen whether his stated commitment to rework the AUMF will survive the political difficulties it has not in the past.

Obama’s most substantive proposals recommitted to closing Guantánamo Bay, a commitment that seemed to arise out of a focus on his own legacy. “[H]istory will cast a harsh judgment on this aspect of our fight against terrorism, and those of us who fail to end it,” he reflected. […]

For all the answers Obama did offer today—some convincing, others not so much—ultimately some of the big questions remain.


Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2009Torture: This shouldn't need to be said:

Let's put this straight right off the bat: favoring the use of torture is not a political position, it's a mental illness.

Any further discussion of torture should be unnecessary. However, since our our national media seems to be enthusiastically pimping depravity as a governing principle, we might as well point out that the guys that have been there, done that, seen the elephant show and lived to come home? They say it doesn't work, isn't worth it, and they want nothing to do with it.

If you need further evidence, check out Mike Ritz, a former SERE instructor who worked with our servicemen and women to prepare them for harsh interrogations torture, and who went on to found his own private "stress laboratory" where he could "use just about any technique" he had read about to "see what kind of results he could get." Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator who questioned prisoners in several locations, including Abu Ghraib. In other words, these are two people who have tortured other people, neither of them is shy about that fact, and they are willing to talk about that experience. Both men appeared on NPR's Tell Me More (audio link). The guys who have really done this stuff to actual human beings do not exactly back up the words of American's biggest Dick.

First off, they discussed the difference between what service people in the intelligence field had been trained to do, and what they were then asked to do by the Bush administration.


Tweet of the Day:

The fast food workers are told: "Get more education". The adjuncts are told: "What, you thought all that education would get you a job?"
@sarahkendzior via web



On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Greg Dworkin on the lingering controversies and the variations in polling on the AP story. Also: the strange case of Josh Barro. On the IRS, Republicans now insist the President knew all about it, and if he didn't, that's evidence of a cover-up, too. Make your own untraceable AK-47 at a "build party." McCain looks to defuse a "nuclear option" showdown. Lamar! pretends not to see the difference between the ACA & Iran-Contra. A shocking chart on the shift in sources of federal revenues. "Why Private Schools Are Dying Out." When it comes to income inequality, the Medicis were pikers!


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