A Dissonance Between Obamas Words and Actions
In the 3 years Barack Obama has been commander in chief of the US empire, a lot of people have been impressed with Obama's way with words; partly because of the noticeable contrast with with George Bush's practiced malapropisms and deliberate mispronunciations (i.e. "NUKE u lar").
But look closer at Obama's words, and, even more importantly, his actions, to determine how people who care about humanity assess this president.
Joe Scarry reports in Eric Through the Looking Glass that a person who watched Obama's Attorney General Eric Holder give a long-awaited speech on targeted killing Monday at Northwestern University Law School, told protesters outside, in what seems succinct and accurate based on the transcript, that Holder:
"pretty much said he can kill anyone he wants."
I could stop right here, and sum that up as the effective Obama legacy. President Obama has used targeted assassination repeatedly, and has casually tossed off comments that "not many" civilians are killed in the process. He ordered the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki without charge, indictment, trial, or sentencing, and also killed his 16 year old son and an associate this past fall - all U.S. citizens - as well as uncounted other human beings in hundreds of U.S. drone strikes since 2009.
Glenn Greenwald related candidate Obama's words:
He stood up on the Senate floor and denounced Bush’s Guantanamo detentions on the ground that a “perfectly innocent individual could be held and could not rebut the Government’s case and has no way of proving his innocence.” He spoke of “the terror I would feel if one of my family members were rounded up in the middle of the night and sent to Guantanamo without even getting one chance to ask why they were being held and being able to prove their innocence.” He mocked the right-wing claim “that judicial inquiry is an antique, trivial and dispensable luxury.”
Greenwald goes on to say that perhaps it wasn't 9/11/01 when "everything changed," but 1/20/09. As World Can't Wait said in our 2010 series of ads, Crimes are Crimes No Matter Who Does Them,
In some respects, [Obama] is worse than Bush. First, because Obama has claimed the right to assassinate American citizens whom he suspects of “terrorism,” merely on the grounds of his own suspicion or that of the CIA, something Bush never claimed publicly. Second, Obama says that the government can detain you indefinitely, even if you have been exonerated in a trial, and he has publicly floated the idea of “preventive detention." Third, the Obama administration, in expanding the use of unmanned drone attacks, argues that the U.S. has the authority under international law to use such lethal force and extrajudicial killing in sovereign countries with which it is not at war.
I highly recommend these three pieces on Holder's defense of US presidential assassination orders:
Kevin Gostzola, Holder’s Regressive Defense of Targeted Killings
Glenn Greenwald, Attorney General Holder Defends Execution Without Charges
David Swanson, Murder Is Legal, Says Eric Holder
by Debra Sweet, Director, World Can't Wait