You are hereObama Administration
By Dave Lindorff
As someone who has spent nearly three frustrating years actively advocating the impeachment of President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for their many crimes and abuses of power, I have to admit that not only did it not happen, but that the likelihood of their being indicted and brought to trial now that they have left office is exceedingly slim.
This week, I released "Reining in the Imperial Presidency," a 486-page report detailing the abuses and excesses of the Bush administration and recommending steps to address them. Arthur Schlesinger Jr. popularized the term "imperial presidency" in the 1970s to describe an executive who had assumed more power than the Constitution allows and circumvented the checks and balances fundamental to our three-branch system of government. Until recently, the Nixon administration seemed to represent a singular embodiment of the idea. Unfortunately, it is clear that the threat of the imperial presidency lives on and, indeed, reached new heights under George W. Bush.
"...in Maryland, where the most recent revelation du jour is that state police dubbed bicycle advocates seeking additional bike lanes "terrorists" and branded the DC Anti-War Network a white supremacist group.
While the country's economic infrastructure gyrates, the infrastructure to squelch political dissent quietly thrives after years of post-9/11 behind-the-scenes buttressing.
The Bush administration will long be remembered for placing the country on war footing abroad, but it should also be remembered for liberating the forces of political suppression at home.
Barack Obama, the new US president, will engage in "tough and direct" diplomacy with Iran "without preconditions", the White House has said.
The Obama administration said in a website statement on Wednesday that it aimed to use "the power of American diplomacy" over what it called "Iran's illicit nuclear programme, support for terrorism, and threats towards Israel".
"Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress," the statement said.
Israel, Palestinian Authority Welcome Obama Plans for Peace
By Robert Berger | Voice of America
Both Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank have welcomed President Obama's announcement that he will "aggressively" pursue peace in the Middle East.
"It must instill in us a sense of urgency, as history shows us that strong and sustained American engagement can bridge divides and build the capacity that supports progress," he said.
Mr. Obama appointed former senator George Mitchell as Mideast envoy and said he would visit the region soon.
Suspected U.S. missile strike kills 10 in Pakistan
From Reza Sayah | CNN
Ten people were killed Friday evening in a suspected U.S. missile strike in Pakistan's tribal region, said a local political official and two military sources.
The suspected strike would be the first since President Obama took office Tuesday.
The attack happened about 5:15 p.m. (7:15 a.m. ET) in a village near Mir Ali, North Waziristan, said Nasim Dawar, the local official.
North Waziristan is one of seven districts in Pakistan's ungoverned tribal region along the Afghan border, where the Taliban and other militants have set up a haven.
The region has seen a spike in the number of aerial attacks by unmanned drones on what are believed to be Taliban targets.
Mohammed Jawad and Obama's efforts to suspend military commissions
By Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com
This is a very good and important step -- not only because of its substance, but also because it was something Obama did almost immediately, even before his first full day in office:
In one of its first actions, the Obama administration instructed military prosecutors late Tuesday to seek a 120-day suspension of legal proceedings involving detainees at the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba -- a clear break with the approach of the outgoing Bush administration. . . .
Such a request may not be automatically granted by military judges, and not all defense attorneys may agree to such a suspension. But the move is a first step toward closing a detention facility and system of military trials that became a worldwide symbol of the Bush administration's war on terrorism and its unyielding attitude toward foreign and domestic critics. . . .
The motion prompted a clear sense of disappointment among some of the military officials here who had tried to make a success of the system, despite charges that the military tribunals were a legal netherworld. Military prosecutors and other commission officials here were told not to speak to the news media, according to a Pentagon official.
"It's over; I don't want to say any more," said one official involved in the process.
A new start with the Muslim world, as pledged by President Obama in his inaugural speech, has a sine qua non: a Palestinian settlement, a quest that has eluded the last five U.S. presidents. Following Israel's invasion of Gaza and its 22-day campaign of airstrikes, tank and artillery bombardment that left 1,300 Palestinians killed for the loss of only 13 Israeli soldiers, a Palestinian state remains a diplomatic chimera.
Former U.S. attorney David Iglesias - one of nine U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration in 2006 - has a new job.
Iglesias has been hired to prosecute suspected terrorists held in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for the Office of Military Commissions. He was reactivated as a member of the U.S. Naval Reserve JAG corps as part of a special prosecution team for Guantanamo detainees.
"...conduct a comprehensive review of the lawful options available to the Federal Government with respect to the apprehension, detention, trial, transfer, release, or other disposition of individuals captured or apprehended in connection with armed conflicts and counter-terrorism operations, and to identify such options as are consistent with the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice...."
"...All executive directives, orders, and regulations inconsistent with this order, including but not limited to those issued to or by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) from September 11, 2001, to January 20, 2009, concerning detention or the interrogation of detained individuals, are revoked to the extent of their inconsistency with this order...."
President Obama signed executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said.
The orders, which are the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects. They require an immediate review of the 245 detainees still held at the naval base in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to determine if they should be transferred, released or prosecuted.
Barack Obama's first acts as president included signing three orders today that could open public access to documents and records that had been closed off during the Bush administration.
Obama reversed George W. Bush's restrictions on access to records of former presidents. He also told the Justice Department to write new guidance to agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to improve transparency, and gave top officials in his administration four months to create a new "Open Government Directive" that he said would go beyond the requirements of the open records law.
Below are excerpts from a letter Lawrence Summers, director-designate of the National Economic Council, sent to the leaders of the House and Senate about President-elect Barack Obama's reforms to the Troubled Asset Relief Program.
These are the changes that Barack Obama is committed to making happen. In particular, he will call for:
• Use our full arsenal of tools to get credit flowing again to families and businesses.
President Barack Obama's administration asked all federal agencies and departments to stop any pending regulatory changes until a review can be conducted, Reuters reported Tuesday. A memorandum, signed by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, was sent to agencies and departments to stop all pending regulations until a legal and policy review can be conducted by the new administration, the news agency said.
Washington, DC – On the morning of the historic inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the United States , members of Military Families Speak Out are expressing hope that a new President might finally take the actions needed to bring the war in Iraq to an end. But families also have deep concerns about the incoming administration's stated intention of continuing that occupation by leaving tens of thousands of troops in Iraq indefinitely.
Larry and Judy Syverson, members of Military Families Speak Out from Richmond, VA will be attending the inauguration. Judy Syverson said:
By Dave Lindorff
Maybe symbolism is just symbolism, but the optimist in me says that Barack Obama's invitation to former Communist and life-long political activist Pete Seeger (along with Bruce Springstein and 89-year-old Pete's full-throated grandson Tao) to sing Woody Guthrie's anthem This Land is Your Land, and the fact that the once blacklisted folk legend chose to do not just the feel-good, approved-for-public-school-music-class-use verses, but all the verses, including Woody's long-censored "commie" verses, and that Obama was right there singing those verses along with the rest of the million people on the Mall, has to mean something.
Rev. Gene Robinson Prayer Kicks off Inaugural Events
“Rick Warren is a bigot! No ‘common ground’ with bigot Rick Warren!” shouted Sunsara Taylor as Rick Warren began his keynote address at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. She unfurled a banner that read “NO ‘Common Ground’ with Bigot Rick Warren!” and then was dragged out by the ushers. The banner included the website, www.revcom.us, the revolutionary communist newspaper Sunsara writes for.
Following Sunsara, several other people turned their backs on Warren and were also forced to leave the church. Outside the church, protesters continued chanting, "Rick Warren is a bigot! No 'common ground' with bigot Rick Warren and a crowd gathered.
By Jodie Evans, CODEPINK Women for Peace: Action Blog, via Alternet
As Barack Obama is sworn in as President of the United States of America, we are more mindful than ever of the Promises for Peace he made to the American people during his campaign, especially his promises to:
1. End the war in Iraq
2. Shut Down Guantánamo
3. Reject the Military Commissions Act
4. Stop Torture
5. Work to eliminate nuclear weapons
6. Hold direct, unconditional talks with Iran.
7. Abide by Senate approved international treaties.
Please join us in REMINDING OBAMA! On January 20th, 2009, tens of thousands will be donning pink ribbons reading "Obama, keep your Promises for Peace." Tie the ribbon around your finger to remind Obama of his Promises. Send us your photos with your Promises for Peace ribbons to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jodie Evans is a co-founder of CODEPINK.
The New York Times has posted photos of all of Obama's people.
The St. Petersburg Times has posted a list of all of Obama's campaign promises. These make an ideal tool at this moment when the president elect appears to be going back on much of what he promised but most of the country is just thrilled he got elected. If you want to be positive but useful: hold Obama to his own promises.
By Norman Solomon
The mosaic of Barack Obama’s cabinet picks and top White House staff gives us an overview of what the new president sees as political symmetry for his administration. While it’s too early to gauge specific policies of the Obama presidency, it’s not too soon to understand that “triangulation” is back.
In the 1990s, Bill Clinton was adept at placing himself midway between the base of his own party and Republican leaders. As he triangulated from the Oval Office -- often polarizing with liberal Democrats on such issues as “free trade,” deregulation, “welfare reform” and military spending -- Clinton did well for himself. But not for his party.
In stark contrast to everything he said BEFORE we voted for him, Obama just said of Bush:
"I think personally he is a good man who loves his family and loves his country. And I think he made the best decisions that he could at times under some very difficult circumstances."
By Dave Lindorff
The calls for a reckoning for the criminals of the Bush/Cheney administration are growing by the day, as the final few days of the Bush presidency tick down, and as new evidence of their crimes keep pouring out of the deflating gas bag that was the Bush White House.
For years, the Democrats in Congress, with a few notable exceptions, have sat on their hands, allowing the ongoing destruction of the Constitution, of the US military, of the nation’s reputation, and of the rule of law, as well as of the institution of Congress itself, by a cabal of Republicans in the White House, led by Vice President Dick Cheney, who have sought to establish an executive-led government that answered only to itself.
By Ray McGovern
Outgoing CIA Director Michael Hayden is going around town telling folks he has warned President-elect Barack Obama "personally and forcefully" that if Obama authorizes an investigation into controversial activities like water boarding, "no one in Langley will ever take a risk again."
Upon learning this from what we former intelligence officers used to call an "A-1 source" (completely reliable with excellent access to the information), the thought that came to me in the face of such chutzpah was from Cicero's livid oration against the Roman usurper Cataline: "Quousque, tandem, abutere, Catalina, patientia nostra!" — or "How long, at last, O Cataline, will you abuse our patience!"
Memo to Obama: Moving Forward Doesn't Mean You Can't Also Look Back
By Arianna Huffington | Huffington Post
In one week, the U.S. Constitution will be front and center as Barack Obama solemnly swears to "preserve, protect, and defend" it. Given all that has happened over the last eight years, that oath is not nearly as pro-forma as it used to be.
During his final press conference yesterday, President Bush said that when it came time "to protect the homeland" he "wouldn't worry about popularity." He would "worry about the Constitution of the United States." It wasn't clear, as it hasn't been for most of his time in office, whether his concern was directed at upholding the document or circumventing it.
Two months ago we denied the presidency to a man who, for a few votes, forsook a long opposition to torture and pledged his America would continue the barbarity. This month we evict from the White House its resident torturer. These are victories worth celebrating, but they are tempered by having elevated to the White House, as we learn weekly that we have, another torturer.