Various matters

The CIA skates free again; Romney's absurd national security attacks on Obama; Awlaki v. Obama's body counts

Published October 7, 2011 10:33PM (EDT)

(1) I have an Op-Ed in The Guardian today regarding the complete lack of consequences for the CIA's illegal destruction of interrogation videos -- culminating in a federal judge's refusal this week to hold the CIA in contempt despite recognizing that they violated his own order -- and what this reflects about America's two-tiered justice system.  It can be read here.

(2) Mitt Romney yesterday unveiled his foreign policy team consisting almost entirely of Bush/Cheney neocon retreads, and then today attacked Obama's national security policy from the Right, falsely claiming that Obama cut military spending and vowing to reverse those non-existent cuts; Romney also vowed to take a "harder-line" against Iran.  But National Journal's Marc Ambinder put his finger on exactly what made Romney's attack particularly absurd:

If you think about it, Ambinder's observation is amazing: it means that the current iteration of Obama is to the Right on national security as compared to where Romney would have been a few years ago while attacking Obama from the Right.  And remember: national security a few years ago was already well to the (neocon) Right due to individuals by the name of George Bush and Dick Cheney.

That's how far to the Right Obama has taken not just the country, but the Democratic Party and the nation's bipartisan consensus.  In my view, that is clearly one of the most significant and enduring aspects of the Obama legacy. He even has self-identified progressive Democrats -- who a few years ago were shrilly objecting to Bush's mere attempt to eavesdrop on or detain Americans without due process -- now running around defending the President's power to target American citizens for assassination: in secret and without a shred of due process, to say nothing of radical secrecy, indefinite detention, and an unprecedented war on whistleblowers.  To see just how extreme a situation this is, consider this article from today's Hill:

Many Democrats love to complain that Republicans will never give Obama credit no matter what he does, but that's absolutely not true.  The most right-wing polemicists have repeatedly praised Obama's Terrorism and civil liberites policies the way that Boehner did today.  To take one of countless examples: here's Peter King praising Obama for using military tribunals; here's Peter King praising Obama for codifying indefinite detention; and here's Peter King praising Obama for ordering Awlaki killed.  They are duly appreciative that he's embracing the Terrorism and civil liberties policies they have long advocated and moved his own Party so much closer to their own positions, and they have not been shy about expressing that appreciation.

(3) Although there's still no evidence that Anwar Awlaki was responsible for any actual or planned Terrorist plots, a newly released WikiLeaks cable seems to provide definitive proof of what Amnesty International has long claimed: that the U.S., in late 2009, carried out an air strike in Yemen using cluster bombs that killed dozens of innocent women, children and men.  It's so telling how much intense and unquestioning media attention was devoted to depicting Awlaki as an Evil Terrorist, and so little devoted to the dozens of innocent people actually killed by the U.S., under the direction of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner, in the very country where Awlaki lived.

(4) One thing the Internet has definitely changed for the better is that media stars like Erin Burnett are no longer able to spew shoddy, misleading "journalism" without hearing loud and effective responses.  The Atlantic recounts just some of the criticism here; meanwhile, The Huffington Post's Jason Linkins and Cenk Uygur on his video program add some worthwhile thoughts of their own.

(5) Tampa is the site of the 2012 Republican National Convention, and the city is considering the purchase of large amounts of paramilitary weaponry to control crowds and possible protests, including "two 'unmanned aerial vehicles' that could hover for 20 minutes, fly in 20-knot winds and carry cameras with zoom lenses or thermal imaging capabilities."  Nothing is more ahistorical and naive than the view that you can vest the government with a whole slew of powers in the name of Terrorism and expect that it will be confined to that realm.

(6) In anticipation of the release of my new book toward the end of this month (Oct. 25), there are numerous events and media appearances as part of the book tour which are already planned, and I will post details of them as the dates approach.  I'll be in New York, Boston, Washington, Maryland, San Francisco, Ottawa, Canada, Southern California, among other places.

But there are tickets now available for two events in particular to which I wanted to alert readers in order to enable those interested to obtain them:  on Saturday, October 29 in Boston at 1:00 p.m., I'll be at Harvard Books for an event discussing the book with Noam Chomsky (details and tickets here); and on Monday, November 7 in New York (Brooklyn), I'll be at the Powerhouse Arena to discuss the book at an event hosted by Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi (details and tickets here).  I'm genuinely excited about this book and the ability to have its argument heard in as many venues as possible, and there are numerous other great events planned which I will post as the dates get a bit closer.

By Glenn Greenwald

Follow Glenn Greenwald on Twitter: @ggreenwald.

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