Tag Archives: President Obama

Guantánamo’s Last 100 Days, The Story That Never Was, by Karen Greenberg

The US government can decide a noncitizen is a terrorist and put them in prison for indefinite detention, with no right of habeas corpus. Such has been the fate of Guantánamo’s prisoners, some of them for over a decade. Hopes that Barack Obama would keep his campaign promises and shut Guantánamo were dashed, and President Trump wants to put more prisoners there. From Karen Greenberg at tomdispatch.com:

In the spring of 2016, I asked a student of mine to do me a favor and figure out which day would be the 100th before Barack Obama’s presidency ended. October 12th, he reported back, and then asked me the obvious question: Why in the world did I want to know?

The answer was simple. Years before I had written a book about Guantánamo’s first 100 days and I was looking forward to writing an essay highlighting that detention camp’s last 100 days. I had been waiting for this moment almost eight years, since on the first day of his presidency Obama signed an executive order to close that already infamous offshore prison within a year.

I knew exactly what I would write. The piece would narrate the unraveling of that infamous detention facility, detail by detail, like a film running in reverse. I would have the chance to describe how the last detainees were marched onto planes (though not, as when they arrived, shackled to the floor, diapered, and wearing sensory-deprivation goggles as well). I would mention the dismantling of the kitchen, the emptying of the garrison, and the halting of all activities.

Fifteen years after it was first opened by the Bush administration as a crucial site in its Global War on Terror, I would get to learn the parting thoughts of both the last U.S. military personnel stationed there and the final detainees, just as I had once recorded the initial impressions of the first detainees and their captors when Gitmo opened in January 2002. I would be able to dramatize the inevitable interagency dialogues about security and safety, post-Guantánamo, and about preparing some of those detainees for American prison life. Though it had long been a distant dream, I was looking forward with particular relish to writing about the gates slamming shut on that symbol of the way the Bush administration had sent injustice offshore and about the re-opening of the federal courts to Guantánamo detainees, including some of those involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.

To continue reading: Guantánamo’s Last 100 Days, The Story That Never Was

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Watch: 5 Signs We’re Going to War: “A Plan Implemented By Bush, Continued Under Obama, And Kicked Up A Notch By Our New President”, by Melissa Dykes

From Melissa Dykes at The Daily Sheeple, via Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com:

Is it possible that not everything is as it seems?

While the majority of America is being distracted by shiny things and manipulated into civil unrest over identity politics, Melissa Dykes of The Daily Sheeple warns that an unprecedented push for war is underway.

It’s pretty clear that we’re being taken to war… A plan implemented by George W. Bush after 9/11… continued under Obama… and now kicked up a notch by our new President, Donald Trump.

Watch (3:52):

Obama’s Bombing Legacy, by Nicolas J. S. Davies

President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything to deserve it, and after he got it, everything he did contradicted it. From Nicolas J. S. Davies at antiwar.com:

As President Obama leaves office, much of his foreign policy record remains shrouded in the symbolism that has been the hallmark of his presidency. The persistence of Obama’s image as a reluctant war-maker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner has allowed Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees to claim that Obama has underfunded the military and been less than aggressive in his use of US military power.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and their claims are clearly designed only to justify even more extravagant military spending and more aggressive threats and uses of force than those perpetrated under Mr. Obama’s “disguised, quiet, media-free” war policy.

The reality is that Obama has increased US military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).

In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the US Cold War average, when it was justified by a military competition with a real peer competitor in the Soviet Union. By contrast, Russia now spends one-tenth of what we are pouring into military forces, weapon-building and war.

What all this money has paid for has been the polar opposite of what most of Obama’s supporters thought they were voting for in 2008. Behind the iconic image of a hip, sophisticated celebrity-in-chief with strong roots in modern urban culture, lies a calculated contrast between image and reality that has stretched our country’s neoliberal experiment in “managed democracy” farther than ever before and set us up for the previously unthinkable “post-truth” presidency of Donald Trump.

To continue reading: Obama’s Bombing Legacy

The Issue Is Not Trump, It’s Us, by John Pilger

Mainstream writers have been as servile and unctuous as the mainstream press and mainstream Hollywood towards Barack Obama. “There is something both venal and profoundly stupid about famous writers as they venture outside their cosseted world and embrace an ‘issue.'” This article slices through a lot of bullshit. From John Pilger at telesurtv.net:

Under Obama, the U.S. extended secret “special forces” operations to 138 countries, or 70 percent of the world’s population.

On the day President Trump is inaugurated, thousands of writers in the United States will express their indignation. “In order for us to heal and move forward,” say Writers Resist, “we wish to bypass direct political discourse, in favor of an inspired focus on the future, and how we, as writers, can be a unifying force for the protection of democracy.”

They continue, “We urge local organizers and speakers to avoid using the names of politicians or adopting ‘anti’ language as the focus for their Writers Resist event. It’s important to ensure that nonprofit organizations, which are prohibited from political campaigning, will feel confident participating in and sponsoring these events.”

Thus, real protest is to be avoided, for it is not tax exempt.

Compare such drivel with the declarations of the Congress of American Writers, held at Carnegie Hall, New York, in 1935, and again two years later. They were electric events, with writers discussing how they could confront ominous events in Abyssinia, China and Spain. Telegrams from Thomas Mann, Cecil Day-Lewis, Upton Sinclair and Albert Einstein were read out, reflecting the fear that great power was now rampant and that it had become impossible to discuss art and literature without politics or, indeed, direct political action.

“A writer,” the journalist Martha Gellhorn told the second congress, “must be a man of action now … A man who has given a year of his life to steel strikes, or to the unemployed, or to the problems of racial prejudice, has not lost or wasted time. He is a man who has known where he belonged. If you should survive such action, what you have to say about it afterwards is the truth, is necessary and real, and it will last.”

To continue reading: The Issue Is Not Trump, It’s Us

An Inauguration Day Surprise? by Justin Raimondo

It’s low probability, but there are elements of the US government, including perhaps President Obama, who would like to stir up a war with Russia before Trump’s inauguration to prevent him from pursuing détente with Russia. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Is the Obama administration out to provoke a military conflict with Russia in the days before Donald J. Trump takes the oath of office?

In July of 2014, the US announced the start of “Operation Atlantic Resolve” in response to the vote by Crimea – which took place nearly three years ago — to rejoin the Russian Federation. Now the Obama administration has announced that 6,000 more US troops will be deployed, initially in Germany and Poland, and eventually fanning out to Bulgaria, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Romania, and Slovakia. Accompanying them will be 144 Bradley fighting vehicles, 87 M1A1 tanks, heavy artillery, and aircraft.

Europe hasn’t seen such an increase in the US troop presence since the fall of the Soviet Union. Coming as it does with mere days left in Obama’s term of office, this action invites all sorts of speculation: however, one need not speculate as to whether this is a political move. Clearly it is: the idea is to box in President-elect Trump, who has expressed his desire to improve relations with Russia.

The mere expression of such a view has provoked a storm of abuse from the War Party, and a relentless campaign of calumny orchestrated by the CIA to the effect that Trump is “Putin’s puppet.” The deranged Democrats, looking for some way to excuse why their weak and widely disliked candidate lost the election, have explained it all away by claiming that a Russian conspiracy “stole” the White House from Hillary Clinton by revealing truthful and embarrassing information via Wikileaks. It doesn’t matter that there’s no evidence for this contention: in alliance with anonymous “US officials,” spooks, and “journalists” who believe everything the CIA tells them, this has become the elite consensus.

To continue reading: An Inauguration Day Surprise?

 

D.C. National Guard Chief Fired Days Before Trump Inauguration: “The Timing Is Extremely Unusual” by Tyler Durden

This story is just weird. All sorts of protests are planned around Trump’s inauguration in Washington, and President Obama fires the National Guard General in charge of security, effective midday the day of the inauguration. That he’s being fired by Obama suggests he’s extremely competent. If the spoiled brats erupt in the violence that appears to be the subtext of many of their public utterances, it will be a real tragedy…if every last one of them isn’t thrown in jail. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

[CLARIFICATION: THE ZERO HEDGE STORY IMPLIES THAT IT WAS PRESIDENT OBAMA WHO ACCEPTED GENERAL SCHWARTZ’S RESIGNATION:

“Is this just another part of Obama’s “smooth” transition? Or is something even more sinister at work here, since we already know that anti-Trump activists are planning “the biggest protest in US history” on the day of the inauguration?”

HOWEVER, THE WASHINGTON POST STORY ZERO HEDGE REFERENCES IS MORE AMBIGUOUS. IT WAS IN FACT THE TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM THAT ACCEPTED SCHWARTZ’S RESIGNATION. IT IS CUSTOMARY FOR POLITICAL APPOINTEES TO OFFER THEIR RESIGNATIONS TO AN INCOMING PRESIDENT. THAT IS WHAT SCHWARTZ DID AND TRUMP ACCEPTED THE RESIGNATION. UNNAMED ARMY OFFICIALS SAID THE DECISION WAS TRUMP OFFICIALS’, WHILE UNNAMED TRUMP OFFICIALS SAY THAT WAS WHAT THE ARMY WANTED, WHICH MAY IMPLY THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS INVOLVED. FROM THE POST:

Military officials and Trump transition officials provided contradictory versions of the decision to replace Schwartz. As is customary for presidential appointees, the general submitted a letter of resignation to give the new administration a clean start.

Two military officials with knowledge of the situation said the Trump team decided to accept the resignation. A person close to the transition said transition officials wanted to keep Schwartz in the job for continuity, but the Army pushed to replace him.

OBVIOUSLY SLL, WORKING OFF THE ZERO HEDGE STORY, MAY HAVE WRONGLY ATTRIBUTED THE FIRING, OR ACCEPTED RESIGNATION, TO OBAMA, WHEN IT IS IN FACT NOT CLEAR EXACTLY WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR SCHWARTZ’S TERMINATION. I AM GRATEFUL TO READER DAVE WALDEN FOR POINTING ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION ON THIS (SEE HIS COMMENT BELOW)]

“It doesn’t make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment,” rages D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) after Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz, who heads the D.C. National Guard and is an integral part of overseeing the inauguration, has been ordered removed from command effective Jan. 20, 12:01 p.m., just as Donald Trump is sworn in as president.

As The Washington Post reports, Maj. Gen. Errol R. Schwartz’s departure will come in the midst of the presidential ceremony, classified as a national special security event — and while thousands of his troops are deployed to help protect the nation’s capital during an inauguration he has spent months helping to plan.

“The timing is extremely unusual,” Schwartz said in an interview Friday morning, confirming a memo announcing his ouster that was obtained by The Washington Post.

During the inauguration, Schwartz would command not only the members of the D.C. guard but also an additional 5,000 unarmed troops sent in from across the country to help. He also would oversee military air support protecting the nation’s capital during the inauguration.

“My troops will be on the street,” Schwartz, who turned 65 in October, said, “I’ll see them off but I won’t be able to welcome them back to the armory.” He said that he would “never plan to leave a mission in the middle of a battle.”

Schwartz, who was appointed to head the guard by President George W. Bush in 2008, maintained the position through President Obama’s two terms. He said his orders came from the Pentagon but that he doesn’t know who made the decision.

D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) blasted the decision to remove Schwartz, especially on Inauguration Day.

“It doesn’t make sense to can the general in the middle of an active deployment,” Mendelson said. He added that Schwartz’s sudden departure would be a long-term loss for the District. “He’s been really very good at working with the community and my impression was that he was good for the Guard.”

To continue reading: D.C. National Guard Chief Fired Days Before Trump Inauguration: “The Timing Is Extremely Unusual”

Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out, by Kate Tummarello

One thing for which Barack Obama will be unable to pat himself on the back: he’ll never be known as a civil liberties president. From Kate Tummarello at Electronic Frontier Foundation, off.org:

With mere days left before President-elect Donald Trump takes the White House, President Barack Obama’s administration just finalized rules to make it easier for the nation’s intelligence agencies to share unfiltered information about innocent people.

New rules issued by the Obama administration under Executive Order 12333 will let the NSA—which collects information under that authority with little oversight, transparency, or concern for privacy—share the raw streams of communications it intercepts directly with agencies including the FBI, the DEA, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to a report today by the New York Times.

That’s a huge and troubling shift in the way those intelligence agencies receive information collected by the NSA. Domestic agencies like the FBI are subject to more privacy protections, including warrant requirements. Previously, the NSA shared data with these agencies only after it had screened the data, filtering out unnecessary personal information, including about innocent people whose communications were swept up the NSA’s massive surveillance operations.

As the New York Times put it, with the new rules, the government claims to be “reducing the risk that the N.S.A. will fail to recognize that a piece of information would be valuable to another agency, but increasing the risk that officials will see private information about innocent people.”

Under the new, relaxed rules, there are still conditions that need to be met before the NSA will grant domestic intelligence analysts access to the raw streams of data it collects. And analysts can only search that raw data for information about Americans for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, not domestic criminal cases.

To continue reading: Obama Expands Surveillance Powers on His Way Out