Michael Hamar

Is Obama Morphing into George Bush?

Filed By Michael Hamar | March 14, 2011 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Afghanistan, Barack Obama, Bradley Manning, Iraq War, murder, torture, U.S. Military, war crimes

When many of us voted for Barack Obama in 2008, we thought that we'd see some of the worse abuses of the misrule of George W. "Chimperator" Bush's reign reversed. While this has happened on some fronts, in other disturbing ways Obama seems to be continuing and reinforcing some of Bush's most questionable moves - such as indefinite detention of alleged enemy combatants, the equivalent of torture in the case of Bradley Manning, and opposition to full gay marriage basted on his personal religious beliefs rather than supporting freedom of religion for all and true equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

Now, Obama has publicly stated that he believes the mistreatment of Manning is just fine:

A piece I bookmarked earlier in the week at Huffington Post looks at the sad manner in which under Obama one is better off committing a war crime than exposing war crimes. Dick Cheney must be smiling somewhere. As for me? I feel dirty being an American. Here are some post highlights:

Bradley Manning is accused of humiliating the political establishment by revealing the complicity of top U.S. officials in carrying out and covering up war crimes. In return for his act of conscience, the U.S. government is holding him in abusive solitary confinement, humiliating him and trying to keep him behind bars for life.

The lesson is clear, and soldiers take note: You're better off committing a war crime than exposing one.

An Army intelligence officer stationed in Kuwait, the 23-year-old Manning -- outraged at what he saw -- allegedly leaked tens of thousands of State Department cables to the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks. These cables show U.S. officials covering up everything from U.S. tax dollars funding child rape in Afghanistan to illegal, unauthorized bombings in Yemen. Manning is also accused of leaking video evidence of U.S. pilots gunning down more than a dozen Iraqis in Baghdad, including two journalists for Reuters, and then killing a father of two who stopped to help them. The father's two young children were also severely wounded.

None of the soldiers who carried out that war crime have been punished, nor have any of the high-ranking officials who authorized it. Indeed, committing war crimes is more likely to get a solider a medal than a prison term. And authorizing them? Well, that'll get you a book deal and a six-digit speaking fee. Just ask George W. Bush. Or Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld or Condoleezza Rice. Or the inexplicably "respectable" Colin Powell.

In fact, the record indicates Manning would be far better off today -- possibly on the lecture circuit rather than in solitary confinement -- if he'd killed those men in Baghdad himself.

Hyperbole? Consider what happened to the U.S. soldiers who, over a period of hours -- not minutes -- went house to house in the Iraqi town of Haditha and executed 24 men, women and children in retaliation for a roadside bombing.

"I watched them shoot my grandfather, first in the chest and then in the head," said one of the two surviving eyewitnesses to the massacre, nine-year-old Eman Waleed. "Then they killed my granny." Almost five years later, not one of the men involved in the incident is behind bars. And despite an Army investigation revealing that statements made by the chain of command "suggest that Iraqi civilian lives are not as important as U.S. lives," with the murder of brown-skinned innocents considered "just the cost of doing business," none of their superiors are behind bars either.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has decided to make Manning's pre-trial existence as torturous as possible, holding him in solitary confinement 23 hours a day since his arrest 10 months ago -- treatment that the group Psychologists for Social Responsibility notes is, "at the very least, a form of cruel, unusual and inhumane treatment in violation of U.S. law."

Andrew Sullivan has less than kind words for Obama as well:

By firing PJ Crowley for the offense of protesting against the sadistic military treatment of Bradley Manning, the president has now put his personal weight behind prisoner abuse. The man who once said that forced nudity was a form of torture, now takes the word of those enforcing it over a distinguished public servant.

It is not necessary to have had a father as a prisoner of war to see the evil of prisoner abuse, and the stain it places on everyone enforcing it. And in the military, as with Bush, so with Obama. As commander-in-chief, Obama is directly responsible for the inhumane treatment of an American citizen. And Crowley's firing will make it even less likely in the future that decent public servants will speak out against such needless sadism.

The foreign media continues to recognizes the hypocrisy and troubling mindset of Obama and his minions at the Pentagon. The growing discontect between America's supposed founding principles and what is allowed in practice cannot help but be recognized by moral individuals. One such piece is here in the Guardian.

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Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 14, 2011 2:33 PM

One of the sure signs of the fact that we're in Clinton's fifth term or Bush2's third term, depending on how you want to count, is the ongoing torture of GLBT/antiwar hero Bradley Manning by Obama.

Obama and H. Clinton are livid because Bradley Manning is a hero with a long reach. Events in Tunisia began with the publication of Wikileaks material on the criminality of the ruling party and government. That unrest spread to Egypt and across the muslim/Arab world. It's origins are the huge rise in food prices, the continued slaughter of Palestinians by Obama's zionist satellite colony and the ferocity of Obama backed oppressive regimes in muslim/Arab states.

To date all of these uprisings are rebellions, not revolutions, because none have completed the goals of fundamental social change, which for them will be workers governments that promote socialism and a robust secularism. In fact those fights have just begun in earnest and will. sooner rather than later, lead to the expulsion of the US from the region as a whole and the reconquest and reconstitution of Palestine. The ultimate outcome of these struggles is what the US and EU fear most, that control of natural resources will go to the workers and nations that produce them. That's why Bradley Manning is being tortured by Obama.

As that process unfolds, Obama, who's already a total failure from the point of view of workers in this country, will also be a failure for the interests of big business, big oil, big banks and big agriculture. They don't forgive big failures. When Richard Nixon was forced to withdraw US troops from South Vietnam he was never forgiven. In fact, when he was impeached the rich turned their backs on him.

Obama will share the same fate if he 'loses' the wars in Palestine, Yemen. Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan when the muslim/Arab world complete it's revolution. Obama is Nixon redux. Bradley Manning, and the rest of us, will have our political revenge for Obama's warmongering, his racism, sexism and his crimes against working people. We have to do everything in our power to help Manning, a hero for American workers, for the GI and civilian antiwar movements and for the GLBT liberation movement.

Bradley Manning has done his share and more. Now it's our duty to help him.

Stop the torture. Free Bradley Manning.



Rick Sutton | March 14, 2011 2:49 PM

A fair question.

The answer is a resounding "no."

Main differences:

1. Obama was popularly and Electorally elected legally.
2. Obama is a friendly work-in-progress.
3. Obama pushed repeal of DADT.
4. Obama ordered his AG and Justice Dept. to pull
back on defense of DOMA via the Solicitor Gen.

Those among us who decry his sometimes-slow progress overall, only need to remember: without him, he'd be looking at Pres. McCain and VP Palin.

Shiver your timbers.

The best man won. He's doing a decent job. Too slow sometimes, and all-wrapped-up in that monster known as "national security," which has entangled many a reform-minded prez. Because we haven't quite figured out how to wrestle that monster to the ground absent fear-mongering from the far-right. And because he sees daily intelligence briefings we'll never see. Thankfully.

He still overwhelmingly has my support for 2012. Without question. Even if he stopped making progress this afternoon.

Because I beleive he'll continue to progress toward the rigiht goals. And because the options are so effing scary.

But that's just me.

yeah, Obammer (as the Cockney call him) has always been a corporo-dem. Better than a corporo-Republican, like bush, in that he's nicer and willing to sign some laws that make us freer.

But his comments on Manning were deplorable. He hasn't been a great president when it comes to civil liberties.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 15, 2011 2:27 PM

Or Obummer, as GM and Chrysler UAW workers call him.

Unfortunately, it's been clear since the day that Obama declared amnesty for all the criminals in the Bush-Cheney Administration, that for most practical purposes, when it comes to contempt for the rule of law, we have a third term of George W. Bush. Even apart from Bradley Manning's sorry status, this is highlighted by the efforts that Eric Holder has gone to to KEEP Scott Bloch from going to jail for his offenses(despite the best/worst efforts of the Obama Administration, Bloch is about the only Bush Administration criminal to have been convicted -- of contempt of Congress) while at the same time leaving Don Siegelman a Democratic political prisoner of Karl Rove's to languish in prison.

It could be called treason and Manning could be executed. And, no, President Obama has not developed mental retardation, nor has he joined the world of magical thinking christian crazies.

Rick Sutton | March 15, 2011 6:51 AM

Deplorable, Alex? Really? How so?

Manning allegedly leaked national security secrets. So much so that his life has been threatened by very solid groups, and he's in deep protective custody.

I think IH'm glad we all know the things we know, by virtue of Manning's leaks. But he likely (severely) broke the law.

This isn't the Pentagon Papers Redux. It's potentially much worse.

In that context, the President should probably remain mum. But his comments have been "deplorable" ? REALLY? Wake up.

Um, yeah, wake up, Rick.

1. Manning hasn't been found guilty of anything.

2. Even if he had, torture wouldn't be justified (we're supposed to be a nation of morals, etc.)

3. The reason he's being tortured is because they want him to confess because they don't have the evidence needed to condemn him for the bigger charges against him.

I think that the people who blindly support the torture of a fellow citizen for no reason at all (see #1 above), because someone who speaks well and had a great marketing campaign for himself in 2008 tells them it's fine, are the ones who need to wake up.

Agreed. This administration's treatment of Manning is one of my biggest disappointments with his presidency.

Rick Sutton | March 15, 2011 11:26 AM

Alex, I'm more awake than you seemingly think. And I've got more than a passing knowledge with the intelligence community--it's a sorry world of conflicting missions and direction. Every president since Nixon has tried to reel it in--without success.

If Manning is being tortured, someone needs to be fired or worse.

Is the "fact" that he's being tortured, a fact not in dispute?

I wasn't aware.

Torture anywhere is wrong. Always. It defeats our fundamental purpose as a nation.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | March 15, 2011 3:31 PM

Sutton says "his life has been threatened by very solid groups, and he's in deep protective custody."

Citation? Proof? Not about the 'very solid groups' that want him dead. We have ample proof that the Pentagon and the White House are putting his life at risk, but where is the proof that putting him in the brig at Quantico will protect him from Obama and his torturers?

"Is the "fact" that he's being tortured, a fact not in dispute?" Who disputes it, aside from the ultraright and the White House, who also say there's no torture and murder of prisoners at Baghram, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

From the The New York TimesReport Details Torture at Secret Baghdad Prison By SAM DAGHER April 27, 2010 BAGHDAD — The torture of Iraqi detainees at a secret prison in Baghdad was far more systematic and brutal than initially reported, Human Rights Watch reported on Tuesday.

Who are we supposed to believe? Sutton, Obama, the Pentagon? Or Human Rights Watch and the folks at firedoglake? There's no question about who to believe.

Sutton says "If Manning is being tortured, someone needs to be fired or worse."

Exactly. Obama, Biden, H. Clinton and the Congress who lets this go on should be invited to resign and take a hike like Mubarak and his corrupt crowd.

There are no excuses for the mass murder of civilians while stealing their oil, land and resources and torturing whistle blowers.

None at all.

Some of us saw, from the start, that Obama was sort of a Bush. If you look at them objectively, they even look alike.

As a liberal Democrat, I don't understand why people go from one extreme to the other, either Bush was a god or devil and Obama was going to be our savior but now is a failure. Who will they blame their problems on next?

If citizens care, let them do something; vote if nothing else. But let's see what the citizens of Wiscosnsin do about their government.

How many glbt people work for their cause? Not many. They spend their time watchin "our" tv network and RuPaul drag shows or attacking the few people and organizations that are at least trying.
But this is generic-and they attacked every homosexual organization from the start-they always find some reason to attack those working for them and not those working against them. It gives them an excuse for doing nothing themselves.