In an article in Salon, Alex Kane a reporter for MondoWeiss, lists five ways in which Obama has carried on with Bush policies such as rendition, indefinite detention, warrant-less wiretapping, drone attacks, and use of Guantanamo.
Kane points out that on his second day of office Obama broke with the Bush era by signing executive orders that banned torture and he also promised that Guatanamo would be closed within a year. Guantanamo is still open.
Obama can hardly be blamed entirely for the failure to close Guantanamo since the Republican Party has tried to block attempts to close the base. Nevertheless, Obama has hardly continued to press that hard to close the base and he himself has signed bills that restrict his ability to close it.
As if often his strategy, Obama threatened to veto the NDAA of 2013 but then signed it. In the provisions of the act is one that restricts “the transfer of detainees into the United States for any purpose, including trials in federal court. It also requires the defense secretary to meet rigorous conditions before any detainee can be returned to his own country or resettled in a third country.”
Human Rights Watch has blasted the restrictions saying:“Indefinite detention without trial at Guantanamo is illegal, unsustainable and against U.S. national security interests, and it needs to end. The administration should not continue to just blame Congress. President Obama should follow through on his earlier commitments and make the effort to overcome the transfer restrictions.” As the appended video indicates, 86 of the inmates at Guantanamo have been cleared for release. However, the restrictions imposed on their release means that they will still be held indefinitely.
Obama does not seem to care. He is more concerned with nominating for the CIA John Brennan, a person closely associated with all the Bush programs that Obama and Democrats railed against not so long ago, including torture and extraordinary rendition. Obama tried to appoint Brennan in his first term but memory of his service to Bush was still too strong. Instead he made him a top advisor on counter-terrorism. Brennan has been a staunch defender of the expanded drone program initiated by Obama.
Obama has expanded the drone program far beyond anything that existed under Bush. Not only does he use it in war zones but in any area where there are suspected militants. The Bush administration carried starting in 2002 carried out only 52 drone strikes. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism these strikes killed an estimated 438 including 182 civilians and 112 children. Even before Obama's second term begins he has ordered 300 drones strikes just in Pakistan. These strikes killed about 2,152 people including 290 civilians with 64 being children.
However there are other disastrous effects of the drone programs as the constant buzzing of drones above: “terrorizes men, women, and children, giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among civilian communities. Those living under drones have to face the constant worry that a deadly strike may be fired at any moment, and the knowledge that they are powerless to protect themselves.”
There is no sign of any end to the program just continuous expansion beyond targeting specific individuals to signature strikes. The Washington Post describes a new "matrix" being developed as part of: “the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war.”
This is just a sample of the detailed information presented in the article, which shows that Obama is carrying on and expanding Bush policies. Even as he does so, there is only limited opposition to what is happening. The nomination of Brennan is a perfect example of how any opposition has become muted. The reality for many liberals seems to be that there is no alternative, so keep quiet or the Republicans will get you if you don't watch out.
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