How can it be change if it's the same damn thing?!? Same wars, same secrecy, same surveillance, same influence peddling with the same donors and campaign bundlers, same corporate con men committing the same crimes. But where does George W. Obama begin and Barack H. Bush end? Is it better to refer to a single shapeshifting entity known as Obusha?
In January, Salon's Glen Greenwald provided an overview of what senior Bush Administration officials think of Obama's policies :
As early as May, 2009, former Bush OLC lawyer Jack Goldsmith wrote inThe New Republic that Obama was not only continuing Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies, but was strengthening them -- both because he was causing them to be codified in law and, more important, converting those policies from right-wing dogma into harmonious bipartisan consensus. Obama's decision "to continue core Bush terrorism policies is like Nixon going to China," Goldsmith wrote. Last October, former Bush NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden -- one of the most ideological Bush officials, whose confirmation as CIA chief was opposed by then-Sen. Obamaon the ground he had overseen the illegal NSA spying program -- gushed with praise for Obama: "there's been a powerful continuity between the 43rd and the 44th president." James Jay Carafano, a homeland-security expert at the Heritage Foundation, told The New York Times' Peter Baker last January: "I don’t think it's even fair to call it Bush Lite. It's Bush. It's really, really hard to find a difference that's meaningful and not atmospheric."
Those are the nation's most extreme conservatives praising Obama's Terrorism policies. And now Dick Cheney himself -- who once led the "soft on Terror" attacks -- is sounding the same theme. In an interview last night withNBC News, Cheney praised Obama for continuing his and Bush's core approach to Terrorism:
He obviously has been through the fires of becoming President and having to make decisions and live with the consequences. And it's different than being a candidate. When he was candidate he was all for closing Gitmo. He was very critical of what we'd done on the counterterrorism area to protect America from further attack and so forth. . . .
I think he's -- in terms of a lot of the terrorism policies -- the early talk, for example, about prosecuting people in the CIA who've been carrying out our policies -- all of that's fallen by the wayside. I think he's learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he's learned from experience.
Greenwald says it would be overstating the case to say there are no differences. Yet the examples he provides are, by his own admission, de minimis, with the exception of his claim that Obama had "banned CIA black sites (which were empty when he took office)." Greenwald also notes that " there is a more conciliatory tone . . , ," which reminds me of my favorite Tolstoy quotation: "Which is worse? The wolf that cries before he eats the lamb or the wolf who does not?"
Four months after Greenwald's column was published, The Nation revealed that the use of CIA black sites in conjunction with rendition programs was continuing in Somalia. The presence of similar sites in Yemen is highly likely based on the similar operational goals and circumstances.
Greenwald also makes a compelling case that the Bush Administration policies have been more harmful as continued by Obama then they were under Bush:
First, it creates the impression that Republicans were right all along in the Bush-era War on Terror debates and Democratic critics were wrong. . . .
Second, Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies. . . .
Third, Obama's embrace of these policies has completely rehabilitated the reputations and standing of the Bush officials responsible for them. . . .
Greenwald concludes by noting that " Obama has won the War on Terror debate -- for the American Right."