Sunday, August 18, 2013

Falling Out of Love with President Obama

"I had such hopes for us."
               --Jimmy McNulty to Stringer Bell.

"They always disappoint you."
               --Mayor Royce's administrative assistant to Norman, Carecitt's campaign manager

Mad Dog is just about ready to take down his Obama poster, from the far end of his hallway, near the guest bedroom. Reading Peter Maass's article in the New York Time Magazine about the abuse and intimidation of Laura Poitras, a documentary film maker who has covered Iraq and who released some of the Edward Snowden leaks about the National Security Agency spying on Americans, Mad Dog is now Hang Dog.

While it is true the abuse began during the Bush administration, Poitras remained on the list of nice names which got her pulled aside at every airport in America, in  Europe and in  the Middle East, for special attention which read like one of those scenes about Gestapo interrogations, with two interrogators in front and one behind her. No charges. No explanations, her pen grabbed from her so she could not take notes about the names of those who interrogated her.

Real thugs, in the employ of the U.S. government. 

If President Obama came out tomorrow and said, on public TV, he was sorry about what happened to Ms. Poitras, and he would bring the thugs to justice and he welcomed her back into the United States, Mad Dog would consider putting back up his poster. 

There is much we do not know. What exactly did Ms. Poitras do to get on the list? Who else is on the list? How do you qualify for the list? If she has actually committed some malfeasance, why is she not in jail? Doesn't the fact she is free to fly, but simply intimidated every time she does, does this not  not clearly say the government knows she has broken no laws, but they are using this sort of intimidation to punish those they know they have no legal right to abuse?

We have not heard the government's response to Mr. Maass's article. It just appeared this morning, but if President Obama is not on TV tonight, Mad Dog will consider him guilty as charged. This is the printed equivalent of those horrible Abu Gharib photographs. It is an obscenity.

And while Mr. Obama is apologizing for the misbehavior of the thugs at the airports who harass Ms. Poitras, he should add some lines about the thugs who walked up to the farmer who was turning on his irrigation system on his own property near the Mexican border and demanded to know what he was doing. He replied, "Hey, dude, I'm irrigating my land." The official replied, "Don't dude me. I'm a federal officer."  To which the farmer did not reply, "Yeah, and you are trespassing on my land," because, apparently, the law allows federal officers to trespass on a farmer's land without warrant. 

Of course, underlying all this is Mad Dog's dismay that Mr. Obama has continued Mr. Bush's wars,  and he had continued the policy that America must continue perpetual wars. He has said we'll have American troops out by the end of 2014 without explaining why they cannot be out yesterday. Mr. Biden says we cannot remove Americans until there are Afghans to take their places. This has the ring of untruth. 

And it is manifestly stupid. If you have a powerful army, throughout history, you have had two choices:1.  Move in, defeat and destroy then occupy territory, and create an empire, or 2. Sweep across as the Mongol hordes did, vanquish and then disappear back to from where you came. Those you ravaged know you're out there, and can reappear at any time, so they may behave. But they also know, you don't want to move in and live near them.

There is also the Obama doctrine that we can do things like murder outside the USA, especially if we do murder to people who are not US citizens. The distinction is lost on Mad Dog. If it is immoral to act as prosecutor, judge, jury and executioner without trial, if it is not fine to kill a citizen person in this manner, then why is not immoral to do the same to a non citizen? It's not the legal status of the human being you propose to kill which matters, it is the process by which you make the decision, a process meant to insure guilt, fairness and explanation, which makes the taking of life potentially okay.

Mad Dog understands it is not the 18th century. We have people who can do violence to us from any part of the globe. But Mad Dog does not understand why the terrorist you think is guilty cannot be publicly informed of the charges against him and offered a trial. If he does not choose to return, full steam ahead. Drone him. But  to simply meet in a dark room in the West Wing and draw up a list of names and then send out the drones--that is not the President I want on my wall as an icon of Hope.

There is the argument we will send terrorists to ground if we notify them we are after them. But they are already at ground. They do not use cell phones, computers, the internet. They know they are hunted. At least real terrorists do. But some people on those lists may have done nothing more than embarrass some government official.  They may be no more guilty than Laura Poitras.

We need to know more about Ms. Poitras, but evidently, there has never been a real enough transgression on her part to land her in jail or formally charged. 

That, by itself, speaks worlds.


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