Monday, 2 February 2009

US president reverts to type

It didn't take long for the gloss to wear off. Obama might be a nice guy, and he might be infinitely better in so many ways than George W. Bush, but, at the end of the day, he's the President of the United States of America, put into power by a remorseless party machine and beholden to the interests and power blocs that permitted us the privilege of xchoosing between him and another guy. Or, in the memorable words of Julian Cope, "he had enough money to run for president and that makes him a cunt. Albeit a far higher quality of cunt" (1).

After a hectic start where good stuff was actually done (2), Obama is letting the CIA continue to abduct people, or, as we prefer to call it, continue the practice of rendition. Lets call it kidnapping, and when it is done by a state, it counts as a form of terrorism.

Rendition, Obama style, is Smart Rendition, the same mealy-mouthed phrasing Hilary Clinton deployed during her senate confirmation hearing to distingush her otherwise indistingushable ideas from the failed policies of Bush et al (3). She advocated the use of 'smart force,' implying the outgoing administration used 'dumb force.' So not a whit of actual policy difference, just the done with more panache.

The 'smart' part of rendition, Obama style is that it will only be short term:
Section 2 (g) of the order, appears to allow the US authorities to continue detaining and interrogating terror suspects as long as it does not hold them for long periods. It reads: "The terms "detention facilities" and "detention facility" in section 4(a) of this order do not refer to facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis."(4)
Which is so much better. In the bad old days, the CIA could seize you off the street, bundle ytou into a plane, fly you round the globe and then hold you in some unofficial complex for as long as they pleased and then pass you on to some medieval minded third world thugs to carry out the brutal treatment we civilised westerners can't countenance. Now they can do exactly the same, only the bit in the middle - the bit where they might realise that they've accidentally kidnapped the wrong bloke and picked up some innocent kebab merchant by mistake - can only be "short-term."

A leader of real courage and conviction would have outlawed rendition, accepting that maintaining (or in this case, reinstating) civilised standards outweighs the dubious benefits of being able to snatch people at will. There are international treatys that allow for the detention and transfer of persons of interest. The USA is continuing to show no interest in them, prefering to do things its own way - the attitude of a playground bully, with a huge military and a nuclear arsenal.

Business as usual, then.
1 - "Julian Cope: 'It's time for war'," by Eddi Fiegel, published in The Independent, 11th of January, 2009. (
2 - As described previously on lefthandpalm:
3 - As described previously on lefthandpalm: (
4 - "Barack Obama to allow anti-terror rendition to continue," by Alex Spillius, published n The Telegraph, 2nd of February, 2009. (

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