If Mohamed can become Josef, why not Joe Schmo?

21 June 2010 | InfoShop News

Mohamed Hassan Odaini, a Yemeni sent by his family to study in Pak, was kidnapped by the Islamabad government in 2002. He was 17 at the time and transferred to the captivity of the U.S. government at Guantánamo Bay, where he remains today. Though, the Obama Administration has no evidence to support justification of this prolonged kidnapping, it continuously fights hard in courts to block detainees from confronting their captors, Glenn Greenwald writes today at Salon [emphasis his]:

A federal court this month granted his habeas petition for release, finding that the evidence “overwhelmingly supports Odaini’s contention that he is unlawfully detained.”  Worse, the court described the multiple times over the years — beginning in 2002 and occurring as recently as 2009 — when the U.S. Government itself concluded that Odaini was guilty of nothing, was mistakenly detained, and should be released (see here for the court’s description of that history).

Despite that, the Obama administration has refused to release him for the past 16 months, and fought vehemently in this habeas proceeding to keep him imprisoned.  As the court put it, the Obama DOJ argued “vehemently” that there was evidence that Odaini was part of Al Qaeda.  In fact, the Obama administration knew this was false.  This Washington Post article this weekend quotes an “administration official” as saying:  “The bottom line is: We don’t have anything on this kid.”  But after Obama decreed in January that no Yemeni detainees would be released — even completely innocent ones, and even though the Yemeni government wants their innocent prisoners returned — Obama DOJ lawyers basically lied to the court by claiming there was substantial evidence to prove that Odaini was part of Al Qaeda even though they know that is false.  In other words, the Obama administration is knowingly imprisoning a completely innocent human being who has been kept in a cage in an island prison, thousands of miles from his home, for the last 8 years, since he’s 18 years old, despite having done absolutely nothing wrong.

This not only paints the picture displaying this Kafka-esque reality taking shape in the U.S. criminal ‘injustice’ system, but the more dangerous consent being manufactured by the so-called ‘liberal’ elements of the intellectual class, Mr. Greenwald added [emphasis ours]:

I honestly don’t understand how any Obama DOJ lawyer or official could involve themselves with anything like this.  If you’re willing to work to keep a person whom you know is innocent imprisoned, what aren’t you willing to do? What decent human being wouldn’t be repulsed by this?  I don’t care how many times someone chants “Pragmatism” or “The Long Game” or whatever other all-purpose justifying mantras have been marketed to venerate the current President; these are repellent acts that have no justification.Of course, none of this is new for the Obama administration; it’s consistent with their course of conduct from the start.  I highlight this today only because there is an obvious, concerted effort by a slew of Democratic Beltway pundits over the last month or so to attack the so-called “Left” for daring to express displeasure with the Obama administration, and to demonize those objections as unserious, shrill, irrational, purist and all the other clichés long used by this same cadre of party apparatchiks for the same purpose.  This is all coming from a homogeneous clique of Democratic Party pundits who have strikingly similar demographics and background, most of whom supported the Iraq War, and who spend a great deal of time talking to one another in public and private and reinforcing their talking point platitudes, and have spent years railing against the Left.  Just look at who is purporting to lecture liberals on how to promote progressive goals.

The New Republic‘s Jonathan Chait—vocal Iraq War cheerleader (from a safe distance) who works for a magazine whose declared editorial mission is to have Joe Lieberman’s worldview “once again guide the Democratic Party”—has written yet another lecture chiding liberals for unfair and irrational discontent with his beloved leader.  Peter Connolly — a D.C. lobbyist and telecom lawyer for Holland & Knightpublished a screed this weekend at The Huffington Post condemning progressives who are mounting primary challenges against conservative Democratic incumbents for creating a terribly unjustified “civil war” in the Democratic Party, which, after all, is led by what he called that “unabashed liberal” Barack Obama.  Newsweek‘s Jonathan Alter—the first known mainstream pundit to explicitly call for torture in the wake of the 9/11 attack and one of the creepiest Obama loyalists around—as been running around the country promoting his book by spouting “the typical warmed over Village sentiments, particularly as it relates to liberal critics of the President.”

Lanny Davis published a column this weekend arguing that “the Left” is a threat to good Democratic principles and that Obama should “Sister Souljah” progressives who are criticizing himThe New York Times‘ conservative columnist Ross Douthat even adopts their script today by pronouncing liberal disenchantment with Obama to be “bizarrely disproportionate” and grounded in unrealistic expectations of Obama.  And a whole slew of other, similar Obama-defending Democratic Party loyalists (Jon Chait, Ezra Klein, Jonathan Bernstein)—for whom the excuses of “not-enough-time-yet” and “Pragmatism” are now dry wells—have together invented a new one:  none of this is Obama’s fault because the Presidency is so weak and powerless (though Klein, to his credit, accurately acknowledges that that excuse is “less true on foreign policy than on domestic policy”).

The article is a reminder of one written about ten days ago by Mr. Greenwald, where he opines that these efforts by the intellectual class are to create the actions of this president as a default standard of objectivity and the manufacturing of consent by the media is some virtuous form of realism. It’s irrelevant if the status quo is full of lies, cognitive dissonance, cult of personality or outright evil stupidity. It’s the moral application of ‘might is right’; that what is ought to be acceptable simply because it is the policy of the powerful [emphasis ours]:

Because that’s what journalists do who are eager to show how “balanced” and centrist they are.  [Marc Ambinder] is correct that the series of habeas defeats for the Government “demolish the myth of the right that all detainees are cutthroat super terrorists” (a view reflected by the constant conflation between “Guantanamo detainee” and “Terrorist,” i.e., the refusal to recognize the distinction between accused Terrorist and Terrorist, as though all detainees are, by definition, Terrorists).  But he can’t simply point out that reality negates this belief of the Right, because that would mean he’s being imbalanced, biased and (the greatest sin of all) a non-centrist.  So he then has to concoct a totally ludicrous view and attribute it the “left”—and then proceed to mock and criticize it—to prove that he’s in the center, with equal distaste for both extremes,  and thus reasonable and pragmatic.  That’s what most journalists believe “objectivity” requires, and it’s to be achieved at all costs, including a complete departure from reality.

So what is the reality?

The reality is that when it becomes known that evidence is lacking or non-existent to support detention of those kidnapped overseas, the U.S. Congress dreams up legislation to demand prolonged detention, Andy Worthington—leading journalist on the U.S. government’s kidnapping policies and legal proceedings—recently noted. When unconstitutional, unilateral executive policy becomes federal law, judicial review becomes exponentially more difficult. What Mr. Greenwald screams from the highest mountain, that ought to be the centerpiece of all serious discussion of the functions of government–especially military policy and law enforcement—is that there is a dominant narrative among the ignorant existing as: if you don’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

The recent joint-agency executive branch Final Report of President Obama’s Guantánamo Review Task Force [.pdf], Mr. Worthington wrote, “was supposed to provide a cogent and definitive analysis of the status of the remaining 181 prisoners, given that it took eleven months to complete”, but “revealed institutional caution, credulity regarding the contributions of the intelligence services, an inability to address fundamental problems with the legislation that authorized President Bush’s detention policies in the first place, and a willingness to bend to the demands of political expediency”. He added [emphasis ours]:

In analyzing the cases of the 97 Yemenis at Guantánamo during the course of the report, the Task Force advised that five be prosecuted and 26 be held indefinitely, but approved the other 66 for release. Seven of these men were freed last year, but Obama bowed to political pressure and halted all further releases to Yemen in January, just weeks before the report was published, in response to a wave of hysteria that greeted the discovery that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the failed Christmas Day plane bomber from Nigeria, had trained in Yemen.


Sadly, this example of political expediency is just one of many on the part of Obama administration in the last year that have dashed the high hopes held by many of us in January 2009. Other examples include Obama vetoing White House Counsel Greg Craig’s plan to bring some Uighurs to live in the U.S. last spring, his decision to revive the reviled military commissions trial system (which he suspended on his first day in office), and his support of indefinite detention without charge or trial, which he announced in a major national security speech last May, when most of George W. Bush’s cards, which Obama had taken off the table, were put back on again.

The narrative ought to be: if the U.S. government is adamant about asserting such kidnapping, rendition and torture policies against non-citizens on the other side of the world, what makes an American citizen immune from such treatment? The ignorant beliefs are usually coupled with meanings of what being a citizen of the U.S. means, but to use citizenship as an extension of indemnity is to acknowledge and accept the sovereignty of the U.S. government over the U.S. territory more than any other, not less. This logic leads to arbitrary, indefinite, prolonged detention of U.S. citizens without even valid allegations—let alone, hard evidence—presented before them or in a court of law more justifiable.

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