Monday, July 13, 2009

New York Times' "News Analysis" by Scott Shane

Scott Shane, a New York Times national security correspondent, had a revealing "news analysis" in yesterday's edition regarding the Obama administration's possible decision to open an investigation into Bush-era national security policies.  Shane cites four different examples of the Bush administration's national security policies coming under increasing scrutiny from lawmakers and civil liberties groups, including a highly classified counterterrorism policy kept secret (presumably illegally) by former Vice President Cheney, the torture of detainees in US custody, the recent report about the National Security Agency's domestic spying activities and the massacre of Afghan prisoners by Afghan security forces allied with American forces directly after the 9/11 attacks.  Shane characterizes these disturbing revelations as a "distraction from Mr. Obama's domestic priorities."  Here is a brief excerpt from the article:

It is just the kind of distraction from Mr. Obama’s domestic priorities — repairing the economy, revamping the health care system, and addressing the long-term problems of energy and climate — that the White House wanted to avoid.

A series of investigations could exacerbate partisan divisions in Congress, just as the Obama administration is trying to push through the president’s ambitious domestic plans and needs all the support it can muster.

“He wants to dominate the discussion, and he wants the discussion to be about his domestic agenda — health care, energy and education,” said Martha Joynt Kumar, a professor of political science at Towson University who studies the presidency.

The Bush national security controversies “are certainly a diversion from what he wants to do,” Professor Kumar said. “He wants to talk about the present and not the past.”

In the establishment world of our mainstream media outlets and politicians, breaking the law, at least when it is done by the nation's highest political leaders, is acceptable and any investigation into this law-breaking would be a "distraction" to Obama's domestic agenda (as if Republicans would be willing to acquiesce to Obama's "socialist" agenda anyways).  It doesn't matter how much evidence there is for such crimes.  Any investigation, according to the standard establishment argument, would be purely for partisan gain and would ignite a deep divide in Washington (as if Dems and Reps agreed on everything anyways).  In Shane's view, upholding the law is secondary to Obama's domestic agenda.  Why can't anyone seem to understand that this is not a partisan witch-hunt to go after Dick Cheney and Co. but a matter of upholding the rule of law.  After all, we are supposed to be "a nation of laws, not of men."

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