Posted by Wordsmith on 24 January, 2009 at 8:18 pm. 15 comments already!

2009-01-21b

U.S. President Barack Obama signs an executive order on Executive Branch ethics as news photographers document it at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, January 21, 2009. REUTERS/Larry Downing (UNITED STATES)

Presidential Executive Order:

1. Torture is prohibited as defined in section 2340 of title 18, United States Code.

2. Murder, torture, cruel or inhuman treatment, mutilation or maiming, intentionally causing serious bodily injury, rape, sexual assault or abuse, taking of hostages, or performing of biological experiments is prohibited.

3. Other acts of violence serious enough to be considered comparable to murder, torture, mutilation, and cruel or inhuman treatment, as defined in section 2441(d) of title 18, United States Code are prohibited.

4. Any other acts of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited.

5. We are prohibited from engaging in willful and outrageous acts of personal abuse done for the purpose of humiliating or degrading the individual in a manner so serious that any reasonable person, considering the circumstances, would deem the acts to be beyond the bounds of human decency, such as sexual or sexually indecent acts undertaken for the purpose of humiliation, forcing the individual to perform sexual acts or to pose sexually, threatening the individual with sexual mutilation, or using the individual as a human shield.

6. Acts intended to denigrate the religion, religious practices, or religious objects of the individual will not be tolerated.

Does that sound like a strong departure from the Bush Administration’s Interpretation of the Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 as Applied to a Program of Detention and Interrogation Operated by the Central Intelligence Agency?

It’s not. It IS the Bush Administration’s 2007 Executive Order 13440.


2009-01-21a

“However long we are keepers of the public trust, we should never forget that we are here as public servants,” Mr. Obama said.
Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times

Earlier today, CJ posted his examination of the Executive Orders regarding the Guantanamo Detention Facilities. His conclusion is that it bears little difference than the way the Bush Administration has been handling the situation; and that there’s enough legal loopholes in the wording, as to allow President Obama an “out”, from following through with closing the facility, should the Administration fail to solve the dilemma of what to do with the remaining detainees.
(Check this out, btw: former detainees appear in al Qaeda video. That news compliments the other peachy story regarding a former detainee becoming a deputy leader in al Qaeda’s Yemeni branch).

Looking over the new executive order Ensuring Lawful Interrogations, which revokes President Bush’s Executive Order 13440, CJ comes to the conclusion that President Obama’s executive order says much the same thing as the one it revokes:

What’s that? You agree with all six of those points? Then why did President Obama just revoke them? Those were all outlined in Executive Order 13440 signed by President George W. Bush on July 20, 2007. That’s right. Those aren’t Obama’s words although he does restate in less plain terms than President Bush did. That’s right. Much like the Gitmo issue, this EO simply restates what was already US policy. So why revoke it and recreate the wheel?

Well, that wasn’t all that President Bush’s EO 13440 said. President Bush reiterated what the Geneva Conventions already tell us about unlawful enemy combatants – that they aren’t entitled to protections under the law. Specifically, according to Bush, “members of al Qaeda, the Taliban, and associated forces are unlawful enemy combatants who are not entitled to the protections that the Third Geneva Convention provides to prisoners of war.” Translation: terrorists will be treated as such so long as they continue to fight in violation of the established Conventions agreed to by most nations.

President Bush also gave the CIA latitude to conduct interrogations against said unlawful combatants in any manner the Director of the CIA may deem necessary to “detect, mitigate, or prevent terrorist attacks, such as attacks within the United States or against its Armed Forces or other personnel, citizens, or facilities, or against allies or other countries cooperating in the war on terror with the United States, or their armed forces or other personnel, citizens, or facilities.” These tactics MUST provide “the basic necessities of life, including adequate food and water, shelter from the elements, necessary clothing, protection from extremes of heat and cold, and essential medical care.” Additionally, they are not exempt from the six areas listed above.

You read me correctly. The CIA was not above the law and neither was the military. Neither agency or department was given tacit or implied permission to commit those six acts. And when it was discovered that some rogue elements or personnel DID commit these offenses, they were promptly dealt with and a rash of new training was conducted to ensure future compliance.

The media is going through great pains to let the enemy know that they can now breathe a sigh of relief from US pressure. The CIA is now restricted to a particular set of interrogation approaches that the Army currently uses. I’ll get to that later. There are more important areas that need to be addressed first.

As of the 22nd of January, the CIA must close any detention facilities that it currently operates and cannot operate any such detention facility in the future. Where are they supposed to put all of America’s enemies that are covertly trying to kill another 3,000 innocent citizens? Gitmo is out of the question. I guess Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District is going to get pretty populated soon.

The EO on interrogations requires a comprehensive “study and evaluation” on interrogation techniques and their usefulness. It will also “study and evaluate” how our enemies are being transferred to other nations. This has been done. It’s constantly done. The Field Manual in question just underwent an extensive review and update thanks to our not-so-illustrious Senator from Arizona, Mr. John McCain. The result was a much more restrictive and hands-tied approach to gathering information.

Which brings me to the Field Manual. And I refuse to discuss that. Sorry, but I’m not going to give our enemy any more ammunition and information than our Executive Branch has already given them.

It’s all for show, folks! Smoke and mirrors to appease the true believers of radical change and an ushering in of the New Era of Transparency.

And meanwhile, the real threat to our civil liberties and to our way of life- the Islamic terrorists- get a glimpse at our playbook.

One thing Obama’s EO does, though, is close down the CIA program that gained us valuable intell, and order all interrogations (including CIA) be limited to what is allowable in the Army Field Manual.

This really sets the stage for a “fun” ride…..

2009-01-21

News photographers take pictures of the pen to be used by President Barack Obama before he signs an executive order on Executive Branch ethics at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in the White House complex in Washington, January 21, 2009.
REUTERS/Larry Downing


*UPDATE*

My comment #5, blockquoting Sheryl Gay Stolberg writing for the NYTimes:

January 25, 2009
White House Memo
Great Limits Come With Great Power, Ex-Candidate Finds
By SHERYL GAY STOLBERG

WASHINGTON — President Obama showed up for his first full day at work on Wednesday determined, as he later told the nation, to make “a clean break from business as usual.” But it did not take long for the new president to discover that there were limits to his power to turn his campaign rhetoric into reality.

Mr. Obama spent his first few days in office rolling out an orchestrated series of executive orders intended to signal that he would take the nation in a very different direction from his predecessor, George W. Bush. Yet he wrestled with fresh challenges at every turn, found some principles hard to consistently apply and showed himself willing to be pragmatic — at the risk of irking some supporters who had their hearts set on idealism.

When Mr. Obama wandered into the White House briefing room Thursday afternoon hoping to make small talk with reporters, he was instantly confronted by an unwelcome question: Why was he waiving his tough restrictions on lobbying for a Pentagon nominee? The president brushed it off, saying he would not return “if I’m going to get grilled every time I come.”

Lol….lol…..roflmao!!!!!!!

His plan to build bipartisan consensus around an economic package ran smack into discontented House Republicans. When he ordered the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, to be shut down, Mr. Obama put off the tough decision of what to do with the terrorism suspects there, a delay that his senior adviser, David Axelrod, attributed to the complexity of the issue — the same argument Mr. Bush used to keep the prison open.

“That is an enormously complicated situation,” Mr. Axelrod said Friday afternoon in an interview in his West Wing office, adding: “Obviously, you can’t solve problems overnight. But what you can do is signal a sense of motion, a sense of ferment and activity and direction. And I think that he is doing that.

Throughout the campaign, Mr. Obama was something of a political Rorschach test; he was not required to make tough executive decisions, and so people could see in him what they wanted. His first few days as president, though, have given the first hints of how he will run his administration.

“I think you will see a presidency that’s less about hard-core ideology, and more about setting bold strategic objectives and setting out how we are going to get there,” said John D. Podesta, who ran Mr. Obama’s transition.

Already, that has given rise to some contradictions.

On his first full day in office, Mr. Obama declared that his administration would place a high priority on openness and transparency. Yet the first official White House briefing was given by two senior aides who, in the time-honored way of Washington, demanded anonymity.

At the same time, the Obama team made no apologies for the president’s willingness to make an exception to his tough anti-lobbying rules for William J. Lynn III, a military industry lobbyist who is the president’s pick for deputy secretary of defense. That exception drew sharp questions late Friday from Senator John McCain, Mr. Obama’s opponent in the general election and someone the president has sought to make an ally.

Senator Richard J. Durbin, an Illinois Democrat and a close friend of Mr. Obama’s, said the move suggested the president was willing to take a few lumps if he thought he was right.

“He obviously needed and wanted this man,” Mr. Durbin said, “because he knew the critics would say, ‘What are you doing here? You established a rule and you changed it.’ ”

And while as a candidate Mr. Obama had tough criticism for the Bush administration’s use of harsh interrogation tactics, President Obama left himself some wiggle room in overturning that policy, by deferring a decision on whether some techniques should remain secret to keep Al Qaeda from training to resist them.

I think it emphasizes a realist, a pragmatist, someone who is not on a strictly political or ideological exercise,” said Senator Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who is close to the president. “It underscores what I think is part of his leadership style, which is that there has to be some flexibility — a firm principle but a flexible application.”

Yet one man’s flexibility is another man’s wishy-washiness, and Mr. Obama’s willingness to adapt carries the risk that he will either alienate his liberal base or fail to convert Republicans whose support he hopes to win. During his transition, Mr. Obama managed to charm conservatives; he wooed them at one dinner honoring Mr. McCain, and at another at the home of the columnist George F. Will.

But just days into the Obama presidency, some conservatives sound wary.

“I thought he did very well during the transition on things like the dinner with George Will, and all the words sounded good,” said Newt Gingrich, the Republican former speaker of the House. “But I think they are right at the cusp of either sliding down into a world where their words have no meaning or having to follow up their words with real behavior.

Mr. Obama came into office with a clear set of objectives for his first week, advisers said. He wanted to convey a sense that he was moving quickly to make good on campaign pledges, while at the same time establishing realistic expectations for what he could achieve. “He wanted to show that an activist president could get the ball rolling right away,” Mr. Podesta said.

Many Democrats, and even some Republicans, say he succeeded. “He is creating an image that he is making something happen,” said Scott Reed, a Republican strategist.

But in the coming weeks, Mr. Obama will have to do more than create an image; he will in fact have to make something happen — most immediately, an economic stimulus package with bipartisan support, as promised. His ability to bring Democrats and Republicans together will be the first major test of his presidency.

That test began Friday, in the White House Roosevelt Room, where Mr. Obama tried to bring House Republicans on board, despite their fundamental differences on tax policy for low-wage workers.

“I said to him straight up, ‘I think your electoral success was largely based on the hope that you could deliver change to the way Washington works,’ ” said Representative Eric Cantor, the Republican whip. He said he had told Mr. Obama pointedly that he would lose Republican support unless House Democrats were willing to make some changes in the bill.

The president listened intently, Mr. Cantor said, giving little hint of how he planned to square that circle.

>