Wednesday, Feb 18th, 2009
Former Attorney General John Ashcroft has said that the Obama administration’s policies concerning the ‘war on terror’ represent a direct and unwavering continuation of the Bush administration’s approach.
In an interview with the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, Ashcroft noted that the only difference between Obama and Bush on detainee policy will likely be how they spell their names:
John Ashcroft, who was Attorney General when Marri was designated an enemy combatant, makes no…apologies. Interviewed just before the Inauguration, he defended what he described as a “sound decision” to “maximize the national interest,” and predicted that, in the end, President Obama’s approach to handling terror suspects would closely mirror his own: “How will he be different? The main difference is going to be that he spells his name ‘O-b-a-m-a,’ not ‘B-u-s-h.’”
Ashcroft is best known for his stated desire to introduce camps for U.S. citizens deemed to be “enemy combatants”.
Ashcroft’s plan, which made headlines back in 2002, called for the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens, with the authority to strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts system.
It is far from comforting then that Ashcroft sees no change whatsoever in Obama’s approach to the war on terror.
Earlier this month we reported on the fact that one of Obama’s first actions in office was to sign an executive order securing the continued practice of secretly capturing, transporting and imprisoning so called “enemy combatants”.
Indeed, Obama’s much lauded declaration to “ban” torture and his commitment to close down detention facilities are chocked full of loopholes and hidden clauses designed to allow such practices and premises to be continued.
Yesterday the New York Times even ran a detailed piece on how Obama’s war on terror resembles Bush’s war on terror a little too closely for comfort, pointing out the following facts:
• In little-noticed confirmation testimony, Obama nominees have endorsed continuing the C.I.A.’s program of extraordinary rendition and indefinite detention of terrorism suspects without trials.
• The administration has embraced the Bush legal team’s arguments that a lawsuit by former C.I.A. detainees should be shut down based on the “state secrets” doctrine.
• The Obama administration has left the door open to resuming military commission trials.
• The Obama administration signaled a continuation of Bush era policies when it threatened to cease all intelligence ties with Britain if it revealed that a British suspect held at Guantanamo Bay had been tortured into confessing to being part of a dirty bomb plot.
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