JIM CREES: Obama’s lack of honesty is disappointing
I suppose this column will disappoint some readers and thrill others. Probably all for the wrong reasons.
I really have become disappointed with President Barack Obama.
Discouraged and disappointed.
I had hoped for and expected a lot when Barack Obama took office following the eight interminable years of George Bush’s administration. (And, no! I do not miss President Bush or any of his band of merry men.)
After the Bush-era, I had hoped for something different.
Instead, it seems as though we have a president who is almost trying to out-do his predecessor in so many ways.
President Bush headed up what could never, ever be called a transparent administration.
And yet sadly, (for me anyway), Mr. Obama has almost enthusiastically surpassed Bush when it comes to stonewalling requests for information, or covering up administration activities.
Before he was even sworn in, Obama informed his administration officers, “We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration.”
Yet the past few weeks have shown that promise is far, Far, FAR from the case, and the recent AP News Service invasions, the IRS tagging scandal, and the Benghazi investigation taking points are only the tip of the iceberg.
There is more. That’s what really bothers me.
For example, as an Obama supporter, I watched with dismay as for months and months the president looked straight into the TV cameras and basically said, “Drones? What drones?” while unmanned aircraft were, and are fulfilling what we now know is an integral part of the administration’s foreign military policies.
Research by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism shows the Obama administration has ordered six times more drone more strikes than did the Bush administration. (314 compared to 52. ) He knew all along, but opted to ...deceive.
Now, there may be a case for the use of unmanned weaponry, but there really can be no case for killing - at last count - 197 children in those attacks.
An investigation by researchers at the Brookings Institution has revealed that American drone attacks on supposedly enemy targets “...may kill 10 or so civilians for every militant killed, which would represent a civilian to combatant casualty ratio of 10:1.”
In fact, out of an estimated 3,500 drone-strike dead, there have only been a very, very few “primary targets” killed - possibly less than a dozen.
The president, however, doesn’t find it necessary to justify or qualify his drone policies, and went quite a stretch before even admitting there was something afoot.
And then ...
Back in the day, I wrote quite a bit about Mr. Bush’s hand-picked Attorney General - Alberto Gonzalaz.
AG Gonzalaz ended up being quite a liability. There was the scandal over his firing of U.S. attorneys. He actively supported torture and made up some fantastic legal justifications for using what was colloquially called enhanced interrogation methods. And so much more.
But Mr. Bush stood by him. They were buddies.
Now, Mr. Obama has his bud - Eric Holder.
It would be disingenuous of me to write so scathingly about Gonzalaz, and then give Holder a pass.
Holder is also turning out to be a tremendous liability - possibly even more so than Gonzalaz - but the president just won’t let go.
There is something to be said for a healthy sense of loyalty - but not when it detracts from the national interest.
First there was the “Fast and Furious” debacle, (during which Holder became the first AG - or cabinet member for that matter - to be held in contempt of Congress.)
Then it seemed to be one little thing after another culminating in his department’s stomping on the rights of AP journalists while pretty much dismissing Constitutional protections afforded every U.S. citizen.
I suppose a case could be made for requesting journalists’ phone records during a national security investigation, (I write “suppose” but I generally wouldn’t agree with such an action.) Still, such a request should have gone through the courts. A journalist, and any citizen for that matter, should be able to offer a case for not turning over such records.
Holder’s Department of Justice simply ignored the acceptable route, and mugged phone companies into turning over AP journalists’ phone records with no benefit of possible court protection.
And Holder says, “Who? Me??”
Here’s the deal.
In this column I regularly chided the Bush administration for its lack of transparency and secretive activities.
How can I simply wash over the Obama administration’s continuing cover-ups and hyper-secretive functioning?
Under the guise of national security, and tapping into the Espionage Act as a tool, the present administration has actively prosecuted more whistle-blowers over the last five years than all the previous administrations put together.
All of ‘em.
An AP (and I quote the AP out of solidarity) study showed that the Obama administration has refused or censored more Freedom of Information Act requests than at any time, or in any year, prior to the president’s taking office. The AP investigation revealed that government departments in the Obama administration are “...50 percent more likely to deny FOIA requests than under Bush.”
This is scary stuff.
And I can’t whitewash it just because I voted for the guy.