This past week we saw some interesting developments on the Guantanamo Bay and torture fronts. Former Vice President Dick Cheney and President Barack Obama delivered speeches on the current approach to dealing with terrorism suspects.
One of the few things libertarians thought they could look forward to under an Obama administration, other than a leader who could speak English, was a new approach to civil liberties and an end to the Bush administration policy of detaining terrorism suspects indefinitely. Unfortunately these changes do not appear very likely; this should have been clear when Obama revived military commissions. In his speech Obama announced plans for what he called “prolonged detention” and a policy that embraces preventive incarceration. He noted that he wants to make “prolonged detentions” inline with “American values” and the rule of law.
Whatever that means.
The cacophony coming from conservatives – that Obama is endangering Americans and weakening the policies put in place by the Bush administration – is generally unfounded. He is merely tweaking them with pretty language and better PR.
Jack Goldsmith, an assistant attorney general for the Bush administration said, “all of the Obama changes have been at the level of packaging, argumentation, symbol, and rhetoric.” Goldsmith, who occasionally writes for The New Republic, cited the recent legal brief filed with the Justice Department that asserts the right of the executive branch to detain suspects indefinitely as an example.
Meanwhile in Chicagoland…
Mancow, a conservative Chicago shock jock who said he thought waterboarding was like “sitting in a tub” decided that he would undergo it himself. His radio station, WLS, arranged for a Marine to conduct waterboarding in his studio. He lasted six seconds and said it was “way worse than I thought it would be” and that it was “absolutely torture.”