Thursday, October 30, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones, in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.

—Anonymous former drone operator, quoted by Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald (2014)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

I went to the Stasi [East Germany's secret police] archive, and I obtained, through their equivalent of a Freedom of Information Act request, a few files, which I got translated. And I looked at them, and, you know, there were handwritten dozens of pages. But in totality, they were not really as robust as like an average Facebook profile, and certainly not anywhere near as revealing as my Google search results. And... they only had files on one-quarter of the population, which took them a lot of work to surveil those one-quarter. Now we’re in a situation where, clearly, the government and institutions have files on everybody.

—Julia Angwin, author of Dragnet Nation
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

As members of the Senate Intelligence Committee we have been provided with the executive branch's classified interpretation of those provisions and can tell you that we believe there is a significant discrepancy between what most people - including many Members of Congress - think the Patriot Act allows the government to do and what government officials secretly believe the Patriot Act allows them to do.... [B]y far the most important interpretation of what the law means is the official interpretation used by the U.S. government and this interpretation is—stunningly—classified.

—Joint letter by Sen Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen Mark Udall (D-CO) (2011)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Monday, October 27, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

I don’t think it’s even fair to call it Bush Lite. It’s Bush. It’s really, really hard to find a difference that’s meaningful and not atmospheric. You see a lot of straining on things trying to make things look repackaged, but they’re really not that different.

— James Jay Carafano, Heritage-foundation security expert

My claim was never that the Obama administration copied or merely tweaked all of the Bush administration policies, but rather... copied most of the Bush counterterrorism program as it stood in January 2009, expanded some of it, and narrowed a bit.... [There are] differences in the rhetorical and justificatory approaches between the two administrations... The continuity of the late Bush and early Obama eras is a qualitative judgment. And that qualitative judgment is informed by the baseline of expectations. President Obama in his 2008 campaign led everyone to believe that he would dramatically change the Bush counterterrorism policies. “Bush’s ‘War’ on Terror Comes to a Sudden End” was the headline in the Washington Post on January 23, 2009, capturing conventional wisdom at the dawn of the new administration. Indeed, people inside the administration believed this as well, and tried hard, especially in the first year, to bring dramatic change on such issues as state secrets, military detention, military commissions, closing GTMO, and more. But dramatic change did not come on these issues. It did not come not because the Obama officials were hypocrites. They were not. Rather, the continuity was driven by a number of factors described in chapter 2 of my book, including the responsibilities and inside information of the presidency, the persistence in outlook of the national security bureaucracy, the alterations to (and legitimation of) Bush administration policies by Congress and courts and related actors, and congressional pushback on Obama initiatives like closing GTMO and civilian trials. We cannot put a number on the extent to which Obama continued Bush – was it 95%?; 85%?; 75%? But very few would have predicted in January 2009 that four years later a secretive Obama administration would be trying the 9/11 conspirators in military commissions; detaining 160 or so people in military detention in GTMO; defending its legal right to do both, and to deny habeas corpus in Afghanistan, in federal court; asserting state secrets doctrine in court on its own authority; pursuing unprecedented prosecutions against government leakers; urging re-authorization (and in some senses expansion) of late Bush-era surveillance policies; and ramping up drone attacks a great deal in a much-expanded global covert war that invite charges of war crimes and related illegalities from U.N. and other international and foreign officials, and NGOs. These are some of the broad-based policy continuities – continuities embedded, importantly, in a presidential war approach to the problem of Islamist terrorism that many hoped Obama would end – that lead most people to think there was large continuity between the Obama and Bush administrations.

—Jack Goldsmith, head of the Office of Legal Council, 2003 - 2004 (2012)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era (Con't)

To date we have arrested or otherwise dealt with many key commanders of Al Qaeda. All told, more than 3,000 suspected terrorists have been arrested in many countries. And many others have met a different fate. Let's put it this way: They are no longer a problem to the United States and our friends and allies.

—George W. Bush, State of the Union Address, 2003
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 30, The Dark Side: Torture, Detention, Surveillance, Drones & Secrecy in the Bush/Obama Era

We also have to work, though, sort of the dark side, if you will. We've got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world. A lot of what needs to be done here will have to be done quietly, without any discussion, using sources and methods that are available to our intelligence agencies, if we're going to be successful. That's the world these folks operate in, and so it's going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal, basically, to achieve our objective.

—Vice President Dick Cheney, September 16, 2001

Other orders went out for the care of prisoners of war. [George] Washington and his officers set a high standard in their treatment of Hessian captives at Trenton.... [Washington] often reminded his men that they were an army of liberty and freedom, and that the rights of humanity for which they were fighting should extend even to their enemies.

—David Hackett Fischer, Washington's Crossing
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Friday, October 24, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

That a country that once took whiteness as the foundation of citizenship would elect a black president is a victory. But to view this victory as racism’s defeat is to forget the precise terms on which it was secured, and to ignore the quaking ground beneath Obama’s feet....

But one reason Obama rose so quickly was that African Americans are war-weary. It was not simply the country at large that was tired of the old Baby Boomer debates. Blacks, too, were sick of talking about affirmative action and school busing. There was a broad sense that integration had failed us, and a growing disenchantment with our appointed spokespeople. Obama’s primary triumphs in predominantly white states gave rise to rumors of a new peace, one many blacks were anxious to achieve.... Obama offered black America a convenient narrative that could be meshed with the larger American story....

...[S]ince taking office, Obama has virtually ignored race. Whatever the political intelligence of this calculus, it has broad and deep consequences. The most obvious result is that it prevents Obama from directly addressing America’s racial history, or saying anything meaningful about present issues tinged by race, such as mass incarceration or the drug war.... But the intellectual argument doubles as the counterargument. If the fact of a black president is enough to racialize the wonkish world of health-care reform, what havoc would the Obama touch wreak upon the already racialized world of drug policy?...

...Part of Obama’s genius is a remarkable ability to soothe race consciousness among whites. Any black person who’s worked in the professional world is well acquainted with this trick. But never has it been practiced at such a high level, and never have its limits been so obviously exposed. This need to talk in dulcet tones, to never be angry regardless of the offense, bespeaks a strange and compromised integration indeed, revealing a country so infantile that it can countenance white acceptance of blacks only when they meet an Al Roker standard.

And yet this is the uncertain foundation of Obama’s historic victory—a victory that I, and my community, hold in the highest esteem. Who would truly deny the possibility of a black presidency in all its power and symbolism? Who would rob that little black boy of the right to feel himself affirmed by touching the kinky black hair of his president?...

Ta-Nehisi Coates, "The Fear of a Black President" (2012)
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

No one thought we would have to take every element of the administration and dedicate it to health care both publicly and privately, which is what we ended up having to do.

—White house aide in Obama administration
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)

[Rhetorically addressing southerners:] Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events.... The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task... [W]hat will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly - done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated - we must place ourselves avowedly with them.

—Abraham Lincoln, "Cooper Union Speech", February, 1960
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

US History 1973 - 2014 Commonplace Book: Lecture 29, Obama and the Tea Party (Con't)


The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's plenty of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she remarked.

`There isn't any,' said the March Hare.

`Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.

`It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,' said the March Hare.

`I didn't know it was your table,' said Alice; `it's laid for a great many more than three.'

—Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, "A Mad Tea-Party"

Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter's remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English.

—Ibid.
Introduction to (and explanation of) this quote series can be found here.  Read this tag to see all of them.