President Obama Calls On China to Be More Transparent and Open — And Then Bars The Release of Any More Photos of Detainee Abuse to the Media and Public

225px-official_portrait_of_barack_obama180px-Abu_Ghraib_prison_abusePresident Barack Obama and his Administration set a new level of hypocrisy this weekend with calls on the Chinese government and military to end censorship and be more open with the public while barring disclosure of embarrassing photos of detainee abuse.

Obama appears much more fervent in his commitment to civil liberties and open government when it is someone else’s government. Recently, his Administration took an extraordinary step of demanding an investigation of a visiting defense official on allegations of torture — in Sri Lanka, here.

Obama waxed poetic in China in explaining how the government should not be afraid of allowing the free flow of information and openness.

He insisted “I’m a big supporter of non-censorship. I recognize that different countries have different traditions. I can tell you that in the United States, the fact that we have free Internet — or unrestricted Internet access is a source of strength, and I think should be encouraged.” Of course, we had a tradition of open disclosure of government documents and photos before the Bush and Obama administration argued that embarrassment alone is sufficient to bar release of such information.

For the China story, click here.

To make the hypocrisy complete, Defense Secretary Robert Gates took the occasion of this weekend when Obama was lecturing the China on openness to block the release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors. The Obama Administration is opposing free speech and good government groups in the Supreme Court who have denounced his policy of nondisclosure as a dangerous and extreme policy of government control of information.

For the Gates story, click here.

180px-AG-10Then there is Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, commander of the U.S. aircraft carrier group for the Asia-Pacific, who specifically used the same period to lecture the Chinese military on transparency in its activities. There seems no concern that Donegan was making such demands while Gates was denying transparency in Washington.

For the military story, click here.

The Obama Administration continues to leverage heavily on the growing cult of personality surrounding Obama — much like the one surrounding Bush in his first term. For many, Obama’s popularity is unaffected by the fact that he is pursuing the very same hostile policies as Bush on civil liberties, privacy, and open government. More importantly, there appears no reaction to the disconnect between his rhetoric and his actions. Once again, liberals are committing the same mistake that conservatives committed with Bush. Many continue to display blind loyalty and offer little criticism of the President while core values continue to be challenged by his Administration.

34 thoughts on “President Obama Calls On China to Be More Transparent and Open — And Then Bars The Release of Any More Photos of Detainee Abuse to the Media and Public

  1. This is not a NEW level op hypocrisy, this is business as usual, standard operating procedure, staying the course… nothing more.

    We’ve had it since sliced bread…. must be human nature, ey.

  2. Duplicity ≠ Change

    Okay. We’ve seen you talk out of both sides of your mouth, Obama. Which orifice will you be speaking from next, Oh Lying Non-Rule of Law Supporting One? I’m betting you’re sitting on it right now, Mr. Insurance/Pharma Graft.

    Enjoy your one term.

    Or you could start doing the job you we’re elected for, i.e. sending the criminals in Washington to prison and protecting the citizens from corporations run amok.

    But I don’t see that happening. Out of all the campaign promises you made, you know, the IMPORTANT ones, you’ve dropped the ball on with complete consistency and for the benefit of political criminals and their corporate paymasters. You know, like closing Gitmo and restoring the Constitution. And let’s not forget the free pass you have the Big Oil fascist jackasses that just left the White House.

    Hope? Change? Responsibility? The Rule of Law?

    All = Bullshit when they come from your mouth, Mr. President. So how about cleaning up your own house before bitching at the Chinese. Because all you are doing is making them laugh at you and by extension the U.S.

    Bush destroyed American credibility abroad. You’re not helping with two-faced crap like this either.

  3. Professor Turley–

    From your post: “Once again, liberals are committing the same mistake that conservatives committed with Bush. Many continue to display blind loyalty and offer little criticism of the President while core values are continue to be challenged by his Administration.”

    ************

    While I would agree that there are many liberals displaying blind loyalty to Obama, there’s a number of liberal individuals and liberal news organizations calling Obama out for his lack of transparency, his administration’s failure to prosecute those who tortured detainees, and his decision to continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to other countries for detention and interrogation: The Nation, Democracy Now, Jeremy Scahill, Glenn Greenwald, and Rachel Maddow…to name a few.

    ***************
    Excerpt form Obama’s Transparency Problem by Ari Melber (6/18/2009)

    I think the best headline for the first 100 days is that Dick Cheney is criticizing President Obama on transparency. That’s not the Onion–that’s real. Dick Cheney is experiencing what most of us feel every day–information is not power, but information asymmetry is a type of power. And Cheney wants to make arguments about public policy, but as a citizen he feels he doesn’t have all the information he would like to govern his democracy.

    And the news today is: Dick Cheney is right about this one. The administration should declassify the rest of the OLC memos. According to ProPublica, about twenty-eight are still classified, and, within reason, they should do a scrub and declassify what they can from the documents Cheney is referring to regarding the outcome of torture. It’s interesting to see a once very powerful and secretive person thrust into the role of citizen-activist, asking for declassification. But he’s right; we need it.

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20090706/melber

    ************

    Obama and transparency: judge for yourself by Glenn Greenwald (6/17/2009)

    http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/06/17/transparency/

  4. In addition, our internet usage is monitored by this govt., so so much for that “freedom” as well. I must say the idea that a grave wrong doesn’t matter because other people have/are committing it has never made sense to me. Each wrong is an occasion for resistance. Every crime has most likely be committed at least once before. It isn’t like criminals and liars are exemplars of originality.

    The point is, way too many Republicans accepted the lies and systematic attempt to dismantle the Constitution under Bush because they thought he was, “a great guy”. Now many liberals are willing to accept the lies of Obama and his finishing off of the Constitution because, “he’s a great guy”. Well, great guys don’t do the kind of things either Bush or Obama did. A population who puts loyalty and their fantasy about their president before reality will end badly. The first step is to open one’s mind to reality, no matter how difficult that may be. The second step is to open one’s heart to the people being harmed by “the great guys” in power. And the final step is open, non-violent resistance to this abuse of power.

  5. Here’s news of our prison system: (P.S., if this sounds like we’re getting out of Afghanistan soon..)

    “Journalists have been allowed to inspect refurbished facilities at Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, the largest US military hub in the region and home to a controversial prison.

    Al Jazeera’s correspondent James Bays, who was among those who inspected the facilities on Sunday, said Bagram, unlike its Guantanamo counterpart, was clearly not going to be shut down soon.

    “The new prison wing cost some $60 million to build … and is meant to be part of a new era of openness and transparency,” Bays said.

    “But we were not shown the detainees. Human-rights lawyers say that, while the environment for the prisoners may be changing, their legal situation is not … not having been charged. Nor has any civilian lawyer ever been allowed inside.”

    Bays said the extended prison could hold up to 1,000 detainees, but was at present holding around 700 inmates, including 30 foreign prisoners.

    Detainees ‘beaten’

    Omar Dighayes, a former detainee at Bagram and Guantanamo Bay, said the Bagram prison resembled a concentration camp.

    “People were beaten, dragged, tortured in it. There were high places where guards stood with guns. It was a hard, difficult place,” he told Al Jazeera.

    But he said he doubts the newly refurbished Bagram prison will improve conditions for its detainees, one of which includes his brother-in-law, whom Dighayes says was recently “badly beaten” inside Bagram.

    “I don’t think it’s the facilities which make the difference, it’s the treatment of people inside.”

    http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/11/20091115114337109563.html

  6. OFF TOPIC

    Contact – The old blind email address @email.com that some of you have for me is no longer valid. In addition, I have lost about a week’s worth of mail to that address and my contacts list for that account. To any of those in contact with me and not in possession of my proper e-mail, here is new functional blind address:

    buddha.is.laughing.ril@gmail.com

  7. One of the things that need to be changed about our country is the belief by much of the “foreign Policy Establishment” that we have the right to lecture other country’s on their behavior. I despise China for what it has become, namely a Fascist State, posing as Communist. It is laughable, were it not so disastrous for its’ citizens.

    However, although I decry China, the US must stop casting itself as the arbiter of the world’s morality because of both the false belief in “The American Empire,” and the silly belief in “American Exceptionalism.” We have too many of our own human rights problems to be able to cast stones at others. Those inside the “Beltway Village,” whatever their political stripe, believe too much of this crap. That’s why we unnecessarily killed over 50,00 of our troops in Viet Nam, invaded Iraq twice and invaded Afghanistan and have been there for more than 8 unproductive years. President Obama is merely doing what this “bi-partisan” foreign policy establishment believe to be correct. It is a stupid and non-productive policy concept that never works and is promoted by so-called experts that are never right.

    Let us stop lecturing the world, bring our troops home and fix what is wrong with our country. When we do that then perhaps we could afford to lecture others on their behavior.

  8. Mike Spindell said,

    “Let us stop lecturing the world, bring our troops home and fix what is wrong with our country. When we do that then perhaps we could afford to lecture others on their behavior.”

    Well said.

  9. “Once again, liberals are committing the same mistake that conservatives committed with Bush.”

    Every day I feel increasingly at odds with most Democrats and many who call themselves Progressives. How quickly many of these people are distracted from the responsibility of nurturing and protecting our nations’ foundation of civilization. How quickly they fall in line and forget that, as citizens, they must never give up on the idea that a living Constitution demands living responsibility. Our rights and freedoms are under a constant state of attack. So why is it so difficult to accept the role of their defender?

    As an example, the Ed (Schultz) Show has been taking hits lately from Democrats displaying blind support for Obama, never questioning much of anything he has or hasn’t done according to promises made or implied. I will give credit for what Obama has accomplished, but on serious matters like the Law and economics and the survivability of life on Earth, I find him more likely playing, at best, a political game of timing that creates uncertainty and doubt about his plans and our future.

  10. I have been thinking about the Obama cult for a long time now. After reading the account of death in the sweat lodge I have come to this conclusion: the will to belong outranks even the will to life itself.

    Here’s what happened in the sweat lodge: “Within an hour of entering the sweat lodge…people began vomiting, gasping, and collapsing…Arthur Ray, who was conducting the ceremony, continually urged everyone to stay inside…At one point, someone lifted the back of the tent, shining light in the otherwise pitch-black enclosure. Mr. Ray demanded to know who was committing a ‘sacrilegious act,'” AP, Oct. 22. People knew others had died but they obeyed the leader and did nothing. Others who were quite ill and could have escaped, stayed. Why?

    People looked to Mr. Ray as a leader, a good man. They trusted him. There was also group pressure to believe in and obey Mr. Ray. I believe this has happened with Obama. Besides defense contractors and Goldman-Sachs et al, who knew exactly who they were getting for their money, most everyone who voted for Obama believed he would do great things, change the way the US treated the world and its own citizens. This was a desperate, collective desire taking place in a state of emergency via the rule of law in the US and disastrous wars. People worked very hard to get Obama elected. People united in working hard for him and hoping for change. Change was conceived of as a new president making everything right again. It was this belief, that one person would come in a make everything right again that was itself a mistaken first premise. This transfered power from a group of people to “the one” and set the cult of personality in motion. People united under belief in Obama.

    To question Obama meant/means threatening belonging to a great movement under “the one”. Like any cult it is necessary to close ranks against those who question. Punishment of doubters must be swift and certain. In fact, the Obama administration has actively worked to cut off funding to liberal groups or persons in Congress who won’t go along with Obama. People who believe in Obama will attack anyone who questions his actions and pay no attention to the actions themselves.

    We have to open the tent and run out. We have to tend to the sick. We have to break with the leader. The will to live must become stronger than the will to belong.

  11. Over 69 million people voted for Obama. That is a very large “cult”. I voted for him, and I do not blindly accept everything he does. For one thing I am against the escalation of the war in Afghanistan. I don’t seen an alternative to Obama in 2012 although he could lose to a “teabagger” if the economy does not improve.

  12. Swarthmore mom,

    May I ask why you are convinced in 2009 that no one else can be a credible alternative to Obama in 2012? (I am asking a genuine question and not trying to bait you or put you down in any way.)

  13. Jill There could be a challenge from the left but that person would lose in the general and probably would not get very far in the primaries.Obama has the minority vote locked down. I don’t think the losers from 2008 will be able to do anything in the democratic primaries. Russ Feingold is the only creditable one to me but he won’t run against Obama. If you have a name put it out there.

  14. Swarthmore mom,

    Obama himself wasn’t considered a serious contender until rather late in the game. Too me, it is way to early to concede the race to Obama. I hope we will have a third party by that time as I pretty much agree with this tweet from Jeremy Scahill: “if we didn’t have 2 parties, women’s rights would be in trouble, wars wld expand & corporations wld rule #sarcasm 10:24 AM Nov 9th from TweetDeck.”

    More importantly, I think we have to jettison the idea of a “leader” making things right in the US. We are in deep trouble right now. We can’t wait for Obama to do what needs to be done, nor do I believe he has any intention of making things right. We have to get active as citizens again. For example I consider Obama at most irrelevant and actually a hindrance when it comes to global warming. I suggest it is useless to try to get him to do the right thing even though clearly this is a life or death emergency. Instead I suggest we start investing in alternative energy and the infrastructure right now ourselves. Any money that would go to Obama the candidate should be immediately diverted to this purpose. Any time should be diverted to useful works such as helping our neighbors. We could sort and lift their recyclables, compost for them, whatever acts of help and use we may be of, we should do. The nature conservancy is a good model. They just go ahead and buy the land. They don’t bother begging politicians for it. We should stop begging and make our own plans. This won’t work for issues such as the rule of law, but it will work for many other emergencies we face. We must not rely on “the one” for anything. He or she cannot do everything that needs doing and, given that we are truly a corporatocracy, they will be unlikely to do good things, be they Republican or Democratic.

  15. There was no incumbent in 2008. Obama enjoys all the powers of the presidency and all that it affords in an election. We couldn’t even knock the incumbent Bush out in 2004. If Obama loses, it will be to a right wing republican because unemployment stays high.

  16. Jill,

    See Theodore Roosevelt and what he did to Taft. Then read “The River of Doubt” which is a great read. Excuse me a damn good read.

  17. Obama is not irrelevant whether you like him or not.Goldman Sachs is not irrelevant either. Vote in 2010 for change. I don’t know how many blue dog democrats have primary challenges probably very few. The challenge is coming from the right not the left. Palin will be very active in the mid term elections.

  18. Swarthmore mom,

    Obama isn’t all powerful. We must move as citizens in a non-violent way to correct what is wrong in our nation. Voting is one way of trying to get change but it isn’t the only way. We need to reengage as citizens. Our rights, our Constitution, depends on it. Voting isn’t enough. Only an active citizenry who takes back their own power can oppose the corporate state. When I say he is irrelevant, I mean it is time to move around him. There is no sense in asking/expecting him to do the right thing. That isn’t why GS and the defense contractors paid for him. We should not rely on him. If we want to make things right, we as citizens will have to engage, fight, and do this ourselves. We must be active. It isn’t only Sara Palin who has the right to act. We do.

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