By: Kevin Gosztola
Michael Hayden, former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director under President George W. Bush, delivered a speech yesterday where he outlined the ways that President Barack Obama has managed a “practical consensus,” which has fostered “powerful continuity between two vastly different presidents”—himself and his predecessor, Bush.
Hayden noted “targeted killings” had “increased under Obama.” They had gone up because he closed CIA “black site” prisons and ended torture of detainees. Capturing terror suspects for imprisonment became “politically dangerous,” so Obama took another route: he just decided to kill them all. (Of which, Hayden said: “I don’t morally oppose that.”)
The former CIA director highlighted Obama’s failure to close Guantanamo, the administration’s invoking of the state secrets privilege in “war on terror” cases and supporting the continued legalization of the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping program through the reauthorization of the FISA Amendments Act. He personally thanked Obama for invoking state secrets because in some of the cases he had been named as a defendant.
Heading into November, President Barack Obama has America on a path to further entrenching the perpetual war on “terrorism.” No longer packaged and pushed as the “war on terror,” he has cosmetically retooled how some of the worst Bush administration policies are presented to the public. In many cases, these policies are not publicly described to US citizens at all.
The neoconservative war doctrine has been modernized and fine-tuned. Unilateral preemptive war is no longer conducted with a large number of forces. Instead, the government under Obama covertly launches operations with forces spread out around the globe. At any time, a small operations squad can be sent in to target and kill or a drone can be launched to extrajudicially assassinate a person.
The imperial dominance of the world by America has been strengthened under Obama. Hayden, Cheney, Rumsfeld and other Bush officials are pleased, because what he has done dissuades future presidential candidates from promoting policies when they campaign that aim to address unchecked executive power. It shows the national security state will envelop anyone elected, forcing them to dial back their idealism. And, in the arc of history, it vindicates the Bush administration, which was accused of war crimes and other massive abuses of power but, now, thanks to Obama, they are free to write books, give speeches, pen op-eds and go on television to celebrate what they did and tell the world it was not they who were wrong but Obama, who just did not know what it took to be the leader of the so-called free world.
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