Last night, I chatted with MSNBC Countdown‘s Keith Olbermann not only about the predictable fear-mongering from the Cheney wing of America’s national security establishment but about the importance of President Obama trying to replace torture chambers and the Kafkaesque detention nightmare crafted by Cheney and his team with rule of law.
As Keith Olbermann pointed out last night, recent polls show that Americans are increasingly immune to Cheney’s fear-mongering and a majority are supportive of Obama’s actions after the attempted Northwest Airlines bombing by an Al Qaeda operative.
My colleague and friend Steve Coll had a superb piece in The New Yorker this week titled “Threats” that should be read in full. (Coll also writes the “Think Tank” blog at The New Yorker.)
I paraphrased Coll’s comment below that Cheney’s fear-mongering is as predictable as the penultimate scene in a slasher movie.
Here is a clip from Coll’s piece:
Compounding this impression, at least on the cable news channels, has been the resurrection–as predictable as the penultimate scene in a slasher movie–of the Cheney World View. Its principal proponent took time off from composing his memoir to issue a statement to Politico that was so lacking in dignity and restraint that it hinted at the presence of a sinister franking machine. On President Obama:
He seems to think if he has a low-key response to an attempt to blow up an airliner and kill hundreds of people, we won’t be at war. He seems to think if he gives terrorists the rights of Americans, lets them lawyer up and reads them their Miranda rights, we won’t be at war. . . . But we are at war.
Apart from its construction on a false premise (“Now let me be clear: we are indeed at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates,” Obama declared last May; “We are at war,” he said again last week), the statement, and the attention it received, suggested that American discourse on counterterrorism policy remains frozen in 2002.
I also very much liked Steve Coll’s reference of a line in a speech Barack Obama gave in May 2009 at the National Archives:
From Europe to the Pacific, we’ve been the nation that has shut down torture chambers and replaced tyranny with the rule of law. That is who we are. And where terrorists offer only the injustice of disorder and destruction, America must demonstrate that our values and institutions are more resilient than a hateful ideology.
Obama deserves a lot of credit for moving forward a “rule of law package” that is replacing the inhumane detainee operations that violated both American and international law. Former White House Counsel Gregory Craig, who left his post on the 3rd of January this year, deserves great praise and much credit for these gains.
— Steve Clemons