Critics of the Obama administration – increasingly from the left – are pointing out that if President Obama is going to think and act like his predecessor when it comes to torture and national security issues, there is less and less reason to support him.
With moderates and independents also growing uneasy with Obama, at least according to polls, he could find himself without any real base of support if he can’t figure out what it is he and his administration stand for.
And given the huge problems facing the country, it will be impossible for Obama to be effective without that base of support.
The latest disappointing news from the administration is Attorney General Eric Holder’s apparent intent to follow the Abu Ghraib investigation model when it comes to torture: Blame it on the people at the bottom.
Today, there’s little question that the abuses of Abu Ghraib and torture overall point directly to the highest levels of the Bush White House – which increasingly means Vice President Dick Cheney, with Bush playing a secondary role.
When the Bush White House could no longer sweep the Abu Ghraib abuses under the table, it responded by trying to pin the blame on the lowest-level participants possible.
Now, with Holder under increasing pressure to investigate the Bush administration’s torture policies, the approach could be distressingly the same. If the intent is to ignore the lawyers and officials, both elected and appointed, who originated, crafted and directed those policies, and focus on underlings who might have “gone too far,” it’s Bush – and Cheney – all over again.
And the others who were involved? Oh, they were just following orders!
Interestingly, Bush began having real problems keeping his various abuses of the Constitution under wraps when the CIA got upset that it was being used as a fall guy. Now reports indicate that the CIA might be similarly unhappy if the Obama administration tries to pin the blame on the foot soldiers while letting the colonels and generals who gave the orders skate.
Obama needs to figure out whether he is more interested in uncovering the truth, or covering up for the Washington establishment.