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Posted at 5:07 PM ET, 01/18/2011

Glenn Greenwald: It's like Bush-Cheney all over, but worse!

By Jennifer Rubin

The left-leaning Glenn Greewald, who unlike virtually all other liberal bloggers has taken a consistent position on the war on terror (criticizing Obama on the same basis on which he excoriated the Bush administration), writes:

Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies. At least during the Bush years, we had one party which steadfastly supported them but one party which claimed (albeit not very persuasively) to vehemently oppose them. At least there was a pretense of vigorous debate over their legality, morality, efficacy, and compatibility with our national values.

Those debates are no more. Even the hardest-core right-wing polemicists -- Gen. Hayden, the Heritage Foundation, Dick Cheney -- now praise Obama's actions in these areas. Opposition from national Democrats has faded away to almost complete nonexistence now that it's a Democratic President doing these things. What was once viewed as the signature of Bush/Cheney radicalism is now official, bipartisan Washington consensus: the policies equally of both parties and all Serious people. Thanks to Barack Obama, this architecture is firmly embedded in place and invulnerable to meaningful political challenge.

Well, he does have a compelling argument, even considering differences with the Bush administration over enhanced interrogation techniques.

What is more, Greenwald argues, "Obama's embrace of these policies has completely rehabilitated the reputations and standing of the Bush officials responsible for them." Obama won't admit that, of course. It would be gracious if he did, but it's pleasing for conservatives to hear that the left understands the extent of the Bush rehabilitation.

What is key, aside from the sense of satisfaction for conservatives, is that we may be moving toward that bipartisan consensus on national security that so many have pined for. That leaves the left out in the cold, but given Obama's discovery that the left's policy preferences simply don't work, that's a good thing.

By Jennifer Rubin  | January 18, 2011; 5:07 PM ET
Categories:  National Security  
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Comments

I do think there's something to this. If Bush's TSA had been behind the more aggressive airport screening, there would've been protests in the streets over invasion of privacy and unAmerican infringements on liberty by an out of control govt that doesn't trust its citizens. But because it happened under Obama, there was a week of scattered angst (with the angst coming from elements of the Right as much as the Left), backed up by a few strippers in airports, and that was basically it. I was shocked at how timid the Left at large was in going along with something that would've made them livid if it had been widely implemented just 2 years earlier. I understand the impulse to have greater trust in the govt, what it's doing, and how it's doing it, if you happen to trust the President for whatever reason. But I'm not sure that math adds up in real life. No president has much of a clue what's going on in the bowels of govt agencies, including the defense and security agencies. They aren't briefed on details and usually aren't conversant with such details until something bad happens. That's perfectly okay for the most part. But it means there's usually a considerable gap between the high flying rhetoric of any President, and the gory details of government implementation of policy. To me, that means trusting what the govt does and how it does it based on a heightened trust of the President doesn't really add up, even though we'd like it to.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | January 18, 2011 5:28 PM | Report abuse

Oh good grief. There's been no "rehabilitation" for the lying to the American people done by Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld and other about so many things to justify the Iraq invasion. No rehab for deliberately misleading 70% of America into thinking Saddam was behind 9/11. A million innocent civilians have died due to that farce.

Most of America has always been on board with the main, legitimate thrust of fighting Al Qaida. Not clear here whether Rubin is being genuinely deluded about the difference in these two things, but heaven help her if she is. This conflation tactic is one of the oldest slime tricks in their playbook. Only in the sewerhole of the Fred Hiatt editorial pages would these war criminals still get such a voice to squeek about their "rehab". In any other country they'd be standing trial for their genocidal crimes.

Posted by: B2O2 | January 18, 2011 5:43 PM | Report abuse

Jennifer writes:

"What is key, aside from the sense of satisfaction for conservatives, is that we may be moving toward that bipartisan consensus on national security that so many have pined for."

You have to hand it to the neocons when it comes to hypocrisy. Having berated Obama for not being tough enough on China for their human rights violations, Jennifer takes great satisfaction in Obama's capitulation to the right and embracing our own policies of human rights violations.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 18, 2011 6:51 PM | Report abuse

B202 writes

"No rehab for deliberately misleading 70% of America into thinking Saddam was behind 9/11"

This is nonsense. There is no sign that "70% of America" thought that, or that the Bush administration promoted the claim. The main justification urged publicly was the risk that Saddam was developing WMD, a claim that Clinton and Gore had both repeatedly made. As one of Saddam's sons allegedly wrote before he died, the difference with Bush was that unlike Clinton, he meant what he said.

It is indeed true, as we all found out, that Saddam did not have WMD. It may well be that he found it convenient to encourage the belief that the did or soon would, since that belief must have enhanced his power to threaten. But the belief that he did or soon would have WMD was NOT limited to the Bush administration.

As for whether Obama has "rehabilitated" the reputation of the Bush administration, as Cheney said, he has in fact offered them what is often called the highest form of flaterry, imitation. Naturally he has not had the graciousness to acknowledge this. No doubt he intends to run in 2012 against Bush yet again. But in fact he does not seem to have found any better solutions to the terrorism problems Bush struggled with.

Posted by: mikem23 | January 18, 2011 7:20 PM | Report abuse

"Most of America has always been on board with the main, legitimate thrust of fighting Al Qaida"

Really? So, where was all that hysteria about Gitmo, the Patriot Act and interrogation techniques come from?

Posted by: adam62 | January 18, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

I just noticed another bit of nonsense from B202:

"Only in the sewerhole of the Fred Hiatt editorial pages would these war criminals still get such a voice to squeek about their "rehab". In any other country they'd be standing trial for their genocidal crimes."

Well first there are plenty of other papers where one can read a defense of the Bush administration: NY Post, WSJ, London Telegraph, NY Daily News, Deb Saunders in SF, etc.

but I wonder what country B202 is thinking about that has put on trial for "genocide" leaders like Bush. Tony Blair was an active supporter of the war in Iraq, and he is not on trial in the UK. In fact, many countries participated in that war. The Spanish prime minister of the day was another active supporter of the war, his party lost to the socialists, and unless I've missed something Aznar has not been put in tiral by the socialists for "genocide"

So far from it being the case that "In any other country they'd be standing trial" in fact, in the actual world, no national leader who supported the Iraq war has in consequence been put on trial in his own country for genocide, in any country, ever.

Saddam was put on such a war crimes trial, and executed, and as far as any one can tell about these things, very few in Iraq were sorry to see him go. A police state that employs professional rapists, and accumulates mass graves of children, and uses poisons gas against its own people, does tend to have enemies. One can make a good case that Saddam was guilty of genocidal attacks against the Kurds, but one gets the feeling B202 is not concerned about actual genocide, only with the use of the term to attack people who disagree about politics.

Of course in the benighted mind of "B202" perhaps mere "factual correctness" is of no importance.

Posted by: mikem23 | January 18, 2011 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Jen "Seven Posts Today" Rubin on Fire.
Holy carp, I'll be reading for an hour to just to catch up.

Posted by: TominColorado | January 18, 2011 7:38 PM | Report abuse

“There is no sign that "70% of America" thought that, or that the Bush administration promoted the claim.”

Seriously mikem23, who do you think you're kidding?

More Americans Believe that Saddam Was Directly Involved in 9/11
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2003-09-06-poll-iraq_x.htm

Hussein Link to 9/11 Lingers in Many Minds
http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A32862-2003Sep5?language=printer

Are you suggesting that this was by accident?

Need I remind you what Dick Cheney said in September 14 (2003) on Meet the Press?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJiNtpIpD6k

Need I remind you of the bogus story tying Mohammed Attach to Iraqi officials?

“But the belief that he did or soon would have WMD was NOT limited to the Bush administration.”

Sure. Blair was more than happy to go along with the charade and spread the same lies.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 18, 2011 8:31 PM | Report abuse

Greenwald is passionate on this topic because illegal torture and detention are not only illegal but immoral and antithetical to the liberty and ringing freedom that our country, not so long ago, stood for. Rubin spends no time at all here on the subject matter and just wallows in smarm because a "leftie" excoriates Obama. It's a good example of the moral vacuum that neocons skulk around in.

Posted by: rgray | January 18, 2011 8:40 PM | Report abuse

"Are you suggesting that this was by accident?"

A fantastic question. Nothing is ever by accident; all conspiracies are true.

It is ironic that a poster here would bring back the old cut and pastes arguments against the Iraq War for the purpose of DISTRACTING us from the fact that Obama has thrown overboard the entire Leftwing hissy fit about Gitmo, the Patriot Act and enhanced interrogation. Anyway, doesn't Obama seem to, more or less, acquiesce in Bush's Iraq policy as well?

Posted by: adam62 | January 18, 2011 8:45 PM | Report abuse

"Conservatives" (the quotation marks are completely meaningful in this instance) profess to be enamored of small government except when it comes to the Daddy State. Small government is all well and good, except that in the "conservative" universe, the Daddy State must have an ever-expanding portfolio of powers, preferably kept secret from the unwashed masses, to "protect" us. The grotesque conceit here is that somehow once Senator Obama stepped into the inner sanctum and was allowed to know all the secrets that he saw that plain violations of black letter law and his Constitutional duty to see that the laws are "faithfully executed" were necessary and proper.

As a retired police officer from Texas, I find this Dick Cheney-pleasing scenario improbable. However, it does seem to put the onus on President Obama to do two things. One, as Glenn Greenwald has suggested, he should publicly and unequivocally apologize to all those in the previous administration he publicly castigated prior to his election. Additionally, he owes the public at large an equally clear explanation (without, obviously, revealing genuine secrets) as to why it was a "legal black hole at Guantanamo" in 1998 and now its an acceptable location for a preventative detention scheme.

President George W. Bush was wrong on these issues and, almost without exception, President Barack Obama is wrong on them as well (in some cases, like assassinating American citizens abroad, he's worse).

Posted by: ozma1 | January 18, 2011 8:59 PM | Report abuse

conservatives and liberals have a rare opportunity to get on the same page here. many liberals do not support Obama's continuation of immoral and illegal detentions, interrogations, etc. of course, the left/right collaboration breaks down with the Rubin model of celebrating this as some sort of conservative victory. many morals are shared by Americans across political divides and I believe a moral majority of Americans oppose illegally detaining and torturing citizens and foreign nationals.

Posted by: rgray | January 18, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

"without, obviously, revealing genuine secrets"

But if there are genuine secrets, aren't you another one of those "conservatives" who believes that "the Daddy State must have an ever-expanding portfolio of powers, preferably kept secret from the unwashed masses, to "protect" us"? Why not Wikilinks all the way?

"I believe a moral majority of Americans oppose illegally detaining and torturing citizens and foreign nationals."

And yet, oddly enough, only candidates in Democrat primaries trying to run to their rivals' left ever speak for this "moral majority."

"Greenwald is passionate on this topic because illegal torture and detention are not only illegal but immoral and antithetical to the liberty and ringing freedom that our country, not so long ago, stood for"

Not so long ago? When? Haven't you read your Noam Chomsky? It's illegality and immorality and antitheticality to freedom all the way down.

Posted by: adam62 | January 18, 2011 9:43 PM | Report abuse

"What was once viewed as the signature of Bush/Cheney radicalism is now official, bipartisan Washington consensus: the policies equally of both parties and all Serious people."

Yeah, well, actually it was always a consensus of all serious people. It's just that Greenwald was never in that category.

Posted by: Larry3435 | January 18, 2011 10:00 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Larry3435 |
Yeah, well, actually it was always a consensus of all serious people. It's just that Greenwald was never in that category.
------------------------------------------
Greenwald never dodged a draft of went AWOL from the air national guard. Bush/Cheney talk tough but always walked soft as teddy bears. Serious? I don't think so.

Posted by: rgray | January 18, 2011 10:06 PM | Report abuse

You would think the fact that the most far-left President in the history of this country does not dare to abandon a policy that keeps Americans alive would make the lefties stop and think about their absurd opposition to that policy. But read the comments here and you'll see -- no, not for a moment.

You go, lefties! Keep it up. Che for President in 2012.

Posted by: Larry3435 | January 18, 2011 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Among the dubious assertions made by B202 was this: "A million innocent civilians have died due to that farce." The actual figure of documented civilian fatalities according to Iraq Body Count is between 98,383 and 108,501: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/

In short, B202 is wrong by an order of magnitude.

100,000 is a lot of deaths and is immensely regrettable but context is important. Nearly all of those deaths were Iraqis killing other Iraqis, and that didn't start the day the Americans arrived.

Indeed, according to a New York Times article in 2003 by reporter John Burns (http://www.iraqfoundation.org/news/2003/ajan/27_saddam.html), he estimated that Saddam Hussein killed a 1,000,000 Iraqis in his 23 years in power.

I was not an initial supporter of the war, believing as the CATO Institute said, that Saddam's provocations did not rise to the level necessary to justify pre-emptive war, but to imply that more civilians would be alive in Iraq today had Bush NOT invaded is a debatable proposition.

Posted by: TYoke | January 18, 2011 10:15 PM | Report abuse

“The actual figure of documented civilian fatalities according to Iraq Body Count is between 98,383 and 108,501: http://www.iraqbodycount.org/database/”
IRB by it's own admission, vastly underestimates the deaths in Iraq from the war. It practically ignores the vast majority of deaths from aerial bombardment. It only counts deaths that have been reported by 2 or more news sources, one of this has to be in English. That means that all the deaths not reported by 2 or more news sources, or 2 or more reported by non English sources are ignored.

A recent Wikileaks cable has revealed that the US alone is responsible directly for the deaths of at least 100,000. Sy Hersh reported in his expose, Up In the Air, that as of the fall of 2004, the US 3rd Marine Air Wing lone had dropped more than half a million tonnes of ordinance in 16 months. That comes to two 500lb bombs every minute 24/7 or 2 million bombs. Even if only 10 % had caused a fatality, that would mean 200,000 deaths y aerial bombing alone from the 3rd MAW, which does not include the ordinance dropped by the Air Force or Navy.
Now extrapolate 16 months to 80 years and what does that give you?

In short, IRA is wrong by an order of magnitude. That doesn't even take into account the million or more Iraqis that were killed by Americas decade long blockade of Iraq.

The Lancet and a British survey (ORB) has calculated that the deaths are well over a million. So the Us has managed to kill (directly and otherwise) as many people in 8 years as Saddam killed in 25. That's come kind of liberation don't you think Tyoke?

“but to imply that more civilians would be alive in Iraq today had Bush NOT invaded is a debatable proposition.”

No, it's a statistical fact. John Burns' article is very poor propaganda. He flippantly dismisses inconvenient statistics without presenting counter arguments. In fact, State Department estimates put the number of deaths at Saddam's hands at 300,000.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 18, 2011 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh wow. So the Lancet and ORB studies estimated that close to a million Iraqis died during the war. There's just one problem with that argument. (or two or four or six). Those studies have been roundly criticized for their flawed methodologies, poor execution, and so on. One was funded by left-wing ideologue George Soros, and rushed so that it could be published before an election and damage GOP candidates.

Peer reviewers said the ORB data "are not suitable for deriving any credible estimate (and), given proper scrutiny, it is clear that ORB has overestimated by a wide margin."

The New England Journal of Medicine said the Lancet study "considerably overestimated" the number of violent deaths and said the Lancet results were "highly improbable." The man in charge of the study was also cited for violating professional ethics for refusing to answer questions about how he conducted his research.

And those criticisms are just the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, as far as shingo1 and others on the left are concerned, the end justifies the means.

Posted by: dakotadoug83 | January 19, 2011 12:41 AM | Report abuse

Is it impossible for you to spell correctly the names of the lefty bloggers you write about, you disgraceful person?

First Adam Sewer, now Glenn Greewald.

Have you no editorial supervision whatsoever?

Posted by: TeddySanFran | January 19, 2011 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Bush-defenders chime in with cries of anguish over what they claim are inflated numbers of dead Iraqi civilians. After all, apparently, if it's only a few tens of thousands dead along with the millions displaced and God-only-knows-how-many permanently traumatized for the sake of imaginary weapons of mass destruction (cough...aluminum...cough...tubes...cough, cough) then, well, that's just peachy with them. After all, they're only dead Iraqis. It's not like they actually count.

Posted by: ozma1 | January 19, 2011 1:40 AM | Report abuse

“So the Lancet and ORB studies estimated that close to a million Iraqis died during the war. There's just one problem with that argument. (or two or four or six). Those studies have been roundly criticized for their flawed methodologies, poor execution, and so on.”

Funnily enough, the Lancet has been criticized by those who have been only too happy to cite the same methodology as applied to death tolls in all the prior conflicts such a Rwanda, Darfur and Somalia.

It was reported that Britain's leading scientists and advisers to the Blair administration revealed that Lancet's findings were sound. They advised against publicly criticizing a report.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/politics/6495753.stm

Nice try dakotadoug83, but the Lancet has been vindicated.

“Peer reviewers said the ORB data "are not suitable for deriving any credible estimate (and), given proper scrutiny, it is clear that ORB has overestimated by a wide margin."”

The ORB conducted the study twice because they fond the numbers higher than they expected.

“The New England Journal of Medicine said the Lancet study "considerably overestimated" the number of violent deaths and said the Lancet results were "highly improbable."”


The New England Journal expressed editorial concern regarding its published research papers by one of the authors but did not refute the paper itself. The New England Journal has not bothered to even conduct a study of it's own.

What's most interesting is how all the critics of these reports have themselves refused to conduct any studied of their own, which reveals that they these criticism have been politically motivated.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 19, 2011 2:20 AM | Report abuse

Except for his "America Sucks Apology Tour (TM)" at the start of his term, and backing the wrong horses in S. America, Obama has validated Bush/Cheney foreign and WOT policy.
- Iraq continuation
- Aghanistan heavily reinforced
- Predator drone strikes way up
- FISA / Patriot Act wiretaps going strong
Wish none of it was necessary but GG is correct in this instance.

And as VPs go:

1 Cheney = (Biden + Algore)^2

Posted by: TominColorado | January 19, 2011 7:17 AM | Report abuse

Why is Glennn so hateful toward Israel?

When he came out to his parents and brought his boyfriend home to meet them, Mommy Greenwald said to Daddy Greenwald, "At least he's not a Jew."

Posted by: ZoltanNewberry | January 19, 2011 7:51 AM | Report abuse

It's called hypocrisy.

Whatever is done by a Conservative president is evil, horrible, etc.

If the same policies are continued or expanded by a Democrat president...

Nary a wimper from the Professional Left.

To teh Left, it wasn't about "peace" or "the rule of law".

It was about which party held power.

Carte blanche for any Democrat.

What phonies.

Posted by: drjcarlucci | January 19, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

It's amusing to see the heated rhetoric from lefties in the comments. What this mostly indicates is the readership of the Post. I think it is very useful to expose this readership to another point of view, unlike the NY Times which seems unwilling to burst the bubble that surrounds its remaining readership. The Post deserves credit for this. The lefties might even begin to wonder a bit about some of their more outrageous conspiracy theories.

Posted by: mtkennedy | January 19, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

"The lefties might even begin to wonder a bit about some of their more outrageous conspiracy theories."

Unless you view things like the Constitution of the United States and 18 U.S.C. § 2340A as being "conspiracy theories" then there's nothing to "wonder a bit about" at all.

Posted by: ozma1 | January 19, 2011 1:17 PM | Report abuse

I see the gullible voters from the 2008 election are finally starting to realize their mistake. Maybe next time they'll listen.

Posted by: HughJassPhD | January 19, 2011 2:48 PM | Report abuse

So, thanks to President Obama we now have the Bush Doctrine, which, like the earlier Truman Doctrine, will be the bipartisan consensus for the remainder of the Long War.

Posted by: viator1 | January 19, 2011 3:16 PM | Report abuse

"I see the gullible voters from the 2008 election are finally starting to realize their mistake. Maybe next time they'll listen."

Not at all, a President McCain and Vice President Palin would still have been an unmitigated disaster.

Posted by: ozma1 | January 19, 2011 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey, where did all the war protests go?

I want you to imagine for a moment, what kind of moral deficiency it takes *to pretend* to care about casualties of war.

People in favor of the war concede that war casualties are regretable but necessary when the security of the nation is at stake.

But war protestors? Where are they? Obama is dropping bombs on the little brown women and children in Pakistan (without UN permission, I might add) but the war protesters are nowhere to be found. Oh, I guess they are done pretending that they care about them.

Posted by: TheMSMControlsUs | January 19, 2011 3:43 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: drjcarlucci | January 19, 2011 10:02 AM

"Carte blanche for any Democrat.

What phonies."

Greenwald voted for Obama and he's among Obama's harshest critics.

Posted by: Shingo1 | January 19, 2011 4:09 PM | Report abuse

God bless you Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney.

Adults surely do miss you both, and greatly.

Posted by: churchill99 | January 19, 2011 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Hey Shingo you goofball,

The Lancet study is hilarious in its ineptitude and is a disgrace.

Approximately 75000 - 85000 Iraqis died, not the one million plus cited by Lancet.

And, approximately 74999 - 84999 of those deaths were at the hands of Muslim goombahs.

You, sir, are a liberal tool and a dunce.

Posted by: churchill99 | January 19, 2011 5:01 PM | Report abuse

The left's liberalism and foreign policy is both counter-intuitive and failed

LOL

There is a real world and there is the myopic "reality based community".....which is as clueless about reality as a human can be and still live.

Posted by: georgedixon1 | January 21, 2011 10:30 AM | Report abuse

The "anti-war" movement of the 60's was in reality an anti-draft movement

Since a voluntary Military was instituted......wars and almost no antiwar movement....why?

No one cares......so long as there is no draft.

The decline of the left has been and will be fun to watch

Posted by: georgedixon1 | January 21, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

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