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Quick Takes

By Dan Froomkin
2:30 PM ET, 05/26/2009

Jim Rutenberg and Motoko Rich write in the New York Times: "With his sustained blitz of television appearances and speeches, former Vice President Dick Cheney has established himself as perhaps the leading Republican voice against President Obama." One possible reason: "Mr. Cheney is actively shopping a memoir about his life in politics and service in four presidential administrations, a work that would add to what is already an unusually dense collection of post-Bush-presidency memoirs that will offer a collective rebuttal to the many harshly critical works released while the writers were in office and beyond."

Ellen Nakashima writes in The Washington Post: "President Obama is expected to announce late this week that he will create a 'cyber czar,' a senior White House official who will have broad authority to develop strategy to protect the nation's government-run and private computer networks, according to people who have been briefed on the plan." Still unresolved, however, is the "politically charged issue of what role the National Security Agency, the premier electronic surveillance agency, will have in protecting private-sector networks. The issue is a key concern in policy circles, and experts say it requires a full and open debate over legal authorities and the protection of citizens' e-mails and phone calls. The Bush administration's secrecy in handling its Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative, most of which was classified, hindered such a debate, privacy advocates have said."

The Washington Post's Craig Whitlock takes a look at Spain's National Court, where judges, "acting on complaints filed by human rights groups, are pursuing 16 international investigations into suspected cases of torture, genocide and crimes against humanity, according to prosecutors. Among them are two probes of Bush administration officials for allegedly approving the use of torture on terrorism suspects, including prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

David D. Kirkpatrick and David M. Herszenhorn write in the New York Times: "If there was one thing both presidential candidates agreed on last fall, it was the need to close the prison camp at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. But almost as soon as President Obama took office and ordered the camp shuttered within a year, Congressional Republicans... saw a singular political opportunity... Armed with polling data that show a narrow majority of support for keeping the prison open and deep fear about the detainees, Republicans in Congress started laying plans even before the inauguration to make the debate over Guantánamo Bay a question of local community safety instead of one about national character and principles."

Sheryl Gay Stolberg writes in the New York Times: "President Obama observed Memorial Day on Monday just as his predecessors had, by placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns here. But Mr. Obama added a twist: he sent a second wreath to a memorial honoring blacks who fought in the Civil War." Said Obama: "My grandfather served in Patton's Army in World War II. But I cannot know what it is like to walk into battle. I'm the father of two young girls -- but I can't imagine what it's like to lose a child. These are things I cannot know. But I do know this: I am humbled to be the Commander-in-Chief of the finest fighting force in the history of the world."

Blogger Hilzoy takes apart New York Times reporter Helene Cooper's attempt to liken Obama to Bush when it comes to the use of straw-man arguments: "The difference between Bush and Obama's arguments is fairly simple -- Bush just made stuff up, while Obama's critics are actually making the critiques that Obama attributes to them. Somewhat hilariously, Cooper herself concedes this on several of the supposed examples of Obama's 'strawman' arguments."

E.J. Dionne Jr. writes in his Washington Post opinion column that Obama "is out to build a new and enduring political establishment, located slightly to the left of center but including everyone except the far right... The disturbing aspect of Obama's effort to create his new political alignment is that building it requires him to send rather different messages to its component parts. Playing to several audiences at once can lead to awkward moments."

Washington Post opinion columnist Eugene Robinson compares Obama World and Cheney World: "In Obama World, choices are artifacts of reasoning and thus are only as valid as the logic underlying them. Security and freedom, for example, do not have to be seen as an either-or proposition. The nation never came to a fork in the road with one path labeled 'torture' and the other labeled 'disaster.' In Cheney World, choices are binary and absolute. There's no wiggle room, no gray area, no time for second thoughts and no debate about how our options are framed. It's my way or the highway, citizen..... Obama World is an exciting place to live right now -- not perfect, to be sure, but full of energy and hope. If Dick Cheney wants to stay in his bunker, that's his business. Others might want to come up for some fresh air."

Frank Rich writes in his New York Times opinion column: "Despite Barack Obama’s pledges as a candidate and president, there is no discernible movement on repealing the military’s 'don’t ask, don’t tell' policy or the Defense of Marriage Act. Both seem more cruelly discriminatory by the day."

In a New York Times op-ed, John Bolton expresses his great displeasure at Obama administration initiatives to end the nuclear arms race. He calls on the Senate to reject them -- and "keep us safe."

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