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”Who did we elect?”
By Tonya Morton
It has become cliché to say it, but voting in any political election is largely the task of choosing the lesser of two evils. Americans are an apathetic bunch when it comes to voting; we don’t put much faith in politicians to provide anything except fodder for comedians. Which is why it was so remarkable, in the election of 2008, to witness all the earnest talk of “hope” and “change.” It was a time of national reversal; the election of Barack Obama was a complete denunciation of the Bush administration. Obama, we thought, would bring truth and openness to American politics. He would bring us back into the international community. He was just so different.
But, as the election results faded from TV screens, so too faded Obama’s different ap­proach to politics. Most liberals still parrot support for Obama’s shifting opinions, and most conservatives still decry his policies, (even as they began to mirror their own,) but increasingly the population scratches its head and asks, “What exactly does this guy stand for?” Consider these facts:
the coup-installed leaders. The elections were denounced by Amnesty International, the Human Rights Watch, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the ruling party was found to have intimidated, beaten and detained their opposi­tion. After the conservative party was “elected” in a landslide, Obama’s ambassador to Honduras hailed the results as “a great celebration of Democracy.
To read more:
Aristide Says U.S. Deposed Him in ‘coup d’etat’
New Honduran Leader Calls Election Clean
The Sham Elections in Honduras
Offshore Drilling:
In July of 2008, President Bush, with the support of the right wing, promised the lift the ban on offshore drilling. His Minerals Management Service (MMS,) which oversees oil drilling leases, among other things, is embroiled in a sex and drugs scandal.
In Obama’s frst year, his adminis­tration opened 53 million acres of offshore land to drilling, an all-time high. Ken Salazar, Secre­tary of the Interior, left the man­agement of MMS largely in the same hands who had participated in the culture of corruption and de­regulation under the Bush adminis­tration. One of the leases that passed through the hands of MMS in that frst year was for BP’s Deepwater Horizon well, which was hastily ap­proved, despite the fact that the ap­plication for the well contained no contingency plans for a blowout. In March of 2010, Obama called for even more expansion of the offshore drilling program. After the Deepwa-ter Horizon well began gushing oil into the Gulf of Mexico, Obama put into place a moratorium on offshore drilling that was not, as Secretary of
Federal Whistleblowers:
Despite the emphasis on secrecy during the eight years of the Bush administration, no one was convicted under that administration for revealing federal secrets to the press. One Defense Department offcial was detained in his home for 10 months for revealing secrets to a Pro-Israeli lobbying group and Scooter Libby was convicted of per­jury for lying about his statements to the press.
In the frst year and a half of the Obama administration, federal whistle-blowers have become a serious target. An NSA leaker was indicted on 10 felony charges. An FBI translator is serving 10 months for leaking information to a blogger; and a military intelligence analyst has been arrested for releasing a video of Americans shooting Iraqi civilians to the website Wikileaks.org.
To read more:
Obama Takes a Hard Line Against Leaks to Press
Use of Private Contractors:
In 2008, President Bush threatened a veto on a defense spending bill, forcing the Sen­ate to remove a provision which would have barred the use of private contractors in in-
terrogations. Because the contractors operate in a legal black hole, accountable to no one, the Senate felt they should not be trusted to act responsibly with detainees. However, in deference to the President, the provision was removed.
the Interior Ken Salazar stated, “a moratorium that will affect production.” The reason it wouldn’t affect production is because it only ended drilling at less than one per­cent of the rigs in the Gulf.
The moratorium has since been struck down.
In 2009, the provision to ban contractor interroga­tions returned, this time attached to the 2010 defense funding bill. The Obama administration’s response?
They asked the Senate to kindly remove the provision again.
Perhaps the reasoning has something to do with the fact that the use of private contractors is at an all-time high under Obama. As of February 2010, U.S. contractors in Afghanistan outnumbered U.S. soldiers by almost 30,000. In Iraq they outnum­bered soldiers by almost 10,000.
To read more:
Bush Calls on Congress to Lift Oil Drilling Ban
Rolling Stone: The Spill, The Scandal, and the President
Nuclear Power:
In 2005, Bush called for new investments in nuclear power, urging Congress to ap­prove new nuclear plants.
In 2010, Obama pledged $8 billion dollars to fund the frst new nuclear power plants in three decades.
To read more:
Administration Bridles at Bar on Contrac­tors
To read more:
Bush Sees Green Reasons for Nuclear Power
Obama Pledges $8 Billion for New Nuclear Reactors
DOD: Contractor Support of U.S. Operations in USCENTCOM AOR, Iraq and Afghanistan
Latin America:
In 2004, the Bush administration was implicated in the Haitian coup d’etat which removed President Jean-Bertrand Aristide from his offce and from his country. Aristide claimed that U.S. offcials kidnapped him from his home and forced him to leave Haiti. While the U.S. offcially denied any involvement, members of the U.S. Congress and leaders of other Latin American countries expressed their support for Aristide and denounced the actions of the U.S.
Reliance on Predator Drone Attacks:
During the Bush administration, the technology behind the Predator Drone attack was honed. Both the military and the CIA participate in unmanned bombings, directed by sol­dier, CIA operatives, and private contractors. Under the eight years of Bush’s presidency, there were 45 unmanned Drone attacks. Critics raised the legal issues involved with targeted assassinations, which were declared illegal in 1976, but the arguments are largely ignored.
As of April 2010, President Obama’s administration had already presided over 80 drone attacks. While the military carries out legal strikes in Iraq and Afghanistan, the CIA and private contractors carry out covert unmanned bombings in Pakistan, a country with which the U.S. is not at war. To avoid the diplomatic issues of the targeted assassina-
In 2009, a coup d’etat removed populist Honduran president Manuel Zelaya from of-fce. The U.S. wasn’t implicated in Zelaya’s removal, and Obama offcially denounced the coup; however, in November of 2009, the U.S., one of only three countries to make such a promise, said it would support the results of the sham elections held by