During Transition, Obama “Signaled” Endorsement of Bush Secret Programs

In a 2007 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations, Obama promised to roll back the secret programs put in place by Bush and restore civil liberties and respect for the Constitution. Here’s an excerpt:

This [Bush] Administration…puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom.

That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.

This [Bush] Administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not. There are no short-cuts to protecting America, and that is why the fifth part of my strategy is doing the hard and patient work to secure a more resilient homeland.

But since Obama took office, his Justice Department has defended every Bush/Cheney policy and refused to hold any Bush administration or CIA officials accountable for torture, rendition, and illegal spying on Americans. Obama has instead gone even further, claiming the right to assassinate American citizens on the sole authority of the President.

The new season of PBS Frontline begins next Tuesday with a bang. The show is part of Frontline’s collaboration with the Washington Post in an investigative project called Top Secret America.

Today Frontline posted some teasers for the show, one of which I found unsurprising but still very important.

FRONTLINE has learned from a former high-ranking CIA official that even before he took office, Obama’s team “signaled” they had no intention of rolling back secret programs begun under the Bush administration. In his first televised interview, for next Tuesday’s Top Secret America John Rizzo, a 34-year agency veteran described as “the most influential lawyer in CIA history,” tells FRONTLINE:

I was part of the transition briefings of the incoming Obama team, and they signaled fairly early on that the incoming president believed in a vigorous, aggressive, continuing counterterrorism effort. Although they never said it exactly, it was clear that the interrogation program was going away. We all knew that.

But his people were signaling to us, I think partly to try to assure us that they weren’t going to come in and dismantle the place, that they were going to be just as tough, if not tougher, than the Bush people….

With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.

You can watch part of the interview at the Frontline link.

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15 Comments on “During Transition, Obama “Signaled” Endorsement of Bush Secret Programs”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    • WomanVoter says:

      I think the most alarming questions in the report are that there is no oversight, no accountability for duplications, no disclosures of funds spent (?), no data on success rates, and the sad part is that we citizens including those ‘suspicious’ nuns are being treated as terrorists.

      I still wonder where the 2.3 Trillion dollars that Donald Rumsfeld reported missing on September 9th, 2001 from the Pentagon is, and how the only records were destroyed on September 11th.

  2. WomanVoter says:

    I have always wondered why we haven’t seen any legal briefs or articles he had/has written, but alas I think it might be that he was never that into Civil Liberties and he didn’t do any Civil Rights work like Ginsburg with the ACLU. I know you will be surprised, but I am disappointed…maybe deep down I had hoped to be proven wrong. :-(

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    Damn, thank you for pointing this Frontline out for us BB. I guess after Obama is done with the white house he will be in the same position as Bush and Cheney…can’t leave the us for fear of getting nabbed for war crimes? Or am I just reading this whole thing wrong?

  4. Fannie says:

    Interesting………..I don’t think we will ever know the real truth………….and Obama is doing what Bush was doing covering it up. Richard Clarke had thrown out grounds for impeachment when it came to Saddam Hussein…………..but nothing was done, just like they ignored the warnings from CIA agencies, and they didn’t even alert the airlines…….

    Everytime I see Condi, in my mind I am thinking
    “we never thought the evil doers would fly airplanes into the buildings”
    “we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud”

    Today she admitted that she said Cheney was right, but that she wasn’t all teary eyed…………
    Might not have been tears on her pillow, but they sure were on mine Sep 11……….

  5. dakinikat says:

    This is one of those things that you just have to shake your head at. You can’t believe anything he says in speeches.

    • northwestrain says:

      He has a very long history of saying one thing to one group and the “signaling” that he didn’t really mean what he just said.

      And he happens to be more unbelievable then ever before — because he now has a record of what he has said that can be compared to what he does (or doesn’t do).

      I remember when I first learned that he was running — I though — great it “sounded” like he had experience. the late and undead Buzzflash was hyping 0’s books and he had a cheering section. I never jump on board without doing research — and even light research showed that there was too much unknown and too much not quite right with 0.

      The biggest thing I have against him is that he is a dirty rotten liar — LIAR. and honesty are very important core values — little white lies and personal secrets are very different than flat out lying.

      A quote I’ve heard off and on — “Thieves steal your stuff but liars can get you killed.”

      Cheney & bush lied us into war and 0 has kept us there and keeps up the lies. Thousands of people have died and are dying because of the lies.

  6. ralphb says:

    I look forward to Frontline with great anticipation. Though I expected all of it, after the FISA vote. it still angers me.