Hmm. So after a resounding electoral victory, an inauguration the likes of which we've never seen, and an odd new empathic burst of shared purpose, President Obama did what now?
He followed Bush's lead on civil liberties.
Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit
The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.
A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn't changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.
It's because of that last item I listed above -- that sense of shared purpose, of belief that all of us are going to get pointed in the right direction -- that this stings so much. "Extraordinary rendition" was one of the most galling of the Bush junta's excesses. Ashcroft, Gonzales & Co. had relied upon "state secrets" privilege to prevent courts from ruling on cases like Mohamed, in which five plaintiffs had been forcibly deported to other countries (we still don't know where) and tortured.
On one of its first chances to turn away from the dark side, the Obama administration has stepped right in the footprints set down by Bush. "State secrets" still prevent the tortured from having their day in court. It's a disgrace.
The only hope I hold out -- and it's a thin one -- is that the situation around rendition is as convoluted as that surrounding the prosecutorial cases for the Guantanamo detainees. Perhaps on this issue, too, the Bushies left such a scorched landscape in their wake that the Obama Justice Dept. is having trouble making head or tail of what went on in the course of "extraordinary rendition." Perhaps they will do the right thing and revisit Mohamed again down the road.
I hope so. I hope Obama is not the Manchurian candidate I feared he might be.