Obama’s Sugar-Coated War on Terror

The “war on terror” is out but of course its substance remains and even expands. The Obama administration has ended the use of Bush’s terminology, but not Bush’s despotic anti-terror policies.

The administration will continue indefinite executive detention of terror suspects and others swept up in the guise of anti-terrorism—but it will not call them “enemy combatants.”

Conservative voices from Sean Hannity to the Wall Street Journal have noted this Orwellianism, typically defending the Bush policies and demanding that they not be undermined by euphemism. Liberal voices, including at the ACLU, also agree this abuse of language is meant to obscure the policy continuity, although they tend to be more critical of the substantive policies.

In terms of substance, Obama signifies the continuation of state secrets, signing statements, immunity for officials for torture and surveillance abuses, warrantless wiretapping, indefinite detention, foreign prison camps like Bagram where abuse is rampant and a status quo foreign policy of imperialism, foreign occupation, bombings, mission creep, bellicosity and aggressive expansion. CNN might celebrate the White House talking points indicating the Bush years are over, but the Obama policy looks like the war on terror to me.

Anthony Gregory is a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and author of the Independent books American Surveillance and The Power of Habeas Corpus in America.
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