will obama run away from his first death match?

A while back, someone explained a simple idea to me: most political fights are optional. There will always be another election, another bill, or whatever. However,  some fights are not optional: death matches, the political fights aimed at your complete destruction – such as criminal investigations, laws that ban your business, etc.  Fortunately, such fights are rare in our lives.

For the first time in his life, Barack Obama is coming up on a death match. According to Newsweek, and linked by Andrew Sullivan, there is now a vicious argument over whether the CIA should release Bush era memos that justify the use of torture in anti-terrorism efforts. To sum it up, Attorney General Eric Holder has approved the public release of the documents. The old guard CIA bureaucrat John Brennan is fighting civil war to oppose the release. The Attorney General can’t settle this issue, only the President can.

How is this a death match? Pretty simple, as more documents are released that link Bush era officials to illegal torture, the more likely that someone will be indicted and go to jail. And that someone may be a very highly placed official. This fight may not directly threaten Obama, but it is a death match for some very powerful people and Obama will be the person to settle it.

Previously, Obama signaled that he wasn’t in a rush to prosecute Bush era officials. Correctly, he probably views such a fight as a drain. On the other hand, Holder seems to be utterly serious about bringing this to light, with full consequences. But that puts Obama in an interesting position. Will he side with Holder and incur the undying wrath of the opposition party? Or will he sweep it under the rug so he can more smoothly push the rest of his agenda?

Andrew Sullivan comes up with the right moral spin: “Only the president can resolve this. And when he does, we will see more clearly than at any previous point how committed he really is to change we can believe in.”


Written by fabiorojas

April 6, 2009 at 1:49 am

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