This week, Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States. So now the governing begins -- along with the resurrection of George W. Bush's reputation.
Candidate Obama promised to pull all the troops from Iraq within the first year to 16 months of his administration. President Obama intends to retain Bush's secretary of Defense, Robert Gates -- a man who supported Bush's courageous decision to "surge" and send 30,000 troops, an action that then-Sen. Obama opposed while predicting its failure. When, post-surge, violence in Iraq dramatically declined, candidate Obama refused -- for a long time -- to credit the surge, later pointing to the lack of Iraqi "political reconciliation." But the supposedly nonexistent political reconciliation produced a U.S.-Iraqi agreement -- supported by Gates -- for troops to remain until 2011.
Candidate Obama claimed George W. Bush "shredded" the Constitution. But as president-elect, Obama nominated former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder to serve as attorney general. Holder, in a 2002 CNN interview, agreed with the Bush administration's position that the Geneva Conventions do not apply to terrorist detainees! "One of the things we clearly want to do with these prisoners," said Holder, "is to have an ability to interrogate them and find out what their future plans might be, where other cells are located. It seems to me that given the way in which they have conducted themselves, however, that they are not, in fact, people entitled to the protection of the Geneva Convention. They are not prisoners of war."
Holder also supported the Patriot Act, first passed in the Senate 98-1. The Senate renewed it in 2006 with support from then-Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Both versions included the much-condemned "library provisions," which allow federal agents -- after authorization from a "secret" court -- to obtain suspects' records from businesses, libraries and bookstores during terrorism probes.
Two months ago, the United States Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit ruled unanimously in support of legal warrantless searches of Americans overseas. "The Fourth Amendment's requirement of reasonableness -- but not the Warrant Clause -- applies to extraterritorial searches and seizures of U.S. citizens," wrote the judges. The panel of judges justified "sustained and intense monitoring" as reasonable, given the "self-evident need to investigate threats to national security."
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