Public Comment

Things Obama Should—But Won’t—Do

By Kenneth J. Theisen
Wednesday November 26, 2008 - 10:46:00 AM

Barack Obama was elected by people who hope that he will change the political direction which this nation has taken over the last seven years of the Bush regime. When he takes office he will have the power to undo some of the damage of the Bush administration. But he will not do so because he does not owe his political allegiance to the majority of people in this country, but rather to the small class of people who live on the exploitation of the masses here and throughout the world. These are the people he will serve, regardless of the wishes of millions who voted for him. He may tinker with some of the programs of the Bush regime, but he will fail to reverse the fundamentally fascist trajectory. 

I have listed a few of the actions Obama could take if he was a real agent of change. I do not expect Obama to actually try to accomplish many of these items, but I think it is worth reflecting on how much damage has been done over the last seven years and then to think about what it will really take to reverse the course set by the Bush regime. We can not rely on false saviors from the ruling class such as Obama. We must rely on the masses to become politically active in a mass movement to actually have any hope of making real change possible.  

Obama could do, but won’t do, the following: 

He could direct the Department of Justice to begin investigations into the various crimes of Bush administration officials and agents. These would include, but not be limited to: war crimes, crimes against humanity, the invasions and commission of acts of war against sovereign nations, massive spying, torture, kidnapping, murder, assassinations, abuse of immigrants by illegal detentions and arrests, and the use of government offices to politicize official actions, etc. 

He could order the review and repeal of executive orders and presidential directives that potentially give the president dictatorial powers such as Presidential Directive 51. 

He could close down U.S.-run torture sites run by the Department of Defense (DOD) such as those in Guantanamo (He may close Gitmo as a public-relations move.), in Iraq, and Afghanistan which hold prisoners taken in the so-called “war on terror.” He could order the DOD to begin investigations into the crimes committed at these sites. These would include torture, false imprisonment, and murder. Tens of thousands of prisoners have been held in these hell holes. He could pardon any prisoners convicted under the Military Commissions Act which strips defendants of their human and legal rights. 

He could order the CIA to cease renditions and to stop the operation of “secret” prisons. The CIA has kidnapped and outsourced torture to “allies” in the war on terror, including to countries on the U.S. State Department’s own list of countries that engage in torture. 

He could decrease the size of the U.S. military which now operates 750 bases and sites in over 100 countries, instead of advocating the increase of the military by 92,000 troops which he supports. 

He could withdraw all troops and military resources from Iraq and Afghanistan. His Iraq “withdrawal plan” would allow more than 100,000 U.S. troops and contractors to remain. He wants to send more combat brigades and military resources to Afghanistan. 

He could order government agencies to cease covert and overt military operations against Pakistan, Syria, and Iran. He has advocated military strikes and incursions into Pakistan. 

He could order that U.S. military assistance to countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Columbia cease. These and other countries use this aid to suppress their own people. 

He could stop aid to Israel which uses it to suppress the legitimate rights of Palestinians and others and to maintain the most lethal military (including nuclear weapons) machine (other than the U.S) in the Middle East. 

He could dismantle the massive spy operations conducted by U.S. intelligence agencies against Americans and other innocent people. 

He could order the review of all federal regulations that impact the environment. Those that undermine environmental protection could be repealed. 

He could propose legislation to repeal the Military Commissions Act, the Federal Intelligence and Security Act, the PATRIOT Act, the Protect America Act of 2007, and the International Economic Emergency Powers Act. These and similar laws lay the legal basis for stripping people of their constitutional rights and also the creation of a police state. 

He could direct the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to stop raids on work places and other sites. He could direct that DHS stop erecting barriers along the borders that in effect kill immigrants by forcing them to cross deserts, mountains, or other deadly terrain. He could order that the military no longer cooperate in the policing of the border. ICE operations like “return to sender” that target immigrants for deportation could be dismantled. He could pardon all immigrants currently held or previously charged with such “immigration” crimes such as “illegally” crossing the border, using “fraudulent” documents, overstaying their Visas, etc. He could propose legislation that would “legalize” millions of immigrants without various restrictions, penalties, or other inhibitions that would make these immigrants unwelcome in the United States. 

He could order federal agencies to destroy “lists” created in the so-called “war on terror.” These lists contain the names of millions of people and are not limited to “suspected terrorists.” 

He could order the destruction of information gathered under the various spy operations created in the “war on terror.” This would include information gathered against various anti-war groups and their members or other groups that otherwise opposed the Bush regime. 


Kenneth J. Theisen is an Oakland resident and a steering committee member of the World Can’t Wait! Drive out the Bush Regime!