So let me see if I have this right… The threat posed by terrorists was so great that we needed to set aside basic principles like the rule of law and justice in order to capture, torture, and even murder suspected terrorists in order to obtain information about possible terrorist activities which may or may not be planned for some unknown place at some unknown time. And all this because we couldn’t take any chances. Moreover, the people who organized, approved, and carried out all that criminal activity shouldn't even be investigated, never mind prosecuted, because it's not a "real" crime when you're following the advice of a lawyer.
Yet we can't afford to have gay people in the military helping to defend the nation from those threats. Because, you know, they're gay and all, and that's worse than a mushroom cloud over New York City. I guess that's what they get for letting in all the queers instead of kicking them out like the Army does, right? I have trouble conceiving of how afraid a person must be of homosexuality to regard the presence of gays so threatening that a more absolute, impenetrable line against them must be drawn than the lines they are willing to draw against torture and murder.
Why is our government continuing its coddling and supporting of bankers, investors, and others who crashed the world economy? Sometimes, it actually seems like Barack Obama's approach towards the banks is the same as his approach towards Republicans: assume that they will negotiate in good faith by seeking reasonable compromises on methods of achieving common goals. Instead, every time the reality is that they have no interest in negotiation of any sort because they reject the goals entirely. Rather than a give-and-take on methods, their approach is to insist that they be given everything they want and screw everyone else.
To cite just one example of the Republicans doing this, there was the "stimulus" bill which the Republicans rejected entirely — instead of trying to compromise on some specific tactics, they wanted to dump the entire philosophy behind the bill in favor of massive tax cuts. It was their position that their electoral losses and shattered economy weren't signs that their traditional tactic of tax cuts might be either mistaken or rejected by the voters.
Conservative hand-wringing over the recent report on domestic, right-wing extremists who might be capable of violence and terrorism has been very interesting. Of course we see the typical sorts of deceptions and evasions, like ignoring how the report was originally commissioned under the Bush administration and how a similar report was issued about left-wing extremists. Under other circumstances such callous disregard for facts would shock the conscience, but it's become little more than par for the course for American conservatives.
Far more interesting is the fact that they are upset at all. Why, one might almost imagine that the report specifically targeted the Republican, conservative base of support in America. Or maybe that's precisely what the report did? After all, we didn't see such outrage from liberal and Democratic groups when the government report on left-wing extremists was issued, did we?
During the Nuremberg Trials, the Allied Powers established that "I was just following orders" is not a legitimate defense for heinous and barbarous acts. It doesn't matter how legitimate the authorities above you might otherwise be, they don't have the authority to order to you break the law. It also doesn't matter if they tell you that their orders are legal. If you choose to follow such orders, then you are completely responsible for your own actions — as a morally autonomous and responsible adult, no other conclusion is legally possible. You are not protected by any laws or any international treaties.
You may, however, be protected by the American President. C.I.A. employees and independent contractors who broke the law by torturing prisoners under orders from the Bush administration could be expected to be protected by Bush, but now it appears that they will be protected by Barack Obama as well. So, first Obama defended the ability of the government to engage in illegal wiretapping without even notifying the public about it, never mind be punished for it, and now he is defending the ability of government employees to torture suspects so long as they are instructed to do so — and told that it's all legal and approved — by some credible legal authority.
Why do Barak Obama and his people in the justice department think that they can get away with not merely reinforcing some of the worst of the Bush administration’s excesses when it comes to legal secrecy and authoritarianism, but actually expanding upon it all in ways even Bush probably didn't dare to dream about? The hubris of Obama's decisions in this matter are astounding, disappointing, and downright depressing.
It isn't even necessary for your expectations to be set very high to be disappointed — mine certainly weren't — because rejecting the patterns established by the Bush administration in this area should have been the bare minimum we should have been able to expect. Apparently, though, that was too much.