Bestselling author Glenn Greenwald denounced the news this week that President Barack Obama conducts weekly meetings to decide which terrorists to target for assassination. He also criticized liberals for supporting Obama's Bush-like counter-terrorism policies.
"As I've written about many times before, Obama – by leading blind-partisan Democrats and progressives to cheer for these policies rather than denounce them – has converted what were just recently highly divisive and controversial right-wing Assaults on Our Values into fully entrenched bipartisan consensus. But worse than that, he has put a prettier and more palatable face on extremely ugly policies," Greenwald wrote Tuesday for Salon.com.
Greenwald is a former Consitutional and civil rights litigator who has written two bestselling books criticizing former President George W. Bush's counter-terrorism policies. He was reacting to a front page report in Tuesday's New York Times detailing Obama's "hit list."
Every Tuesday, according to the report, Obama convenes a meeting with about two dozen security officials. They scan the intelligence reports and make recommendations on which terrorist suspects to target for assassination. Obama makes the final determination on who to target.
Among Greenwald's many concerns, he criticized Obama's definition of an enemy combatant (any military-aged male in the vicinity of a terrorist suspect), the lack of transparency or oversight, and his legal justification for the program (the internal White House meetings are said to satisfy "due process").
The New York Times report claimed that Obama's counter-terrorism policies differed from those of George W. Bush in public perception only.
"A few sharp-eyed observers inside and outside the government understood what the public did not. Without showing his hand, Mr. Obama had preserved three major policies – rendition, military commissions and indefinite detention – that have been targets of human rights groups since the 2001 terrorist attacks," Jo Becker and Scott Shane wrote.
They also quoted one of Bush's top national security lawyers saying that Obama's policies have undergone less scrutiny because of his liberal reputation and "softer packaging."
Greenwald has been a long time critic, though, of Obama's counter-terrorism policies. He has also been sharply critical of liberals that support those policies.
In February, a Washington Post/ABC News poll showed majority support among liberal Democrats for Obama's drone strikes against enemy targets and his decision to keep open the Guantanamo Bay prison for enemy combatants. (During his 2008 campaign, Obama promised to close the prison.)
In reaction, Greenwald wrote an article for Salon.com at the time called, "Repulsive progressive hypocrisy."
"The Democratic Party owes a sincere apology to George Bush, Dick Cheney and company for enthusiastically embracing many of the very Terrorism policies which caused them to hurl such vehement invective at the GOP for all those years. And progressives who support the views of the majority as expressed by this poll should never be listened to again the next time they want to pretend to oppose civilian slaughter and civil liberties assaults when perpetrated by the next Republican President," Greenwald wrote.