It's been eight months and it's time for a review. Let's see what we have so far:
- Torture was formerly illegal, but now he claims to have made it more illegal, except that if you did it anyway you won't be prosecuted.
- He's continued to promise that he will sort of close Gitmo. He's promised that the prisoners will get a fair trial as long as a guilty verdict is assured in advance, and if it isn't, they'll get a less fair trial, but if they're acquitted, they get to stay in prison anyway. And if none of that works, well, he's still got Bagram.
- Extraordinary rendition will continue but we are assured that it will be somewhat less extraordinary than it has been before.
- US Citizens no longer get any trial at all if they are enemy combatants, or if they aren't but someone decides to call them one in order to deny them a trial.
- If you are generously granted a trial, your evidence can be suppressed because it's a state secret, or more accurately, because it's claimed to be a state secret. However, in the past, they had to be really convinced that it was secret, but Eric Holder has changed that to be really, really convinced - a great victory for the Bill of Rights.
- Even though we're not going to torture anymore, it's important to keep evidence of the methods secret, because, you know, just in case.
- And because we're not going to torture anymore, we're not even going let a commission look into what happened, because, after all, we probably won't do it again, so what's the point.
- And if we're not going to go after torturers, it would be silly to go after people who merely engaged in illegal wiretapping.
- But let's not get hung up on torture when we need to root gay Arabic translators out of the military and send DoJ officials to argue in court in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act.
- One bright point - Obama has called into question the legality of Bush's infamous signing statements, and has stated that while he will continue the practice, his will be for better reasons. He promises.
Unfortunately, he's not dithering on civil liberties: he's decidedly against. Perhaps not as much as his predecessor, but against, undoubtedly.