Obama is retreating again on his position against torture and rendition.

Bad enough that we learned last week that he had made an exception for “facilities used only to hold people on a short-term, transitory basis.”

This week we learned that Obama’s Administration has reaffirmed one of Bush’s egregious positions on rendition.

The case involves Guantanamo detainee Binyam Mohamed, who had been a victim of extraordinary rendition and who claims he was tortured by guards in Morocco using a razor blade repeatedly on his penis.

The Bush Administration asked that Britain not release documents about Mohamed’s mistreatment. But it wasn’t just a request from Bush. It was a threat.

The Bush Administration said that if London released the documents, the United States would sever intelligence sharing with its traditional ally.

Now Obama, who has signed executive orders against torture and extraordinary rendition and who has vowed to improve relations with other countries, is simply following the bloody Bush script.

On Wednesday, the British high court refused to release the documents, saying that Obama’s “position remains the same” as Bush’s.

The British high court wasn’t happy about this.

“We did not consider that a democracy governed by the rule of law would expect a court in another democracy to suppress a summary of the evidence contained in reports by its own officials,” two justices said.

They added that it was “difficult to conceive” why the U.S. government still objected to the release of the documents, which would result in “no disclosure of sensitive intelligence mattes.”

The ACLU is not happy, either.

“Hope is flickering,” said Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU. “The Obama Administration’s position is not change. It is more of the same. This represents a complete turn-around and undermining of the restoration of the rule of law.”

Romero added: “The latest revelation is completely at odds with President Obama’s executive orders that ban torture and end rendition, as well as his promise to restore the rule of law. . . . The policies of the Bush Administration have come back to haunt America.”

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The new head of the Environmental Protection has a history of suing the agency for trying to do its job.

The reach of this story extends from the lowliest working stiff to the highest court in the land.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

Public School Shakedown

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