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During his historic visit to the White House to examine his new digs and talk to the current tenant, an all-time unpopular President Bush, a popular President-elect Barack Obama basically pressed for action on the economic front in an atmosphere of courtesy. But he could not have been thinking about how he will be able to undo the poisonous legacy of the Bush administration. It may not be a mere coincidence that the subject of Guantanamo resurfaced on exactly the same day.

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When Camelot meets Guantanamo

PEPE ESCOBAR, ANALYST, TRNN: The shock of the new. Change, embodied by “that one,” comes to the White House. President Bush described this historic first changing-of-the-guard meeting with president-elect Barack Obama as, I quote, “good, constructive, relaxed, and friendly,” according to White House press secretary Dana Perino. Nobody except these two men knows the exact details of their discussion, although a source told NBC News Obama pressed Bush on a stimulus package, aid for the auto industry, and aid for home owners whose mortgage rates are about to go up. But behind the smiles and handshakes and pats on the back and the private-tour glamor, there’s a story these pictures don’t tell. When Barack stepped inside the Oval Office for the first time, he had to be thinking, “How on earth am I going to undo this legacy?”—crimes against the Constitution, crimes against human rights, crimes against US and international law, war crimes, shock and awe, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram, extraordinary rendition, torture, Arabs as terrorists, the separation of powers thrown down the toilet, a US police and surveillance state, a monster financial crisis caused by excessive deregulation. Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has some tips for Obama regarding the information he’s now being supplied daily by the Bush White House. McGovern suggests Obama asks Mike Morrell, the CIA analyst who is now his daily briefer, if he knew, I quote, “’intelligence was being fixed around the policy’” to bring “’regime change’” in Iraq in 2003, and if he really, I quote, “’coordinated the CIA review’ of Colin Powell’s speech at the UN” in February 2003. Besides being extremely alert, Obama has to act swiftly to reverse as many as 200 of Bush’s executive orders. Scores of Obama advisers have been working on it for months now. Closing down Bush’s Guantanamo is key. Dozens of detainees will be put to trial in the US. And about 17 high-level detainees, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of 9/11, they’ll go to trial before a new version of a national security court and not a Bush military tribunal. It will take time, of course, because Congress, they need to approve and empower this new court system. But this goes way beyond the detainees at Guantanamo. The Bush administration disappeared thousands of men—most of them Arabs, and all of them Muslims—around the world or into prisons of the US coalition of the willing. Nobody knows what really happened to all these people. These desaparecidos—”disappeared”—they will also be part of the legacy of Bush, not only as the new Nixon, as many Americans see him now, but as an American version of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.


Please note that TRNN transcripts are typed from a recording of the program; The Real News Network cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

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Pepe Escobar, born in Brazil is the roving correspondent for Asia Times and an analyst for The Real News Network. He's been a foreign correspondent since 1985, based in London, Milan, Los Angeles, Paris, Singapore, and Bangkok. Since the late 1990s, he has specialized in covering the arc from the Middle East to Central Asia, including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has made frequent visits to Iran and is the author of Globalistan and also Red Zone Blues: A Snapshot of Baghdad During the Surge both published by Nimble Books in 2007.