You can call it paranoid pragmatism: Encouraging hope for the best... but expectation of the worst.
"You deserve every good thing, honey, but it's probably never gonna happen!" That's what I tell my dog, every day, while he stares at the aquarium and drools.
Less than two weeks ago, President Obama signed executive orders ordering the closing of Guantanamo, shutting down the CIA's so-called "black site" prisons abroad, and banning illegal Bush-era interrogation techniques. Yay! The Rule of Law was back!
Except some people (like me because sometimes I'm paranoid) were convinced it wasn't entirely true.
"A big day today for the Constitution. However, there is an asterisk on the rule of law, warm fuzzy here.
"Wait a minute. What does that mean? Does that mean the CIA can still get their naked pyramids?"
"The question is, do the Obama rules allow for the possibility of a creepy third option, some sort of continued detention without trial?"
So there I was, on my own show, freaking out on camera right before I talked to our guest that night. It was Jameel Jaffer, who happens to be just the director of the ACLU's National Security Project!! And even as I was totally tweaking on the idea that Obama was pulling one over on us, that there was something awful in the fine print. Mr. Jaffer -- who knows a little bit about these things, wasn't freaking out at all.
Here he is talking me down on that same January 22nd show:
Today is a great day for civil liberties. In many ways, these executive orders are exactly what we have been waiting for. And I think it is worthwhile to take a moment just to recognize how far these policies are from where we were just a couple of days ago.
So that was kind of embarrassing to be so paranoid in front of that guy -- who really knows when it's right to be paranoid.
Which brings us to this weekend's reporting in the L.A. Times that President Obama's executive order actually allows the CIA to continue the Bush Administration's policy of rendition. The article cites anonymous sources.
So the new administration is going to continue to allow kidnapping and indefinite imprisonment and sending prisoners to countries that allow torture? That's what I was worried about before, but the civil liberties guys keep telling me that it's really not like that!
What's with anonymous leaking to the press from "current and former intelligence officials" trying to make it seem like Obama is keeping Bush's policies when I don't think he is? I need a talking down here is Obama being undermined by Bush loyalists who want to make it seem like Bush's worst policies weren't so bad? That they're being kept by the popular new guy?