Talk:Obama administration

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 Definition The policy making organization lead by President Barack Obama. [d] [e]
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Trouble with sentence

I can't understand the sentence

A second order banned torture by the U.S. Military, in effect terminating the Bush administration's authorization of extensive CIA interrogation techniques.

What does "extensive CIA interrogation techniques" mean? Some military personnel unquestionably tortured. Some CIA personnel and contractors unquestionably tortured. In both situations, the impetus fairly clearly came from senior Administration officials. If you are saying the CIA somehow has a specialty of developing and using methods of torture, I think that needs to be sourced. Most intelligence professionals, military or civilian, do not consider torture an effective human-source intelligence technique, certainly outside the "ticking bomb" situation if even there (the Spetsnaz technique in that situation was not what many think of obtaining information by torturing suspects). The most significant Western exception, on a doctrinal basis, was Roger Trinquier of France. It's not insignificant that Geoffrey Miller, then a major general who ran Guantanamo detention camp and later made recommendations for Abu Ghraib, was not an intelligence specialist. A Senate investigation found widespread condemnation in the U.S. government, outside Administration pressure. [1]. Howard C. Berkowitz 03:10, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

'Extensive' was me trying to find an alternative phrase to "the Bush administration's CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods" that CNN refers to. Do as you see fit. John Stephenson 10:10, 23 January 2009 (UTC)
Here's what I did. First, I moved the specific Bush administration policies, now cancelled, the George W. Bush Administration. Second, I hadn't see that particular CNN quote about CIA interrogations, but I have started editing torture and some related articles.
While I don't think we can be certain without additional hearings, it seems fairly likely that much of the impetus for torture came from the White House, especially from the Office of the Vice President, and from the Office of the Secretary of Defense, under Donald Rumsfeld. They sent out generic admonitions to "get tough", simultaneously as the staffing for interrogation increased rapidly, using less qualified personnel under limited supervision.
Abu Ghraib was also a disaster waiting to happen, under the conditions of its creation; a good starting point is Phil Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment, which is a large part of the experimental data that prison guards need close supervision — virtually anywhere. The supervisory ratios there were terrible, and apparently some contract CIA interrogators gave the military police orders to "soften up" suspects. Army regulations long forbade allowing Military Police personnel to prepare prisoners for security investigation; that is specifically considered to be a specialist responsibility of Military Intelligence. Perhaps indicative of the political interference is when MG Anthony Taguba wrote a detailed, classified, and apparently exhaustive report on conditions at Abu Ghraib, and it was leaked by the press, he was ordered to retire.
There are some citations to CIA interrogation doctrine in the torture article, such as case studies from the journal Studies in Intelligence speaking of the general belief that torture is a futile technique for obtaining accurate intelligence. Were there CIA officers and contractors that violated doctrine, for reasons anywhere to emotion about the situation to attempting to please political leadership to simply lacking training? Of course! There is, however, relatively little evidence that the core intelligence professionals ever recommended the techniques. It is, for example, indicative that the Guantanamo commander/Abu Ghraib builder had gotten two stars without ever having a full-time intelligence job. Generals do not get assigned without at least some awareness by civilian policymakers. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:44, 23 January 2009 (UTC)

Good idea

I think it would be great if we could keep this page updated as Obama's presidency unfolds. I'd like to see how we can compare to Wikipedia's news backgrounder pages--which really got their start with the article about September 11. The news backgrounder articles proved to be useful, relatively high-quality, and a constant draw for participants. So I do recommend it for CZ. --Larry Sanger 00:40, 24 January 2009 (UTC)

A subsidiary need is to go through existing political articles and be sure they are current. It was, for example, a bit odd to have torture leading with the Bush Administration policy. I moved that policy to George W. Bush Administration and put the Obama policy into the torture article. I've also done a first pass on taking the GWB Administration article out of the present tense; this isn't meant to be snarky but merely accurate. Condoleeza Rice, for example, simply is not the Secretary of State. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:36, 24 January 2009 (UTC)
Glad to see how many updates there have been here... :) (Can you spot the sarcasm?) Anyway, I would propose that we write a shorter summary write-up of the first 100 days (simply a one- or two-paragraph summary of the most important points) and then promote the subheadings for the different policy points to independent main headings, so Obama administration policy can be more clearly organized. Right now I would find it hard to comment on recent foreign policy, for instance, because it is no longer taking place in the first 100 days. Michel van der Hoek 03:51, 2 January 2010 (UTC)
I've never been overly impressed with the idea of emphasizing the first 100 days of any Administration, so your suggestion makes sense. No, I haven't been updating here, but I have been doing political updates elsewhere, including Congress, influence groups, etc., as well as some strategic things such as restructuring of the U.S. political right — on which I have to try for covering all sides as I have no good guess how it will actually go. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:00, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

Foreign/national security/terrorism policy

As you pointed out, Michel, the 100-day emphasis really does distort the policy. While it is quite true that he immediately addressed Guantanamo, that, to me, is far less significant than, for example, the approaches to multilateralism and the Cairo speech. It's certainly fair to say that there has been much controversy over global warming, but then one has to bring up Copenhagen. I have concluded that I have no special expertise on global warming and leave it to others to argue the cases--here, I'd just bring up the ideas of opposition.

It would seem that a reader would find more value in starting to read about a more structured policy, which took well more than 100 days to construct, at the beginning of an article. I wouldn't be opposed to moving "100 day" sections of any presidency to a subarticle. Even for structured policy, such as Afghanistan, those belong in subarticles, such as U.S. policy towards Afghanistan, which does need some updating that I'm willing to do. The Charter and some other articles on which I'm working will take priority, however.--Howard C. Berkowitz 19:31, 2 January 2010 (UTC)

I agree completely. Perhaps a very brief synopsis of the 100 days can simply be absorbed in the intro section (one or two sentences?). I have already taken the liberty of 'liberating' the policy sections and promoting them to main headings. Now "100 days" is orphaned and we could simply delete it.Michel van der Hoek 03:54, 3 January 2010 (UTC)
Separation between national security and foreign policy may not work smoothly, but I've made some interim steps. --Howard C. Berkowitz 05:54, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

Flow and heading issues

As can be seen, I've reordered to reduce the number of major headings, although creating an "Appointments" one that did pick up some later material. It seemed reasonable to put the creation of the Administration early in the article. "Czar" issues still need to be considered.

Is there a better term than "family planning", which will also pick up issues such as same-sex marriage and GLBT military personnel? It is worth noting, I think, that while GLBT is an important Obama constituency, he didn't repeat Bill Clinton's mistake of spending political capital on it early in the Administration.

There may be a better term than "appointments", which would include with such as Van Jones, but also the pressure about Kevin Jennings.

I'm not sure where to put the Henry Gates affair, the Nobel Prize, and other media-centric things. --Howard C. Berkowitz 05:54, 3 January 2010 (UTC)

All looks good. As for "Family planning," the best I can think of is "Social issues", though the term is of course bland. One could divide it up in subtopics:
  1. Abortion
  2. Family and marriage
  3. Gays in the military
  4. Others?
As for the Nobel Prize, that has nothing to do with the Obama administration and I would reserve it for the article on Barack Obama himself (despite the clear implications of the prize for him in his official capacity, but those are nothing but implications). Same goes for Henry Gates etc. Unless any of such issues actually influence policy in a specific area, I do not think they have any place in this article.Michel van der Hoek 02:16, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
I don't disagree with some of what you are saying, but there might be an inconsistency. Only summaries of campaign promises would seem appropriate for this article, insofar as they predict policy -- once the policy is set, that overrides the campaign statements unless one is looking for implications.
For that reason, the material about his personal interest in single-payer healthcare during the campaign has to be subsumed by the Administration and Democratic leadership roles in the actual legislation. He didn't put his full force behind single payer in the House or Senate, although the House bill is probably closer to his campaign positions.
Consider moving the healthcare promises to the personal article, with only a mention here. Then, begin with such concrete things as the 2009 White House Forum on Health Reform, and move on to his work with Pelosi on H.R. 3962 and Bart Stupak's abortion compromise, the fiasco in the Senate, etc. Howard C. Berkowitz 08:19, 4 January 2010 (UTC)
Sure, sounds good. I just got cut off in the middle of developing that paragraph and didn't have time to get back to it. I agree that the material that sits there now has no place in this article and should be in the campaign article or in a separate article on Health Care reform. I'm inclined not to move too fast on this, since everyone is waiting with baited breath in agony anxiously for the conference result and final defeat (?) passage of the bill. Michel van der Hoek 16:11, 4 January 2010 (UTC)


I did some minor adding and rewriting. I also made the photo of Obama a little smaller and switched places with the TOC. I also removed the sentence about the Birther Movement. I'm not against mentioning it in this article, so if others insist, feel free to put it somewhere. I do feel, however, that the original sentence exaggerated the importance of this topic and probably ought not to be there in the intro section. Michel van der Hoek 23:45, 9 February 2010 (UTC)

Birther details probably should be more in the Obama biographical article. I wonder, however, if there should be a general comment, in the lede, that legitimacy has been an issue of opponents. Let me hasten to add that this obviously was an issue in 2000 with taking the election to SCOTUS, and, for that matter, the Clinton impeachment. Before that, however, things hadn't been quite as bitter for many years. Even during Vietnam, the hostility towards LBJ, and the "hard-hat" support of Nixon, weren't as polarized against government as a whole. I lived in DC in those times, and, even while getting tear-gassed on my way to work, there wasn't the same sense of anger.
At the level of the administration (and the last one or two presidents), it feels like there is a fundamental difference. Reagan was extraordinary in his ability to keep a level of respect on both sides, even when you disagreed with him. --Howard C. Berkowitz 00:18, 10 February 2010 (UTC)