Saturday, November 08, 2008

Your Wish List for President Obama

The BBC has a story titled "Inside the presidential in-tray" that made me think of what I would put in President Obama's in-tray as my wish list of things that President Obama could do in the first few weeks of his presidency to make the hope of change be real and actual.

What I'm talking about are executive orders and presidential letters and decisions that do not require legislation or congressional confirmation. These are not legislative packages, and I'm not talking about cabinet appointments (which I assume is a discussion going on elsewhere), but about the kinds of things that President Obama can do on his own by presidential fiat or initiative.

I'm talking about what very practical actions President Obama can take and not just statements of philosophical or political postions. The idea is that these are very direct things to do or say that the President could hand to a staff person and say, "Write it up in the proper language and I'll sign it."

What's on your wish list?

Here's my wish list of presidential orders, just in the order that they percolated to awareness:

Foreign Relations Military issues:

- Order Guantanamo prison closed within two months and all prisoner immediately transferred to federal prisons where they will have the right of habeas corpus and access to attorneys.

- Order the immediate halt to the military tirbunal trials of prisoners in Guantanamo and that all trials be conducted in Federal courts.

- Order the immediate closure of all extra territorial prisons being operated for the benefit of the USA.

- Order the immediate cessation of all rendition programs whether they are "ordinary" or "extraordinary."

- Order the immediate halt of incursions by military actions by both troops and drone missle attacks on the soverign territories of Pakistan and Iran.

- Order the immediate cessation of all torture and so-called "enhanced interrogation" methods.

- Order that the US join and sign the Cluster Munitions Convention of 2008, and the global ban on Landmines with the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, and the US will comply with the terms of those treaties pending ratification by Congress.

- Order the immediate cessation by the Defense Dept of all unanium or other radioactive material munitions on the battlefield without specific and personal approval by the Commander in Chief.

-- Order the immediate removal of three brigades of troops from Iraq.

-- Order the cessation of the "stop loss" program.

-- Order clemency or pardon for all military personal convicted in courts martial for resisting the Iraq War.

-- Write a diplomatic letter to the Iraqi President and negotiators of the Status of Forces Agreement that the US will not keep any troops, even noncombat troops, in Iraq past 18 months without a vote by the Iraq parliment requesting that troops stay.

-- Write a diplomatic letter to President Karzai of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan telling him that the Afghanistan National Assembly must formally request the continuation of US and NATO troops within 12 months and set clear goals for the continued occupation for the troops to remain in Afghanistan. (Did you know that the Afghanistan Constitution prohibits non-muslims from being elected President? Something to think about in light of the current unconditional suuport of Afghanistan.)

- Order immediate compliance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons [NPT] and especially (1) beginning implementation of the treaty provison in Article VI, to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control," and (2) providing a complete declaration to the IAEA of all nuclear materials in peaceful civil facilities under the jurisdiction of the USA and give IAEA inspectors routine access to the facilities for periodic monitoring and inspections as required by the Treaty.


- Order the immediate cessation of arrests at all ICE raids and the break-up of families in such immigration raids. If ICE raids are conducted the ICE officers may only issue tickets to appear at immigration hearings and must also issue citations to managers and owners at the same time or not do the raid at all.

Open Secrets:

- Order that all documents under presidential control related to the runup to the Iraq war be made available to the public to determine who was lying and when.

- Order that all defense department documents related to UFOs be made open to the public. (This may seem silly, but it is symbolic of a "nothing to hide" change in government.)

- Order that all documents under presidential control related to 9/11 and its investigation be opened to the public including all videos, photos, recordings or other evidence of the attack on the Pentagon.

Israel and Palestine:

- Give diplomatic notice to Israeli government affirming support for Israel but condemning Israel for its methods of self-preservation in violation of international law and the human rights of the Palestinians and informing Israel that it must immediately cease to blockade Palestian territories from outside air and sea transportation and the land travel from the Egyptian and Jordanian borders or as a STICK failure to cease this violation of international law will result in the US stopping all military aid to Israel and withdrawing the US veto that is protecting Israel in the UN.

- Give diplomatic notice to the two Palestinian governments that they must immediately cease attacking Israel and as a CARROT the USA will recognise the right of the Palestinians to their own state or states as they choose or as a STICK the US will approve the invasion of Gaza by international-- not Israeli -- troops in order to allow the Palestinian people to elect a new government that will enforce the cease fire and to hold a constitutional convention if the current governments do not begin planning for one.

- Tell both sides they are acting like knuckleheads and they have to fix this situation by Israel returning to the 1967 borders and both sides negotiating over how to settle the right of return issue (either land swap or reparations) and how to share Jerusalem; and they have to come to terms for a treaty within 18 months.

Domestic stimulus:

-- Order rhe immediate cessation of all no-bid contracts in the military and elsewhere.

-- Order the immediate review by FEMA of the unfinished related to damage by hurricane Katrina and report a recommendation for Federal assistance for the immediate return of all remaining displaced persons.

- Order the EPA to create a comprehensive plan for a national service Environmental and National Resources Conservation Corps.

- Order a review of the bloated Homeland Security Dept. to increase homeland security by dismantelling the HSD and redistributing the servives to appropriate agencies.

- Order all Federal Agencies to stop purchasing regular gasoline powered vehicles unless having a specifically approved exception and to purchase only alternative fuel vehicles such as either natural gas, biodiesel, or hybrid plug-in, behicles.

- Order the Defense Department to prepare alternative energy conversion plans for use of solar and other alternative energy sources for military use.

Presidential responsibility:

- Order the Justice department to conduct an investigation for possible prosecution of President George W. Bush, including but not limited to the charges of torture and murder as outlined in The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder by Vincent Bugliosi and the Recommendations From Bush War Crimes Prosecution Conference to recommend whether an independent counsel should be appointed.
Obama has already stated that this is part of his thinking so there is no need to delay beginning the inquiry:
“What I would want to do is to have my Justice Department and my Attorney General immediately review the information that’s already there and to find out are there inquiries that need to be pursued. I can’t prejudge that because we don’t have access to all the material right now. I think that you are right, if crimes have been committed, they should be investigated. You’re also right that I would not want my first term consumed by what was perceived on the part of Republicans as a partisan witch hunt because I think we’ve got too many problems we’ve got to solve.”

"I think it’s important– one of the things we’ve got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I’ve said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. Now, if I found out that there were high officials who knowingly, consciously broke existing laws, engaged in coverups of those crimes with knowledge forefront, then I think a basic principle of our Constitution is nobody above the law — and I think that’s roughly how I would look at it.”

Okay that's enough for now. I am very interested in see what others would put in President Obama's "to-do without delay" in-tray.

I first posted the above at at Daily Kos but I got very few responses on the subject of a wish list for "to-do" items that would go into President Obama's "in-tray," that is, those things which a president can get accomplished merely by signing his name and not needing the cooperation of Congress to pass the legislation or confirm the appointment.

Apparently the concept of "what can President Obama do with the stroke of his pen?" is not as interesting to others as it is to me.

Now here is a website that may appeal to more people because it is not so policy wonky as I am and not about detailed action items but priority goals. At you can add your own priorities to the collective consciousness without becoming too bogged down in specifics.

Jim Gilliam says our priorities are combined on his website like TV's Neilson ratings to create a master list of priorities of the people.

From the website:
White House 2 is completely independent of the U.S. government, the official White House website at, and any political party. The only ideology here is the collective will of the American people. If you disagree with something, change it!

The site is managed by Jim Gilliam, under the direction of U.S. citizens like you. More about the site, our three simple rules, and strict privacy policy. Feedback and suggestions are welcome here, and please email press inquiries to

You can add priorities and change your ranking of your previously ranked priorities.

My first personal top ten priorities were:
1. Stop the Iraq War
2. Stop the Afghanistan War
3. Kill the Patriot Act
4. Enact Universal Single-payer Healthcare
5. Shut down Guantanamo
6. stop torture
7. restore habeas corpus
8. End using landmines, cluster bombs, and uranium munitions
9. End Bank's Power to Create Money- Only Create Money
10. Rebuild New Orleans making sure EVERYONE has a home

Check it out for yourself.

1 comment:

Jim said...

Thanks for getting involved in the White House 2 network, and spreading the word.