Our Eroding Civil Liberties

Americans are kind of funny, but in a disturbing sort of way. I can tell you what I personally find incredibly disturbing. Most of the people I talk to don’t seem to worry about the state of our eroding civil liberties since the events of September 11, 2001. I don’t know if it’s because they are, for the most part, uninformed. If they don’t go looking for the information, they don’t “get it.” It could be because they have no first-hand experience at having their civil liberties thwarted. In some cases, the people I’m speaking with were very young when the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred and they, frankly, aren’t aware of what we had (past tense) and what we’ve lost. I’ve found that some people believe that we have to offer up our civil rights in order to be safe from terrorism. (Nothing could be further from the truth.) And some people just are not paying attention (read: They don’t give a shit).  I’m a political junkie. I’m always paying attention, and the one thing I’m acutely aware of is just how difficult it is to restore those liberties once they’ve been taken away. For those Americans who are aware of how much our civil liberties have eroded since the misguided ‘war on terror’ began, many were counting on Barack Obama to “restore the rule of law.” That, folks, has been but one disappointment since his election. But it’s a gigantic disappointment.

That there are still ‘Obamabots’ or ‘True Believers’ out there is indisputable. Just go hang out on Facebook for a day. I recently posted my disappointment with Obama’s cave-in on vetoing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Facebook because of the indefinite detention clause and was attacked by more than one true believer. One threatened to ‘un-friend’ me. Frankly, have at it. He was one of about 3,200 of my so-called ‘friends’ so it’s no big loss. I don’t even know the guy. I use Facebook primarily as a political venue, not a ‘friendship’ venue. What amazed me was that I could not get people to understand that, even if ultimately Barack Obama’s veto was overridden, it was important that he put up a fight. I was dismissed from another ‘Democratic’ group on Facebook for the same reason. However, the incident I found the most irritating was the Facebook contact who posted in response that this kind of civil liberties assault (meaning the indefinite detention issue) has been going on for years, so why am I complaining now. Really? My simple answer was that I did plenty of complaining when George W. Bush was assaulting the Constitution. And why am I so outraged now? Because Barack Obama vowed to restore the rule of law when he was a candidate. As president, he has done no such thing. In fact, Obama has extended and/or expanded the majority of the Bush Administration policies. I’m plenty outraged at that. I’m also plenty outraged at the foolish, childish notion that I cannot criticize a sitting president.

So, for the record, I agree with Jonathan Turley that Barack Obama has been a disaster for civil liberties. Sorry, Obamabots, but it started out very badly from the very beginning. Barack Obama essentially made a pact with the devil when he promised George W. Bush that he would neither investigate nor prosecute officials from the Bush Regime for war crimes. (And we all know that there were plenty of those to go around.) According to Turley, Barack Obama embraced the “just following orders” defense for lesser officials, a defense that was soundly rejected by the United States during the Nuremberg Trials.

Another disturbing feature of the Obama administration is the ‘presidential assassination program’ which was developed by George W. Bush but never actually implemented under his administration. It is no longer just a twinkle in Bush’s eye. It is now a full-fledged program under Barack Obama. It essentially allows the targeted killing of American citizens (even if they are not on a battlefield) if the Executive Branch deems that they have engaged in terrorist acts. Furthermore, it was confirmed that the Obama administration authorized the targeted killing of radical Muslim cleric and American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki for his alleged terrorist activities. What happened to the good old days of arresting alleged perpetrators and putting them on trial? President Obama, are you listening? That is what is called the rule of law. Assassination is not.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has just released its candidate’s report card called Liberty Watch 2012, which you can see on my Scribd site. Not surprisingly, the Republican candidates posted dismal scores. But the depressing part of the report is that Barack Obama didn’t do much better, coming in third behind Ron Paul. He scored particularly well on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. But frankly, the lion’s share of the work wasn’t even done by him. He simply signed the repeal into law. In spite of the fact that his administration decided not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), Obama has not come out solidly in support of same-sex marriage. (In fact, early in his administration his Justice Department did indeed defend DOMA, invoking the same incest and pedophilia bullshit of his predecessor.) Finally, even when he had the majority, the Obama administration could not muster the political will to push through a real no-brainer like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). All this act guarantees is that an employer cannot terminate an employee simply because of his or her sexual orientation or gender identity. I think it’s fair to say that the only reason someone should be terminated is for poor job performance. The depressing aspect of all this is that Barack Obama is the only game in town if you’re a Democrat. President Obama has no Democratic competition in his re-election bid. I consider that unfortunate.

Aside from all of this, there are many other civil liberties that have fallen by the wayside since 9/11, the passage of the USA Patriot Act and other executive directives and legislation. The unchecked expansion of government powers, particularly in the executive branch, is disturbing. In addition, the assault on the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments is alarming. You can read the details about that on my Scribd site as well in a document called Eroding Liberty, courtesy of the New York Bill of Rights Defense Campaign. There’s also a fairly detailed document called Losing Liberty: The State of Freedom 10 Years After the Patriot Act with a Foreword by Russ Feingold, former progressive senator from Wisconsin, and the only senator to vote against the Patriot Act in 2001. Frankly, I wish he would challenge Barack Obama.



Categories: 2012, Civil Liberties, Constitution, Democrats

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

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