Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The Friday evening New Years Eve dump (UPDATED)


(Please scroll down to bottom of post for update)

One in a series that takes a look at some unsavory news being jettisoned from Washington on Friday evening New Year's Eve.

Do you remember when they told us that if we voted for McCain it would mean an unprecedented expansion of the federal government's authority in the war on terror and with respect to constitutional civil liberties? Well, they were right.

In his last official act of business in 2011, President Barack Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act from his vacation rental in Kailua, Hawaii. In a statement, the president said he did so with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge.

The legislation has drawn severe criticism from civil liberties groups, many Democrats, along with Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, who called it “a slip into tyranny.” Recently two retired four-star Marine generals called on the president to veto the bill in a New York Times op-ed, deeming it “misguided and unnecessary.”

“Due process would be a thing of the past,” wrote Gens Charles C. Krulak and Joseph P. Hoar. “Current law empowers the military to detain people caught on the battlefield, but this provision would expand the battlefield to include the United States – and hand Osama bin Laden an unearned victory long after his well-earned demise.”
(italics, ours)

So considering his campaign rhetoric of 2008, does this mean he was against it before he was for it?

However, when you have initiated and then carried through on a program assassinating U.S. citizens who are suspected terrorists overseas, it's not a stretch to sign off on further 4th amendment-inconveniencing legislation.

Funny, we don't hear too much about waterboarding anymore. Seriously... waterboarding?

And amid the deafening silence of Obamabot zombie hypocrites, there's at least one former Obama supporter out there with the courage of her convictions to speak out. Here's Taylor Marsh:

Then there’s Obama’s foreign policy, the issue that weighs most for me, which picked up where Bush left off. Pres. Obama and his “serious reservations” didn’t keep him from signing the NDAA, something any conservative Republican president would sign. Indefinite military detention without trial is now the policy of the Obama administration, which is something Mitt Romney would also do. There is no habeas corpus at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. What is called “targeted killing” has actually increased under Pres. Obama, something Glenn Greenwald writes about regularly. As for “secret prisons,” it’s not quite as a bad as Bush, because now people are held for a “short-term, transitory” basis. But Pres. Obama’s surveillance program is identical to his predecessor. Candidate Obama was against the Iraq war, but he had no trouble bombing Libya without congressional oversight or approval, even though it was not of strategic interest to the U.S. or a clear and present danger. We’ve supposedly gotten out of Iraq, but there is a 104 acre embassy, the biggest on planet earth, with support and logistics to match.

For more on this general O > W theme, please go here. We will be updating the tally sheet in the near future.

Struggling to find the balance between national security and civil liberties is one thing but simply mailing it in from Hawai'i by gutting the 4th amendment because constitutional republics are, like, hard is entirely another.

So, this really is what democracy looks like under a progressive constitutional scholar.

(UPDATE #1):

Nice video wrap-up of the Obama vs. Bush civil liberties tale of the tape.

Maybe the drum beat is getting a little louder but we still stand by Instaglen's assertion that if civil libertarians are serious about shining the light on executive branch civil liberty abuses then they better vote and hope for a Republican presidency every term as that is the only time people pay any attention to that sort of thing.

And speaking of civil libertarians, here is ACLU executive director Anthony D. Romero's statement:

“We are incredibly disappointed that President Obama signed this new law even though his administration had already claimed overly broad detention authority in court,” said Romero. “Any hope that the Obama administration would roll back the constitutional excesses of George Bush in the war on terror was extinguished today. Thankfully, we have three branches of government, and the final word belongs to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the scope of detention authority. But Congress and the president also have a role to play in cleaning up the mess they have created because no American citizen or anyone else should live in fear of this or any future president misusing the NDAA’s detention authority.”

Years ago, when the Patriot Act passed, we were slow to listen to B-Daddy's highly skeptical take on the law as he asserted that though we were at war with the terrorists and for whatever decent and protective intentions President Bush had, President Bush would not be President forever and this Act would simply open the door for abuses of civil liberties for whoever else took over the Oval Office.

Some 10 years on, the gutting of the 4th amendment is complete so we guess we really can thank Bush for this one.



Anonymous said...

I have a problem with the wording "any conservative president would sign", which implies that any left leaning sitting president would never do such a thing.

Constitutional shredding runs equal on both sides of the aisle; just seems to me that when the right does it it's called facism. When it comes from the left its called "for your own good" or "nothing to see here".

Or maybe I am just looking to hard.

Dean said...

It also shows a complete misunderstanding of conservative principles.

Simple-minded hackery.

Anonymous said...

me or her?

Dean said...

Her. She automatically assumes a "conservative" would favor indefinite detention when nothing could be further from the truth.

I believe this is probably what Jonah Goldberg meant by "Liberal Fascism".

SarahB said...

Thank you for putting a more academic spin on this. A lot of folks are talking about it, but making it sound very black-helicopter-ish, which doesn't help convice the average Joe that this is a serious, long term break of basic liberties.

Anonymous said...

agreed-the goldberg book- especially the first few chapters-was an eye-opener.