Obama's Civil Liberties Record
- Seems to me, DEMANDING change, from someone that stated we'd get change we
can believe in, isn't working.
Not much of a surprise when the only Candidates the Corporate Media will
tell you about are the ones the Corporates get their representation from.
So... doing the same thing over and over again produce the same results?
Time to do something different.
Obama's Civil Liberties Record
The Death of Civil Liberty
Obamas First-Term Track Record on Civil Liberties
By John W. Whitehead
November 12, 2012
I was a constitutional law professor, which means unlike the current
president I actually respect the Constitution.Barack Obama (March
Four years after Barack Obama was elected on a platform of change you can
believe in, hes now promising America that the best is yet to come.
However, on almost every frontfiscally, militarily, politically,
sociallythe country is in a state of disarray.
Most troubling, however, is the state of our freedoms. Indeed, during
Obamas first term, our civil liberties were utterly and completely
disemboweled. The great irony, of course, is that this happened with a
self-proclaimed constitutional law professor at the helma man who was
supposed to understand and respect the rule of law as laid out in the U.S.
Not only did Obama continue many of the most outrageous abuses of the
George W. Bush administration (which were bad enough), including
indefinite detention and warrantless surveillance of American citizens,
but he also succeeded in expanding the power of the imperial president,
including the ability to assassinate American citizens abroad and
unilaterally authorize drone strikes resulting in the deaths of countless
innocent civilians, including women and children.
Obama has a lot to account for over the course of his first four years in
office, particularly in terms of the erosion of our civil liberties. Just
consider some of the assaults on our freedoms that took place under
Obamas watch, either as a result of his continuing Bushs policies,
enacting his own misguided policies or simply because he did nothing to
In March 2009, only two months after being elected, Obama defended Bushs
unconstitutional National Security Agency spying program in court. Obama
went so far as to insist that actions authorized by the President,
including illegally spying on American citizens, should be free from any
judicial scrutiny whatsoever.
In April 2009, the Department of Homeland Security launched a program,
Operation Vigilant Eagle, which calls for surveillance of military
veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, characterizing them as
extremists and potential domestic terrorist threats because they may be
disgruntled, disillusioned or suffering from the psychological effects of
war. Coupled with the DHS report on Rightwing Extremism, which broadly
defines rightwing extremists as individuals and groups that are mainly
antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local
authority, or rejecting government authority entirely, these tactics bode
ill for anyone seen as opposing the governmentwhether it be an Occupier,
Tea Party supporter or a free speech protester.
In July 2009, Obama threatened to veto an oversight bill that would have
required the president to inform lawmakers about covert CIA activities.
In December 2009, Obama, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, announced his
intention to ramp up the military industrial complexs war in Afghanistan
and subsequently followed through on his plan.
In February 2010, the Department of Defense issued a U.S. Army field
manual detailing the prospective internment and resettlement of American
citizens in the event of another terrorist attack or natural disaster on
U.S. soil. The leaked document confirmed the fears of many government
critics, from the Patriot movement on the right to Occupy on the left to
Anonymous, anarchists, organized racists, survivalists, and plain old
conspiracy theorists in between.
In March 2010, the Department of Homeland Security began rolling out
controversial full-body scanners to American airports. Despite an initial
outcry about the invasive nature of the scanners and the enhanced patdowns
of American citizens, government officials continued to tout the machines
as safe and effective. A year later, an investigative report by
ProPublica/PBS NewsHour, revealed that six to 100 U.S. airline passengers
each year could get cancer from the machines, which were purchased with
Obamas stimulus funds.
In July 2010, the Obama administration arrested 23-year-old Army soldier
Bradley Manning on charges that he leaked classified military and
diplomatic documents to the anti-secrecy website, Wikileaks. Held in
maximum solitary confinement for close to a year, treatment normally
reserved for the most violent or dangerous of criminals, Manning has yet
to be put on trial. His treatment was intended to send a clear warning to
all those who would challenge the military empireDONT EVEN CONSIDER
In May 2011, Obama expanded the war effort, with bombings in Libya,
Somalia, and Yemen. Later that month, Obama signed a four-year extension
of three controversial provisions in the USA Patriot Act that authorize
the government to use aggressive surveillance tacticseven against
American citizensin the so-called war against terror. That same month,
the U.S. Supreme Court in an 8-1 ruling in Kentucky v. King effectively
decimated the Fourth Amendment by giving SWAT teams more leeway to break
into homes or apartments in search of illegal drugs when they suspect the
evidence might be destroyed. The Court, at the urging of the Obama
administration, sanctioned warrantless raids, saying that police had acted
lawfully and that was all that mattered.
In June 2011, a Department of Education SWAT team forced their way into
the home of a California man, handcuffed him, and placed his three
children in a squad car while they conducted a search of his home,
allegedly over falsified student loans. Raids of this type are becoming
increasingly commonmore than 50,000 such raids occur every year in
Americawith federal agencies such as the State Dept., Dept. of Energy,
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service laying claim
to their own SWAT teams. Also in June 2011, the FBI granted its 14,000
agents expansive additional powers, allowing them to investigate
individuals using highly intrusive monitoring techniques, including
infiltrating suspect organizations with confidential informants and
photographing and tailing suspect American citizens, without having any
factual basis for suspecting them of wrongdoing.
In September 2011, two American citizens were killed during a drone attack
in Yemen as part of a government kill list operation in which Obama
personally directs who should be targeted for death by military drones.
Drone strikes, a signature policy of the Obama administration, have
tripled since Obama took office.
In December 2011, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act
of 2012, which mandates that anyone suspected of terrorism against the
United States be held in military custody indefinitely. This provision
extends to American citizens on American territory. It was quietly signed
into law by Obama on New Year's Eve.
In February 2012, Obama signed the FAA Reauthorization Act, which opens up
American skies for the domestic use of armed surveillance drones, a $30
billion per year industry. Incredibly, no civil liberties protections for
Americans were included in the legislation. By 2020, it is estimated that
at least 30,000 drones will be crisscrossing the nations skies equipped
with anti-personnel weapons and surveillance devices.
In March 2012, Congress overwhelmingly passed and Obama signed the
anti-protest Trespass Billlegislation that makes it a federal crime to
protest or assemble in the vicinity of protected government officials. The
bills language is so overly broad as to put an end to free speech,
political protest and the right to peaceably assemble in all areas where
government officials happen to be present. That same month, Obama issued
an executive order stating that in the case of a war or national
emergency, the federal government has the authority to take over almost
every aspect of American society.
In April 2012, the U.S. Supreme Courtagain at the urging of the Obama
administrationdeclared that any person who is arrested and processed at a
jail house, regardless of the severity of his or her offense (i.e., they
can be guilty of nothing more than a minor traffic offense), can be
subjected to a strip search by police or jail officials without reasonable
suspicion that the arrestee is carrying a weapon or contraband.
In July 2012, the Obama administration began allowing the National
Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) to store and critically assess
information on innocent Americans for up to five years. Data recorded by
the NCTC includes records from law enforcement investigations, health
information, employment history, travel and student records, among other
In September 2012 and in the months preceding it, in major cities across
the country, including Boston, Miami, Little Rock, and Los Angeles, the
U.S. military carried out training exercises involving Black Hawk
helicopters and uniformed soldiers. The exercises occurred in the middle
of the night, with the full cooperation of the local police forces and
generally without forewarning the public.
In October 2012, it was revealed that the Obama administration has been
secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a
next-generation targeting list called the disposition matrix. The
matrix goes beyond the presidents kill list to detail suspects beyond the
reach of American drones. This disposition matrix is also overseen by the
So what does the future hold? Unless President Obama changes courseand
drastically sofreedom as we have known it will become extinct.