Thursday, May 16, 2013

Obama’s assault on civil liberties.

A concise list by Steve Rosenfeld:
 1. War on whistleblowers. The seizure of AP phone records is just the latest twist in a deepening war on media whistleblowers. Obama has revived the century-old Espionage Act to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped these actions in secrecy. For example, the DOJ told the AP last Friday that it had already taken the phone records with  one line in a letter.
2. War on domestic dissent. The Atlantic’s Wendy Kaminer, writinga powerful piece after Obama’s second inaugural said, “Kelly Clarkson’s musical paean to liberty seemed more sincere.” She  lists five areas where the Obama is worse that Bush on civil liberties. “They include, but are probably not limited to, summary detention and torture; the prosecution of  whistleblowerssurveillance of peaceful protesters; the criminalization of  journalism and peaceful  human-rights activism; and extensive  blacklisting that would have been the envy of Joe McCarthy; and  secrecy about a shadow legal system that makes the president's ‘We the people’ trope seem less inspirational than sarcastic.”
3. Expanded surveillance state. In May 2011, Obama  signed a renewal of several of the Patriot Act’s most controversial segments, including the use of ‘roving wiretaps,’ the government’s expanded access to  business records, and the ‘lone wolf’ provision, which allows surveillance of individuals not affiliated with any known terrorist organization.  And last December, Obama signed five-year extension of the FISA Amendments Act, which was temporarily blocked in federal court but the administration is appealing it.
4. No legal recourse. Obama has claimed power  not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to execute them if they join America’s enemies abroad, about which  The New York Times said, “It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing.” The Bush administration never claimed this right, but last fall  The Washington Post reported the administration was formalizing a process for approving kills or captures and initially the CIA will  not be bound by the new rules.”
5. Expanded military tribunals. Military justice systems do not fall under the U.S. Constitution. In late 2011, Obama  signed a bill codifying theadministration’s stance on military commissions and detention of terror suspects that extended Bush war on terror doctrine.

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