Obama Coming Up Short on Civil Liberties

>> Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is he delivering or not? That seems to be a dividing line right now among democrats and liberals. Is President Obama delivering on the change promised during the campaign? The answer to that depends in part on what you thought he meant by change. Other contributing factors to your view probably include the time frame he has had to operate in, the conditions of the media, the general lameness of the senate, and your own level of idealism versus pragmatism. For instance, i am not going to be satisfied with the end result of HCR, im not going to get the same choice members of congress get. democrats should stop saying that i will. Of course i really didnt have expectations that i would so i dont take that too hard. Civil Liberties on the other hand, i was really expecting better.

A diary currently on the rec list includes this,

President Obama's second core campaign promise was to make government more transparent and accountable, to rebuild a sacred trust that had been seriously eroded. And he has delivered. He closed the revolving door, forbidding anyone who works in his administration from lobbying when they leave their jobs. For the first time in history, names of visitors to the White House will be released, so every American can see which interests and individuals are visiting their government. And the groundbreaking website recovery.gov is allowing Americans to trace every dollar spent and every job created or saved from the recovery act, adding a level of transparency never before seen.

I think that this overstates the magnitude of the actions. I am however willing to grant that he has done some things to increase transparency in some areas. However our capital is generally the color of tar on a whole host of issues including the tarp money and many of the fed's practices. Let's not pretend that everything in washington is exposed to sunlight at this point. Lobbying still exists. Shady back room deals still happen. Beyond this stuff though i feel like part of this campaign promise of openness and sunlight was a reformed legal policy dealing with civil liberties.

There are several key aspects of civil liberties policy that i understood from candidate obama were going to be addressed. I dont think they are disputable. The first is the closure of Gitmo. Next is the end of the military commissions for trying terror suspects. Finally, the end of the extreme use of the state secrets privilege to toss out uncomfortable lawsuits that resulted from Bush Era abuses.

None of those things are happening nor do they look to happening any time soon. There seems to be some movement on DADT which is a policy that candidate Obama was in favor of repealing. It gets talked about without any action. The repeal of that program would most likely buy Obama more credit with those critical of him. Part of the problem is that he really doesnt have a great starting deposit. Almost immediately, he started off badly with the state secrets issue and the military commissions.

In early February, he had an opportunity to back up campaign rhetoric and make a break with Bush on state secrets.

Obama Administration Maintains Bush Position on 'Extraordinary Rendition' Lawsuit

The Obama Administration today announced that it would keep the same position as the Bush Administration in the lawsuit Mohamed et al v Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc.

A source inside of the Ninth U.S. District Court tells ABC News that a representative of the Justice Department stood up to say that its position hasn't changed, that new administration stands behind arguments that previous administration made, with no ambiguity at all. The DOJ lawyer said the entire subject matter remains a state secret.

This is not going to please civil libertarians and human rights activists who had hoped the Obama administration would allow the lawsuit to proceed.

It hasnt improved with time either,

Attorney General Eric Holder says a lawsuit in San Francisco over warrantless wiretapping threatens to expose ongoing intelligence work and must be thrown out.

In making the argument, the Obama administration agreed with the Bush administration's position on the case but insists it came to the decision differently. A civil liberties group criticized the move Friday as a retreat from promises President Barack Obama made as a candidate.

Holder's effort to stop the lawsuit marks the first time the administration has tried to invoke the state secrets privilege under a new policy it launched last month designed to make such a legal argument more difficult.

In addition the administration took a hard line on the media shield law demanding that the national security arguments be removed from the balancing test used to determine if compulsion of sources is required.

President Obama has also declined to eliminate the military commission as an available forum for the trial of accused terror suspects.

Looking at the steps he has taken, the tinkering made, and the lack of action im not happy. I dont think president Obama is doing a good job here and i do not believe he is delivering on the change he offered in the campaign. I understand he has only had nine months but these are actions taken in the wrong direction not simple inaction. There is no argument that the President has lacked opportunity he has simply not delivered.


O-le,O-le, O-le, O-le! O-le, O-le!

  © Blogger template Sunset by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP