posted 2012-11-21 21:22:08

Change Is What We Got

Obama does away with our civil liberties    

Mike Stivers

Staff Writer

In the fall of 2008, Barack Obama swept the nation off its feet with inspiring rhetoric of “change we could believe in.” He captivated an American populace that was disillusioned and demoralized.

Since then liberal democrats have held their breath as they waited for Obama to mend the crippled social, political, and economic systems Bush ravaged. They naively hoped that a new figurehead of the corporate state would fundamentally change the political structure. They assumed he would solve problems endemic to the state such as mass foreclosures, skyrocketing levels of student debt, a privatized, and profitable health care industry, and an unregulated, seemingly criminal financial sector.

Though the Obama administration has been silent on all of these fronts, there is one sector of American society

in which it has been very active. Obama’s civil liberties “reforms,” orchestrated far from the eyes and ears of mainstream media, are nothing short of terrifying. As more citizens are exposed to the decrepit state of American society that Obama has worsened, his administration resorts further into draconian measures of repression. Any and all that oppose the Obama government are enemies. Any that dissent are criminals.

One of this administration’s first promises was to close the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, one of the United States’ offshore penal colonies used to detain and torture suspected “terrorists.” In February of 2011, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates testified before the U.S. Senate regarding Guantanamo. Phil Stewart of Reuters quotes Gates, “The prospects for closing Guantanamo as best I can tell are very, very low...” According to the Miami Herald, the naval base still holds 167 prisoners, with 46 being held indefinitely, without charge or trial.
In the interest of national security, this administration does not just limit itself to detention. On Sept., 30 2011, Obama set a horrific precedent for future administrations with the authorized assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki (living in Yemen at the time). Awlaki, a Muslim cleric, and reported member of al-Qaeda, was deeply critical of the United States. It appears this justification for the killing of Americans is derived from the Authorization for Use of Military Force Act. The Act stipulates that “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against... persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States...” The language of the act passed in 2001 is ambiguous and vague. Though never before has it been used to legitimize the killing of American citizens.

As the erosion of civil liberties continues, it provokes voices of dissent within its own borders. The state’s efforts to criminalize these voices were emboldened with the passage of the Federal Restricted Buildings and Grounds Improvement Act of 2011, or “H.R. 347.” The act makes it illegal for anyone who “knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct ...” These ‘restricted building or grounds’ include any location temporarily occupied by the Secret Service. These ‘grounds’ can include anything from a Presidential Debate to the Superbowl. Quite simply, H.R. 347 makes protest illegal. This egregious violation of First Amendment Rights affords government officials the blanket protection that any and all dissenting voices will effectively be silenced.
On Dec. 31 2011 President Obama signed into law the most appalling violation of civil liberties passed

in recent decades. The National Defense Authorization Act or “NDAA” effectively discredits some of the most fundamental rights afforded to citizens in the Constitution of the United States including the writ of habeas corpus.

Buried deep in the 565 page document is Section 1021 which affirms “the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force...” against any “associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners.” Those accused may be held in “Detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities.” The intentionally vague phrases - ‘associated forces,’ ‘coalition partners,’ and ‘the end of hostilities’ lend themselves to all encompassing definitions. Anyone who opposes government policy is an enemy. Any period of protest is a state of war.
“This is a road to tyranny,” says Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to former Secretary of State, Colin Powell. Wilkerson is of course referring to domestic tyranny, noting that NDAA applies to American citizens as well as those outside the United States. “I don’t think they are doing this based on fear of terrorists,” he admits. “I really think they are doing this based on their ultimate fear of the Occupy Wall Street [and other] movements in this country, which are going to deepen and become more profound...if we do head into a depression...which...is looking more and more like the future.” Wilkerson understands that the government is “making their military part of a force they will call out against their own people.”

As the election saturated the conscience of America, Obama told populace of all he has accomplished. He touted the piecemeal modifications he enacted and ignored the systemic rot he failed to confront. Above all, he made

no mention of the disastrous policies he signed into law. In fact he made every effort to obscure, distort, and hide the crumbling edifice of civil liberties he has worked to destroy.