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At a campaign event yesterday, Obama mentioned that the candidates have yet to discuss civil liberties:

We haven’t talked about what's at stake with respect to civil liberties.
The President's absolutely right - civil liberties should be added to the debate. But, I'm surprised Obama would even want to broach the subject considering how the discussion would go. Kill lists, assassination of Americans, increased surveillance, secret laws, prosecution of whistleblowers, attacks on journalists and silencing dissent. If Obama wants to discuss civil liberties, he should be held accountable for the obliteration of the First, Fourth, and Fifth amendments occurring under his watch, if not under his direction.

(1) Kill lists - the Obama administration has a secret "kill list" of people the government is trying to assassinate without charge or trial let alone conviction - usually using the drone program which the Obama administration still insists in court that it can "neither confirm or deny." The Executive branch is judge, jury, and executioner for the people who have the dubious distinction of being on the "kill list."

(2) Assassination of Americans - the Obama administration used a drone to target and assassinate American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki without a shred of due process. Attorney General Eric Holder later used Bush-era logic (think "enemy belligerents") to justify the assassination in a speech, but in court the Obama administration will "neither confirm or deny" the existence of the drone program or the legal memo authorizing al-Awlaki's assassination. (Let's not forget al-Awlaki's 16-year old innocent American son was collateral damage in a drone attack shortly after the one the that killed al-Awlaki).

(3) Expanded surveillance - just two weeks ago, an ACLU lawsuit revealed government's use of

. . . “pen register” and “trap and trace” orders, which watch only who a surveillance target communicates with rather than the content of his or her communications and therefore don’t require a warrant, were aimed at more than 80,000 Americans in 2011, a spike that means more Americans’ communications were watched by this type of communication in the last two years than in the entire previous decade . . .

(4) Secret law - Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have repeatedly warned us that the Obama administration has as secret interpretation of Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act that would "stun" Americans if they knew how the government was using the law. I tweeted out the secret interpretation: the government has access to all third-party subscriber data on a scale far outside the plain language of 215. But the administration has refused to disclose the secret interpretation or the Justice Department memo behind it.

(5) War on whistleblowers - the Obama administration has indicted more people under the Espionage Act for alleged mishandling of classified information than all past presidents combined. Worse, the Obama campaign stole my line and used it to pimp a "tough on national security" policy. The Espionage Act is a World War I-era law meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers. The failed case against National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower Thomas Drake, which collapsed in spectacular fashion days before trial, reveals the Obama administration's so-called "crackdown on leaks" to actually be a "crackdown on whistleblowers," or more specifically, on dissent.

(6) Attack on the First Amendment - the war on whistleblowers is just one example of Obama administration policies that undermine the freedoms of speech and the press. I've chronicled some of the rest here on Kos.

I'm sure plenty of comments will tell me, quoting actual comments on previous diaries, "to hold my fire" and "to shut up" until after November 6th. While I am flattered that so many commenters think my diaries could single-handedly be responsible for the election of Mitt Romney, Obama's the one who said he wanted to talk about "what's at stake for civil liberties."

Originally posted to Jesselyn Radack on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 06:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Whistleblowers Round Table.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    My book, TRAITOR: THE WHISTLEBLOWER & THE "AMERICAN TALIBAN," is Amazon's #1 Best Seller in Human Rights Books for February 2012.

    by Jesselyn Radack on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 06:47:10 AM PDT

  •  With third party candidates shut out of the (7+ / 0-)

    debates, I see very little incentive for either Romney or Obama to have any meaningful discussion about civil liberties. It's one of these areas in which both parties have reached a consensus.

    Check out this great article by GG.

    A couple of quotes from the article:

    A long list of highly debatable and profoundly significant policies will be similarly excluded due to bipartisan agreement. The list includes a rapidly growing domestic surveillance state that now monitors and records even the most innocuous activities of all Americans; job-killing free trade agreements; climate change policies; and the Obama justice department's refusal to prosecute the Wall Street criminals who precipitated the 2008 financial crisis.

    On still other vital issues, such as America's steadfastly loyal support for Israel and its belligerence towards Iran, the two candidates will do little other than compete over who is most aggressively embracing the same absolutist position. And this is all independent of the fact that even on the issues that are the subject of debate attention, such as healthcare policy and entitlement "reform", all but the most centrist positions are off limits.

    “In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded.” Terry Pratchett

    by 420 forever on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 07:08:00 AM PDT

    •  I'm sure the GOP will confirm our "steadfast" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      support for Israel in the past 6 months, with their repeated headlines and hand-wringing re: our repeated dismissals of Netanyahu's "red line" and the lack of prioritization with meeting him.

      This line is getting really old...GG needs some new material.

    •  more from that excellent article... (4+ / 0-)

      Mitt Romney's solutions to the problems in the Middle East..

      "Drones and the modern instruments of war are important tools in our fight . . . . I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran, and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region - and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination. . . . I will reaffirm our historic ties to Israel and our abiding commitment to its security - the world must never see any daylight between our two nations. I will deepen our critical cooperation with our partners in the Gulf."
      (Glenn Greenwald)
      To summarize: in light of extreme anti-American sentiment, we must drone-bomb more, kill Iranian civilians with sanctions, send more symbols of military occupation to their region, move still closer to Israel (which could only be accomplished by some sort of new surgical procedure to collectively implant us inside of them), and even more vigorously support the repressive Gulf regimes. In other words, to solve the problem of anti-American hatred in the region, we must do more and more of exactly that which - quite rationally - generates that hatred.
      Then we come to this, regarding Romney's foreign policy speech, from
      Andrew Sullivan
      , Monday:

      "[Spencer] Ackerman points out that Romney's foreign policy sounds a lot like Obama's . . . . 'the policies Romney outlines in his speech differ, at most, superficially from Obama's.'"

      Michael Cohen, the Guardian, Monday:

      "[O]ne would be hard-pressed to find a single substantive difference between what Romney is proposing as a candidate and Obama is actually doing as president."

      (emphasis mine)

      without the ants the rainforest dies

      by aliasalias on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 12:57:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  After watching Obama's amazing passivity (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    joanneleon, allenjo

    in the recent debate, I am wondering if he acted the same way with his own appointees like John Brennan, Leon Panetta, David Petraeus, Eric Holder. It may well be that Obama has no understanding of how far his administration has undermined civil liberties. If he did, how could he have made the above comment?

    Unfortunately, no president ever gives up powers that have been usurped by his predecessors and a President Romney will have plenty of precedent for doing whatever he pleases in the way of abridging civil rights.

    If my soldiers were to begin to think, not one would remain in the ranks. -Frederick the Great

    by Valatius on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 12:23:11 PM PDT

    •  But the Blackberry! He kept his Blackberry! (0+ / 0-)

      That's gotta mean he doesn't live in a well insulated bubble, right??

      That said, they're his appointees. No matter how you slice it, he's responsible for this. Not that it isn't interesting to contemplate for a moment, but you don't get any clarity on how to interact with or interpret the President's actions from the answer to that question, even if we could have certainty, which we know we can't.

      "The Democratic Party is not our friend: it is the only party we can negotiate with."

      by 2020adam on Tue Oct 09, 2012 at 05:21:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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