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In light of the excellent reporting by the Guardian this week and the revelations of the extent of domestic surveillance under President Obama, I thought it could be worthwhile to take a trip down memory lane and revisit the 2008 Democratic Party Platform.

The party platform--which you can read in full here-- devoted a full section to "Reclaiming our Constitution and our Liberties."

As we combat terrorism, we must not sacrifice the American values we are fighting to protect. In recent years, we've seen an Administration put forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. The Democratic Party rejects this dichotomy. We will restore our constitutional traditions, and recover our nation's founding commitment to liberty under law.

We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live.

We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. We reject the tracking of citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. We reject torture. We reject sweeping claims of "inherent" presidential power. We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years. We will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine duly enacted law. And we will ensure that law-abiding Americans of any origin, including Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, do not become the scapegoats of national security fears.

We believe that our Constitution, our courts, our institutions, and our traditions work.

In its operations overseas, while claiming to spread freedom throughout the world, the current Administration has tragically helped give rise to a new generation of potential adversaries who threaten to make America less secure. We will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools to hunt down and take out terrorists without undermining our Constitution, our freedom, and our privacy.

To build a freer and safer world, we will lead in ways that reflect the decency and aspirations of the American people. We will not ship away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, or detain without trial or charge prisoners who can and should be brought to justice for their crimes, or maintain a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of the law. We will respect the time-honored principle of habeas corpus, the seven century-old right of individuals to challenge the terms of their own detention that was recently reaffirmed by our Supreme Court. We will close the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay, the location of so many of the worst constitutional abuses in recent years. With these necessary changes, the attention of the world will be directed where it belongs: on what terrorists have done to us, not on how we treat suspects.

We recognize what leaders on the front lines of the struggle against terrorism have long known: to win this fight, we must maintain the moral high ground. When millions around the world see America living up to its highest ideals, we win friends and allies in this struggle for our safety and our lives, and our enemies lose ground.


Our Constitution is not a nuisance. It is the foundation of our democracy. It makes freedom and self-governance possible, and helps to protect our security. The Democratic Party will restore our Constitution to its proper place in our government and return our Nation to our best traditions–including our commitment to government by law.

I found the following passage most relevant to the events this week:
We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live.
The first sentence seems almost funny (in a dark way) in retrospect.

The second sentence only contains a promise to "review," not to "terminate."

The third sentence rejects "illegal" wiretapping, not of course wiretapping in general.  You can fix that, of course, by just making it all legal or interpreting the law broadly enough to make it so.


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Comment Preferences

  •  On Whistleblowing (29+ / 0-)

    What do President Obama and Vice President Biden have to say now?  From the 2008 Obama-Biden Transition Website.

    President-elect Obama’s transition website:

    Protect Whistleblowers: Often the best source of information about waste, fraud, and abuse in government is an existing government employee committed to public integrity and willing to speak out. Such acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled. We need to empower federal employees as watchdogs of wrongdoing and partners in performance. Barack Obama will strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government. Obama will ensure that federal agencies expedite the process for reviewing whistleblower claims and whistleblowers have full access to courts and due process.

    The Washington Post reported on December 11 (“Whistleblowers May Have a Friend in the Oval Office”):

    Whistleblowers in the federal government and those who work to protect them see a longtime friend in the next president.

    “Attorney Obama and Senator Obama and candidate Obama and President-elect Obama have all supported whistleblower rights,” said Adam Miles, the legislative representative for the Government Accountability Project, a public interest group that bills itself [RP note: correctly] as the nation’s leading whistleblower organization.

    Obama’s whistleblower trail starts before his days in public office….

    As a presidential candidate, he endorsed whistleblower protection legislation in the House that is stronger than the bill he voted for in the Senate…link

  •  Yeah, what happened to "CHANGE?" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shahryar, Joieau

    •  You got it. Change, that is. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      For the worse.

      Bush was a buffoon, in over his head.  Obama is smarter, slicker, knows what he's doing, and is a much better liar.

      Not your friend, either of them.

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:20:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh my goodness (0+ / 0-)

        Cheney was much worse.  Obama is in over his head, although he likes the excitement of the secrecy and all the technology, like drones.

        Shine like the humblest star.

        by ljm on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:00:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  as an individual, yes . . . (0+ / 0-)

          Cheney is a disgusting Strangelovian sort of character.  But he was his own man, projecting little more than his own wretched flaws.  Obama is the front man for something much worse . . . something that was with us before he appeared on the scene, and which will, unless crushed, endure long after.  With Cheney one merely loathed the man, one must see through Obama to the people behind him.

          Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

          by Deward Hastings on Mon Jun 10, 2013 at 01:45:52 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It was all lip service. (7+ / 0-)

    Or Naivete.  

    Either which way I hope you didn't actually think Dems could go ahead with any of that.

    One of two things happened- A: Obama believed in none of that and just knew that that's what his based liked to hear, or B: Reality has changed his opinion.  Probably a little of both.

    Personally I'm not sure you have to sacrifice liberty for security.  I don't buy into that dichotomy seeing as how Boston still happened with all of what the NSA was doing.  It can't be good to have authoritarians constantly watching us.  

    "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

    by sujigu on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:21:55 PM PDT

    •  as others have mentioned... (11+ / 0-)

      it might help our security if we stopped bombing and killing people in other countries and if we stopped "sharing" their resources.

      12 years later we could try coming home and seeing if that helps anything. That's what the President suggested he'd do. I'd say 4 1/2 years is plenty of time to wrap everything up and end this waste of money and life.

      That he hasn't done that suggests that we are there for other reasons.

    •  By sacrificing liberty (6+ / 0-)

      you'll be secure from everything--except, of course, the government you're sacrificing your liberty to. The people who tout "security" never seem to consider how to keep themselves safe from the government they're investing so much power into.

      (In some ways, the same applies to corporations too, of course.)

      "He, O men, is the wisest, who, like Socrates, knows that his wisdom is in truth worth nothing."--Socrates

      by TealTerror on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:27:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  When the Fourth Amendment is gone, (6+ / 0-)

        so is the First Amendment. And, then, so is democracy in total.

        How can you organize to petition the government for redress of your grievances if that government is monitoring every click and message?

        How can you have Free Speech if the government knows what you think, say and believe?  Isn't that oppressive and intimidating from the get-go?

        How can you have a Free Press when the government is harassing reporters and tracking their every move, threatening them with jail for reporting government actions?

        How can you have Free Religion, if the government gathers data on that, as well as everything else, and that data can be used in the future by anyone -- RW Christianists, anyone? -- who rises to power.  Tracking is literally the power to oppress and causes self-suppression.

        Once total state surveillance is allowed (and apparently it already is), then democracy ceases to exist.

        The Bill of Rights is one of the essential concepts to the preservation of democracy.

        When sections of it are outright destroyed, then we're already sliding down the slippery slope.

        "The law is meant to be my servant and not my master, still less my torturer and my murderer." -- James Baldwin. July 11, 1966.

        by YucatanMan on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:14:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  "Vote Democratic, We Aren't the Republicans" (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    George3, HCKAD, Chi, kurt, Lowgun

    as an electoral tactic and as a non-brand building brand-building strategy is fatally flawed for just this reason.

    It's entirely based on 'Trust Me'.

    If your trustworthiness is suddenly in play, it's not an asset. Let alone THE asset you can build a foundation on.

    It's effectiveness is entirely based on being able to go out there assuming that the public, including tens of millions of low-information voters, almost automatically having far more trust in the Democrats to do the right thing.

    The idiots in the GOP have created a climate of permanent faux outrage and constant over-the-top static where, thanks to the amount of crying wolf they have done since day one of the Obama administration, I doubt a real scandal could break through the noise. Maybe for the remainder of the Obama Presidency.

    But if I were running for the House or Senate, I wouldn't be really confident in "Vote D, We Aren't the R's" right now.  This would be a really good time for those who have been avoiding making an argument against Movement Conservatism, not wanting to seem partisan or ideological in the mirage of "post-partisanship" era, to start reconsidering.

    I'll bet that Democrats running on repealing the Patriot Act, or majorly re-working it, will do a lot better than Democrats running on "When we do it, it's okay, because you can trust us, not them".

    I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

    by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:30:34 PM PDT

    •  Here's something sobering: (6+ / 0-)

      "We have to look forward and not back" takes on a whole new context now.

      Maybe the people who should be in jail from the Bush era were given a pass because the incoming administration couldn't do what it wanted to do if it profoundly held the previous administration accountable, not because they wanted to move on. You can't do it even more if you put the last batch of people in charge in jail. The people in this administration are too smart, and too familiar with the system, to have been played for rubes by a bunch of careerist intelligence players and neocons already inside. If the President wanted things to be a seachange from the Bush years, they would've been.

      I voted for Obama, he certainly was a better option than either McCain or Romney, and he has done a lot of good.

      You can't be putting people in jail, and profoundly changing what is acceptable inside the national security status quo, for things that not only are things that you might want to do, but do and more, going into the job.

      I think the GOP and the Democrats are proving to be the best things that ever happened to each other.

      No matter how badly the GOP fails, there is always a reason that the Democrats end up not truly taking them down. I look at the Democratic Party and I see a lot of people who are very open to believing the hostile conventional wisdom about what it is possible to do, and what it is possible for them to do.

      I don't think it's unfair to make that point. It might hurt to hear it, but I don't think it's unfair to question if there was always going to be this Bush era carry-over, and expansion in some areas, while the campaign and the candidates were talking about restoration and transparency.

      The irony of that is the Rightwing architects of that paranoid "it's legal if the President says it's legal" war on whistleblowers worldview are the first people who will impeach this President no matter what he does.

      And the Right benefits because the end result of all of this is that people are going to end up being more cynical about government, wary of it, which hurts our cause and helps theirs.

      I am a Loco-Foco. I am from the Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party.

      by LeftHandedMan on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:42:34 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  As we can see, though (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    YucatanMan, George3, HCKAD, Chi

    by a quick glance at the rec list, more, and better, Democrats seek every possible means to justify warrantless wiretapping, electronic snooping on every American.  The same people that gave a rousing cheer to letting torturers walk in the name of "political pragmatism".  That is, the people with pull inside the party.  You just owe them your vote (you do, I know it's true because they say so), and to send money now.  

    You also need to understand how to listen to Obama.  99% of what he says is puffery, blowing smoke.  You know how his defenders always insist he included his final right-wing answer in his statement?  It's true, it's ALWAYS there.  It's the only thing worth listening to an Obama speech to hear, because it's the only course he and the Dem Party have chosen to follow.  All the rest of the verbiage is puffery and can safely be ignored, in fact MUST be ignored, if you actually want to understand administration policy.

    "You may very well think so, I could not possibly comment." ~ Francis Urquhart, pragmatic political philosopher

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 09:36:17 PM PDT

    •  he's easy to understand (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      HCKAD, Chi

      if you ignore him and look at who he works for.  They determine his economic policies, and they determine his foreign policies.  On issues about which they don't care he just "plays politics".

      Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

      by Deward Hastings on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:32:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  That hopey-changey thing didn't work out at all (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gooserock, George3, HCKAD

    I hate being played for a sucker... but I was.

    Obama: self-described Republican; backed up by right-wing policies

    by The Dead Man on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:01:19 PM PDT

  •  Other things from the platform (5+ / 0-)

    This is like an article in The Onion

    To that end, we will raise the minimum wage and index it to inflation hah!

    We will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions and fight to pass the Employee Free Choice Act. hah!

    We will build a 21st century Department of Veterans Affairs that reflects the reality of America's all volunteer military (that has year long wait lists for benefits? I don't think that's what was meant by this paragraph that now reads like snark)

    Families and individuals should have the option of keeping the coverage they have or choosing from a wide array of health insurance plans, including many private health insurance options and a public plan.

    Seems like Obama has been delivered us a big Obummer.

    •  I remember reading that the platform was nothing (0+ / 0-)

      that it was there only so that some people at the convention had something to do, which was write the thing. That it meant nothing, that it had nothing to do with Obama and he was not beholden to it.

      I read that here, of course, when it was first brought up in 2009. I suppose it's findable, but would probably take too much time. I should have bookmarked it, like I bookmarked the articles saying african-americans and young voters didn't come out in the same numbers in 2010 as they did in 2008 while liberals did. You know, because so many people here claim lefties didn't vote. So I have that one but never thought I'd need to start bookmarking the excuses I hear in this place.

  •  Lies, lies, and more lies. Our first clue was the (0+ / 0-)

    extension of warrentless wiretapping signed by Obama.

    "You are not even aware of what is possible. The extent of their capabilities is horrifying."Edward Snowdon -6.62, -6.92

    by CanyonWren on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:35:36 PM PDT

  •  Slavery imposed a far more onerous police state. (0+ / 0-)

    Mobilization in Massachusetts against the fugitive slave act and popular sovereignty eventually brought on the war. Currently there is no leadership motivated to organize such popular resistance into a new major party, as happened when former Whigs and Dems joined the Free Soilers in creating the Republican Party as an anti-slavery resistance movement. Certainly before a new major party were to form there would need to be a challenge for power in the Democratic Party by the democratic Democrats against the police state apologists. Something like this happened in the 1968 primaries, snuffed out by the national security duopoly implicit in Buckley.

  •  To me, the first clue... (4+ / 0-)

    was naming Geithner and Summers to key economy posts before he was even inaugurated in '08.  From there, the list grows long and includes many areas: wiretapping, the sell out on both Single Payer and the Public Option,  NDAA, TPP, the targeting and kill lists without judicial procedure, The Pacific Pivot, and on and on sir.  

    Perhaps he did not pursue investigations of the alleged war crimes of the Bush Administration because he did not want to limit his power.  He wanted to keep it all open and close to the chest.  

    Bradley Manning and Julian Assange are being persecuted for telling the truth. Paul Craig Roberts

    by dharmasyd on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:52:27 PM PDT

  •  It was a thin resume (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Obama was a man who spent his career campaigning for office and once there, starting a campaign for the next higher office.  I donated money for him to run for the US senate.  I was enthralled with his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004.  After that, I pretty much heard that same speech over and over again.  Once in the senate, he didn't want to stay long enough to create a record that would establish a track record that would make it possible to see how he might govern.  With Hillary, you at least had that.  She was well established, even if you didn't like everything about her.  The entire attachment to the Chicago political establishment really bothered me, as did the association with Tony Rezko and then throwing him under the bus to be silenced.  So, although I didn't personally dislike Obama, I didn't feel comfortable at all with him becoming President at a time when there was so much that needed to be cleaned up after Bush/Cheney.  What happened after the election is the major clean-up didn't occur.  We got extensions of more of the same.  Although I worked for HRC in the primary, in the general election in 2008, I wrote in a candidate.  It was the first time I voted for someone I really wanted to win, although I knew in my red state, John McCain woud carry my state.  So, here we are, living with an administration elected on hope, rather than the strength of who had the strongest qualifications to do the job.  

    Shine like the humblest star.

    by ljm on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 10:56:26 PM PDT

  •  It's rather sad (0+ / 0-)

    that the those who never have anything positive to say are going to use this issue to further grind their axes.

    Personally I wish we could have a calm rational debate on where exactly we draw the line on privacy because it is a conversation we need to have. And frankly the idea of unfettered privacy as some here seem to think we are due is probably unrealistic in this day and age.

    In the time that I have been given,
    I am what I am

    by duhban on Sun Jun 09, 2013 at 11:56:06 PM PDT

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