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."