Three Ways Obama Carried Bush’s Tyrannical Torch, in Just One Week

John Glaser, January 03, 2013

If one were looking for a way to demonstrate how faithfully the Obama administration had carried on the legacy of the Bush administration, this past week takes the cake, and no, I’m not talking about making Bush tax cuts on the middle class permanent.

In a matter of four days, President Obama ushered in three landmark decisions that further institutionalized the Bush administration’s penchant for abridging civil liberties in the name of national security, all the while making us less safe.

1. Warrantless wiretapping of American citizens: On Sunday, Obama signed into law a renewal of the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which authorizes broad, warrantless surveillance of Americans’ international communications, checked only by a secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that doesn’t make it’s activities and procedures available to the public.

Obama voted for the FISA Amendments Act as a senator, but with expressed reservations about “President Bush’s abuse of executive power,” and the constitutional protections that the warrantless surveillance program offended. As President, though, Obama has turned into a staunch supporter of these legally questionable abuses of executive power.

Justice Department documents released in September in litigation brought by the ACLU showed “that federal law enforcement agencies are increasingly monitoring Americans’ electronic communications, and doing so without warrants, sufficient oversight, or meaningful accountability.”

“Part of the problem is much of this is being done in secret and there’s very little oversight or accountability,” NSA whistleblower Nick Drake told Al Jazeera recently. “It was just stunning when I found out that the White House had entered into a secret agreement with the National Security Agency to completely bypass the FISA, and by bypassing it they turned the USA into the equivalent of a foreign nation for the purposes of dragnet, blanket electronic surveillance…in secret.”

Even though the government has acknowledged that the secretive program has exceeded its legal limits, violating Americans’ Fourth Amendment constitutional rights, the Obama administration has aggressively refused to allow any checks and balances on the program, even refusing congressional requests to disclose how many Americans have been spied on.

2. Indefinite detention without charge or trial: On Wednesday, Obama signed the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act into law. The 680-page omnibus bill contains more military and national security provisions than any one person can account for, but it notably renews the prohibition against transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the US for any purpose, a measure which again prevents Obama from fulfilling his pledge to close the black hole detention center.

Obama initially threatened a veto of the bill due to this provision, but the threat proved a false one. In a signing statement, Obama said he disagreed with the provision, despite his signing it into law.

But it’s difficult to take his stated reservations seriously. Back in 2010, the President signed an executive order that “establishe[d] indefinite detention as a long-term Obama administration policy and [made] clear that the White House alone will manage a review process for those it chooses to hold without charge or trial,” reported ProPublica at the time.

And in last year’s NDAA, there were even more controversial provisions suggesting American citizens, detained on US soil, can be locked up without charge or trial as enemy combatants. The constitutionality of those provisions, which advocates say are acceptable under the 2001 AUMF, is still being fought out in the US court of appeals.

In Afghanistan, too, the Obama era has meant mere suspects can be locked away without charge or trial in abusive detention camps, mostly in secret. The US military’s increased use of night raids led to a huge surge in detainees, very few of whom have had any evidence placed against them. The Obama administration has had them sent to Bagram to be held for indefinite detention without charge or trial, which Daphne Eviatar, an attorney for Human Rights First, has described as “worse than Guantanamo, because there are fewer rights.”

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the practice of extraordinary rendition, wherein suspects are captured and transferred to another country to be held without charge or trial, is “taking on renewed significance” under Obama.

3. Targeted killings of suspects by drone, without any pretense of due process (even if they are US citizens) remains none of the American people’s business. 

One could argue that Obama doesn’t support indefinite detention as much as Bush did, since he supports killing suspects before the issue of detention ever arises.

On Wednesday, a federal judge sided with the Obama administration in a case brought by The New York Times in which the latter was demanding that more information about the legality of the drone war be disclosed.

In terms of carrying on the legacy of the Bush administration, this one is a double-whammy. Not only did Obama expand Bush’s covert drone program exponentially, but he’s doing so by shutting out any judicial scrutiny by claiming disclosures would harm national security, a tactic called ‘state secrets privileges’ which was pioneered by the Bush administration.

US District Judge Colleen McMahon in Manhattan appeared reluctant in her ruling, noting she “can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the executive branch of our government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret.”

“The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me,” McMahon said, referring to the nightmarish wonderland in which people are sentenced to death before a verdict from a jury is in.

The Obama administration has continued its dramatic increase in the use of armed drones to target and kill mostly unnamed people, primarily in Yemen and Pakistan. When a high-profile terrorist suspect is killed, the Obama administration openly discusses the success of the drone program. But when journalists and civil liberties groups ask tough, scrutinizing questions about the legality of the program, the administration gets away with ignoring their requests for information, claiming the program is secret.

Meanwhile, a report by researchers at the Stanford and NYU schools of law found in September that the drone program is “terrorizing” the people of Pakistan and that it is having “counterproductive” effects.

In Yemen, drone attacks are dramatically increasing, bombing the country over 42 times in 2012, up from an estimated 10 incidents in 2011, and killing at least 223 people. Virtually all of the victims’ indentities remain classified, thanks to the Obama administration, and al-Qaeda recruitment continues to grow in Yemen because of disgruntled locals who resent their families and tribes being relentlessly bombed and killed by the hundreds.

The Washington Post reported last week, the Yemeni government as a policy tries to conceal when US drones kill civilians, instead automatically and systematically describing the victims as al-Qaeda militants, regardless of the truth.

“Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans,” a Yemeni villager named Mohammed told the Post. “If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”

It’s become almost trite to argue the continuities between Bush and Obama. But this week has been so detrimental to individual liberties and so favorable to never-ending, unaccountable secret war, that it’s hard to imagine we ever extricated ourselves from those dark days of post-9/11 tyranny.




  • http://TheGraphicVisigoth Don Nash

    Wow, the new blog thingy is fancy oh yeah.
    As for Dear Leader and the further erosion of American civil liberties, meet the new boss same as the old.

  • Tom Ford

    Bleak… Obama is just one more mass murder we have empowered…… He only kills IOOOs though.. It’s an improvement over his predecessor the Moron Prince of MA&TX who killed in the millions. Was America ever a land of laws..?? Or just well empowered mass murderers posing as republicans…????? Ask the Native Americans… Ask the blacks…who have improved their chances so they now too can become the destroyers of peoples and nations… like Colin Powell.. the Rices and of course the beloved donut…”O”..!! O for offal… No shortages of black stooges these days…

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  • Walter Cole

    What makes anyone think that Obama would do anything other than carrying Bush´s tyrannical torch; after all, they take their orders from the very same people.

    • liberranter

      Yep, exactly. How many times do we have to rub people's noses in this obvious fact? You'd think that, by now, the readership of this site, which consists of people of well-above-average intelligence and awareness, would realize that a fossilized turd could sit in the Oval Office chair and the same policies would carry on as usual. That this obvious fact hasn't sunken in yet (and that otherwise rational and intelligent people like Justin Raimondo would think that putting into the SecDef's office a career politician who spews a slightly off-key ideological tune would somehow make a difference) really has me concerned.

      • buttMonger

        it's racism if you speak out against him…

        • SnowDrop

          No- it is not. It's Only racist if you make a racist statement. You're running away with things here…

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  • katty wompus

    As if ANY President would give up all those shiny new powers Cheney stole.

    Congress can take then back any time they grow a spine.

    Pigs will fly out of Boner's butt first.

    Those brilliant minds calling Obama some kind of Liberal are either sadly mistaken or just paid whores

    • Eileen Kuch

      Brilliant minds?? Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich have the brilliant minds; they knew what Obama was like. They tried to warn their colleagues and others; but few, if any, really listened.

      You're right on that, Katty. Congress can take their powers back any time they grow a spine. however, pigs will fly out of Boner's rear-end first. Good post.

      • liberranter

        You're right on that, Katty. Congress can take their powers back any time they grow a spine.

        Congress will do no such thing. They are, after all, sock puppets under the control of the same entities that control the White House.

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  • Danny Li

    The system of the genocidal USA empire is what stinks to high heaven. It’s not about Obama alone–since he has been chosen as the Chief Mouthpiece for the real power of the Wall Street-Pentagon ruling elite. It’s the entire set-up of U.S. Imperial impetus to achive “Full Spectrum Dominance” over the Planet. In other words, in a cannibalistic culture, you can be the nicest guy of the group, but your innate kindness won’t put a stop to the culinary practice of that continual human sacrifice. Ditto for the American Capitalist Corporate culture–the global killings and endless aggressive wars will not end until the system is either overthrown, conquered, or collapses from its own–especially financial–“excess of Evil”!

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  • Hide Behind

    Under what parlimentry procedure could congress take anything from the executive branches war making powers
    Congress has not been a “Constitutionally Legal” institution since under bush they surrendered all war making powers unto the executive branch.
    They both partys have also so increased the illegality powers of “State Secrecy. ” by continuously adfing to those powers by at least one new facet of them every three months.
    Am old line pre Kenedy Constitutionalist gave up any hope gor equality in liberty later on, Yet feel today congress should be disbanded completely.
    They are no more necessary to todays gorm of US governments than tests on a boar hog and one that’s been neutered as well.
    They are no more than crotch level political wastrels who fatten and flatter themselve by voting upon special interest bills that do no more than divide the public into warring camps

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  • Dax

    Boner is a pig. He will fly out of his own ass in Cirque de Soliel moment.

  • http://www.gymmatsdiscount.com/ Leonore Will

    The 680-page omnibus bill contains more military and national security provisions than any one person can account for, but it notably renews the prohibition against transferring detainees from Guantanamo Bay to the US for any purpose, a measure which again prevents Obama from fulfilling his pledge to close the black hole detention center.

  • http://www.gymmatsdiscount.com/ Leonore Will

    “Our entire village is angry at the government and the Americans,” a Yemeni villager named Mohammed told the Post. “If the Americans are responsible, I would have no choice but to sympathize with al-Qaeda because al-Qaeda is fighting America.”

  • http://www.theurbanpolitico.com/ Shady_Grady

    Obama’s support for his attack on civil liberties (and to a lesser extent Bloomberg’s in NY) shows that what’s important is not that you actually refuse to violate the Constitution. No, what’s really important is when you violate the Constitution you do so with style and panache.
    Bush and Guliani could learn a lot from Obama and Bloomberg.

  • liberranter

    It’s become almost trite to argue the continuities between Bush and Obama. But this week has been so detrimental to individual liberties and so favorable to never-ending, unaccountable secret war, that it’s hard to imagine we ever extricated ourselves from those dark days of post-9/11 tyranny.

    Trite though it might be, the Amoricon majority still refuses to acknowledge the obvious continuities. I say "refuses to acknowledge" because to do so would force the majority to acknowledge that they've been fools who've swallowed nothing but pure lies for their entire adult lives. No one who has been drinking the Koolaid[TM] for that long is going to change their diet.

    • Chuckthebull

      well said..this is what i have been saying.. the "new left" as i call it have been worked over by the propaganda machine now for a generation…what most people dont connect is the corporate culture of greed and worship to the banking systems has been the hidden tool to adjust BOTH sides into subservience to corporate and government rule..its all about the money and the government today is all about the corruption and manipulation…But Routing out the DON's of this mafia should be priority ..we have to cut of the HEAD of this Hydra.

  • Dillon

    I read a book called The Dark Side by Jane Meyer that outlines how the extraordinary rendition program flourished under Bush (it also goes into detail of how the legality of "enhanced interrogation" was prepared. Obama has been frightfully disappointing in his efforts to reduce these programs, despite all that he said he would do (Guantanamo is the example that sticks out sorely in my mind. He's done good things, but he needs to do more about this, or at least come clean about what his actual intentions are.

    • katty wompus

      Please stop repeating the "Obama didn't close Gitmo" bullcrap.

      Remember the fraidy cat Congress (lots of Dems, too) passed a veto-proof law forbidding any Federal money from anywhere being used to close Gitmo. He couldn't close it even if he wanted to, which is another debate entirely.

      Remember the huge Republican panic attack that ensued when he first tried, "There will be TERRORISTS loose on our streets!!!!" "Liberal judges will set them free!!!!" "You will be KILLED IN YOUR BED". It was disgusting. All fear all the time.

      AS IF any terrorist has ever gotten out of a SuperMax. Tell that to the blind Sheik and Ramzi Yusef and Timmy McVeigh.

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