Monday, September 12, 2011

Required Reading

Here is a bit from an ACLU report on America and the need to reclaim civil liberties:
Rather than working to allay public fear, our political leaders (with few exceptions) have manipulated it, to the point where it can be difficult to determine whether their expressions of alarm are genuine or merely opportunistic. Is it possible that many members of Congress actually believe that U.S. prisons are not secure enough to hold terrorism suspects? (And is it remotely conceivable that a member of Congress believes his own warning that if Khalid Sheikh Mohamed is brought to the United States for trial, he might be released on a technicality, granted asylum, and be on a path to citizenship?) These are arguments based on cynicism, not strength or resolve.

And that cynicism is emboldened by a political discourse that rewards those who inflate the terrorist threat and marginalizes those who accurately describe it. Thus, those who proclaim that Muslim terrorists represent an unprecedented threat to our way of life; that our existing laws, courts, and institutions—even our prisons—are inadequate in the face of this threat; that we have no choice but to dispense with core principles—including even the prohibition against torturing prisoners—to defeat this ruthless enemy; that, in short, “9/11 changed everything”—are extolled as hard-nosed realists, warriors who are willing to “take the gloves off.” By contrast, those who defend the vitality and viability of our constitutional system, who insist that our existing institutions are equal to the challenges posed by transnational terrorism; who demand that we abide by core principles, including fair trials for and humane treatment of prisoners, even if that means that terrorism suspects must be released and political leaders must be prosecuted; who, in short, do not believe that the threat of terrorism requires us to abandon our core principles—are dismissed as weak and na├»ve.

...

On May 26, 2011, a majority of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to give President Obama—and all future presidents—more war authority than Congress gave to President Bush two days after the 9/11 attacks: under the House bill, a president would no longer have to show a connection to 9/11, or even any specific threat to America, before using military force anywhere in the world that a terrorism suspect may be found—including within the United States.
The House vote was a discordant spectacle because it sought to place the nation on a permanent war footing at a time when responsible policy-making called for the opposite.
This is must reading for Americans as they allow their civil liberties to be frittered away on endless "wars" against something that will never disappear "terrorism".

The actions of the US since 9/11 have been disreputable... except for the new policies of Obama in the Middle East, particularly in Libya, which have allowed these people to democratically fight for their rights against oppressive regimes.

Here is an article in Salon by Glenn Greenwald that discusses Obama's security state. He notes that the PBS program Frontline: Top Secret America discloses that Obama has continued Bush's obsession and tactics:
Here is one quote they include from Rizzo:
With a notable exception of the enhanced interrogation program, the incoming Obama administration changed virtually nothing with respect to existing CIA programs and operations. Things continued. Authorities were continued that were originally granted by President Bush beginning shortly after 9/11. Those were all picked up, reviewed and endorsed by the Obama administration.
Frontline adds that while candidate Obama "promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror" and "a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them," Rizzo explains that, in fact, Obama officials during the transition made clear to the CIA that they intended almost complete continuity. And Rizzo was joined in this assessment today by Dick Cheney, who -- as recounted by his long-time faithful stenographer, Politico's Mike Allen -- cites this continuity to (once again) claim "vindication"; said the former Vice President, “[Obama] ultimately had to adopt many of the same policies that we had been pursuing because that was the most effective way to defend the nation.”
Pathetic. Obama promised "hope" and "change you can believe in" and "transparency" in government but he has delivered the economy over to the Wall Street bankers and the endless wars over to the Pentagon and has taken draconian steps against whistle-blowers.

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