Outside the BOX: Eight specific ways Obama is worse than Bush regarding civil liberties

President Obama’s January State of the Union speech was nothing more than a 45-minute window dressing to fool the public into thinking he is really going to scale back the growing police state. He is not. I never thought it would be possible to speak for so long about reform and, in the end, say so little. As an objective observer, it is clear that the abuses of the current administration go beyond the horrible expansion Bush put in place. This growing police state is an unrelenting war on the general public, one that the Church Commission warned us about back in the 1970s.

The existing “terrorist prevention model” would not have protected us from 9/11. It was the failure of our own government’s inter-agency communication, not the lack of enough data, that led to our vulnerability. Focusing on this fact, however, would undermine the need for the continuous expansion of unaccountable alphabet soup agencies instituted to “protect” the nation. This gravy train needs to be fed. Governments do not give up powers; instead, they find better ways to hide what they’re doing in order to placate the average man on the street while continuing business as usual under a different moniker.

Just recently, to the applause of all the white-collared criminals, the FBI quietly dropped law enforcement from their prime directive to now focus on “national security.” Police forces are purchasing automatic battlefield weapons and acquiring military-grade armored personnel carriers to wage war against . . . well, against whom, exactly? Does anyone remember the Cold War and what a real threat looks like? East Germany would be envious of what we “free” Americans have become.

Here is a list of the eight most egregious abuses that our current President has committed. For fun, I will cite some the typical leftist sites that raged against Bush. The difference being that in these sources they don’t call for Obama’s impeachment or resignation.

  1. The War on Whistleblowers. Let’s not kid ourselves — in order for an honest government to function, it is necessary for whistleblowers to have the ability to come forward without fear of reprisal. This administration, in all its infinite wisdom, has turned the notion of an open and transparent government into a joke — to the point that honest Americans are scared of their government. Obama feels it’s fine to misuse and twist the Espionage Act of 1917 to quell resistance and prevent the public from learning what violations our government is perpetrating. In fact, Obama is the worst President in current history for pursuing those who wish to speak up. The fact that Edward Snowden felt it was safer to flee the country before sharing his allegations is all the public needs to know about how the current administration views those who disagree with the powers-that-be. Clearly he felt it was not in his best interest (i.e., was not safe) to “follow proper channels” in order to expose the alleged abuses. Big Brother doesn’t take kindly to dissenters.
  2. Turnkey Tyranny. Obama has also made it easier for a tyrannical government to take control. Recently, at the National Press Club, I spoke with James Bamford, the world’s leading civilian expert on the NSA. In our conversation, he stated that those in power have set things up so that instituting a tyranny, if ever desired, could be achieved with minimal effort. The expanding control mechanisms, according to him, are available to squash dissent and would prevent the ability to effectively communicate and form a resistance if the leadership ever went rogue. He went on to add, “Obama is worse on civil liberty abuses than the Bush administration was, especially when looking at his war on whistleblowers.” Remember this, next time someone asks you why you need that rifle, Second Amendment fans.
  3. Assault on the First Amendment. The Associated Press scandal is both tragic and scary to those who value liberty. But the bigger tragedy is that our own President thinks it’s okay to violate the First Amendment. As “a matter of policy,” the idea of a free and open press is in question, with professional news sources being hacked and wiretapped in a dragnet fashion. It is important to note that this is only what we know of; it could be significantly worse. And how it is that every member of the press has not expressed outrage over this is just as revealing. This lack of response, a litmus test of sorts, has effectively separated the political hacks from the true objective journalists.
  4. No oversight. The whole system appears to be out of control. Our elected overseers are nothing more than three wise monkeys: they see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil. From Diane Feinstein, chairperson of  the Senate Intelligence Committee, who claims that she “has been kept in the dark,” right on up to President Obama, who plays ignorant about the programs in place — there are only two conclusions that one can draw regarding those who are “in charge” of the existing surveillance system:
    1. They are, in fact, truly “in the dark,” which means the very concept of the public having a check and balance over what our government does is all a lie; or
    2. All the major parties involved, from Obama on down, are lying to the American public and trying to cover their asses from the political fallout that would ensue due to the violations of their oaths of office (my personal pick).

    This group has been raping the Constitution for years and suddenly now opposes rape when caught. Sorry, but I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

  5. Renewal of the USA PATRIOT Act (better understood as the Suspension of the Constitution Act). The bait and switch of candidate Obama and President Obama would make you think he became a victim from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. After his first term failures at fulfilling his campaign promises regarding civil liberties, the vast majority of Obama’s supporters gave him a pass, which was their battle cry when Bush was in office. By electing this hypocrite, again, they only exposed their duplicity. “Roving wiretaps,” the “lone wolf” provision, and so on — this law is a direct assault on Amendments 1 and 4 of the Constitution. This travesty, which was passed under Bush 45 days after 9-11, was in the hopper and ready to go — just waiting for the right “crisis” to be sprung on the American people. This little maneuver was right out of Rahm Emanuel’s never-let-a-crisis-go-to-waste playbook. Passed without being read by most members of Congress, and voted on without debate, Obama chose to renew this law after saying he would not. So much for “change you can believe in.”
  6. NDAA/Kill Lists. The NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) provisions are in direct contradiction to the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution, as well as most of the rest of the Bill of Rights. Not only can the government indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen without judicial process, but Obama’s unprecedented “kill list” also provides him opportunity to serve summary execution without oversight. Why let checks and balances stand in the way? It should also be noted that Obama could have vetoed the bill and forced a rewrite, further proving his guilt and culpability. The Left’s beloved ACLU even stated:

    “For the first time in American history, we have a law authorizing the worldwide and indefinite military detention of people captured far from any battlefield. The NDAA has no temporal or geographic limitations. It is completely at odds with our values, violates the Constitution, and corrodes our Nation’s commitment to the rule of law.”

    The administration has had plenty of time to fix the controversial provisions that Obama expressed concern over when he signed it into law. The ongoing saga in the courts, filed by journalist Chris Hedges, focuses on section 1021 and shows how tightly bound the President and his minions are to retaining these powers. NDAA endangers everyone’s constitutional freedoms. As Hedges has written in reference to the ongoing court case, Hedges v. Obama, NDAA 1021:

    “As Justice [Robert] Jackson said in his dissent in the Korematsu case, involving the indiscriminate detention of Japanese-American citizens during World War II, once an unconstitutional military power is sanctioned by the courts it ‘lies about like a loaded weapon, ready for the hand of any authority’ ”

  7. Obstruction of Justice. Shortly after taking office, Obama gave immunity for those who violated the Constitution and international agreements. He assured CIA employees that they would not be investigated or prosecuted for violations (such as torture), referring to these as “mistakes.” The U.S. has signed treaties and laws against these practices, requiring us to investigate and prosecute those who are found guilty of these crimes. His solution to “move forward” without a thorough and transparent investigation undermines both U.S. credibility and stature, not to mention it is a blatant obstruction of justice. (It should be noted that Democratic leaders were well aware of the policies carried out by the Bush Administration). You can be sure that if some 18-year-old recruit got caught committing — or intentionally tried to cover up — torture, he would be looking at time in Leavenworth because of his low stature. Those higher up the food chain rarely are held responsible for their actions to the same degree as those below them, despite the fact that they should be held to an even higher standard. Under Obama it appears that torture gets a pass, but urinating on dead bodies does not. No one is above the law.
  8. FISA Court (21st Century Star Chamber or Instant Rubber Stamp). This is not an actual court, but can best be described as a group of people operating outside of the government. The Foreign Intelligence Security Act Court operates in secrecy behind closed doors. It is not subject to judicial review, there are no appeals, and there is no congressional oversight. Does this sound like any court with which you are familiar? Made up of eleven members appointed by Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, it issued 20,909 warrants from 2001 through 2012 and ONLY 10 WERE TURNED DOWN! That’s one in 2000, but don’t worry, they can be trusted. This group is above capture and bias. Obama proposed establishing a special advocate to provide an alternative voice. Five years in office, and this is what he comes up with? This isn’t a step in the right direction, as much as it is a slight of hand to try to create some semblance of jurisprudence. They did this on Wall Street with derivatives, but there they called it putting lipstick on a pig.

Now, I will acknowledge that Obama has made some progress by supposedly closing CIA Black Sites and banning torture (enhanced interrogation), but can we truly believe him? Being the biggest Pinocchio of 2013 with his “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” pledge certainly doesn’t help. Obama has a serious credibility problem, whether the left is willing to admit it or not. And it’s not because of disagreements over policy, but instead a real growing problem over actual honesty from voters.

Obama’s hard lines in the sand appear to be nothing more than actual sand, shifting with the political winds. His change of heart with views on marriage equality coincided with the change in public polling numbers, and his hypocrisy when it comes to marijuana laws appear to be just the tip of the iceberg of an underlying problem. The American public can be sure of one thing from his past behavior: Obama is mercurial. When it comes to protecting Americans Constitutional rights, this “scholar” looks more like another typical politician than a true leader of principle — but why should we be surprised?

In this day and age maybe the NSA really is the one calling the shots behind the scenes. Maybe the abuses of civil protections are merely a mirage. With the surveillance systems in place today, who knows what dirt our growing policed state has on our own president and members of our government. Extortion is not a hard concept to ponder when we realize how far we truly have fallen. Everyone is vulnerable to extortion under the current system. Perhaps not today, but you can be sure that the tools are already in place for this to be a real possibility, all thanks to Obama’s wise decisions. Try sleeping well with that thought tonight.

  • Jason Scheurer
  • Jason Scheurer is a Financial Advisor, former US Senate Candidate, Eagle Scout, radio talk show host and columnist.

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