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Obama’s Legacy
 

Obama’s Legacy

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President Obama’s speech, presenting his vision of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy,

President Obama’s speech, presenting his vision of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy,
included welcome rhetoric about the importance of constitutional principles

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    Obama’s Legacy Obama’s Legacy Document Transcript

    • Obama’s LegacyShahid Buttarfiredoglake.comMay 25, 2013President Obama’s speech, presenting his vision of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy,included welcome rhetoric about the importance of constitutional principles, including Due Process andrights to dissent. It may represent the high watermark for civil liberties since his inauguration five yearsago. It is disappointing, given his thoughtful words, that he ignored so many inconvenient truths. Fromextrajudicial assassination to free speech and freedom of the press, from the need to address root causesof terrorism to partnership with American Muslims, the president promoted important principles butpapered over reality. The reaction by Republican senators was even worse. Senator Saxby Chambliss(R-GA) foolishly suggested that “The president’s speech today will be viewed by terrorists as avictory,” and suggested doubling down on many of the same failed Bush-era policies from whichPresident Obama finally signaled long overdue independence yesterday.Due Process: GitmoThe president forcefully spoke about the need to close Guantánamo Bay, and also lifted his moratoriumon releasing Yemeni detainees whom the government has cleared for release, despite the clamor amongconservative lawmakers who prefer to indefinitely detain anyone accused of terror without trial.Yet the president’s words reflected important principles that his own administration has routinelyviolated. Col. Morris D. Davis, the former chief military prosecutor at Guantánamo who resigned hisposition to challenge torture (and serves on the BORDC advisory board), agreed that “It’s greatrhetoric. But now is the reality going to live up to the rhetoric?”
    • The president criticized restrictions on resettlingdetainees cleared for release imposed by Congressearly in his administration. But he has the authority toresettle those detainees through a separate process, ifhe were willing to certify the release of particularindividuals—which he has avoided in order to avoidthe political risk.Due Process: Drone strikesPresident Obama also pledged more congressionaloversight of drone strikes, responding to sustainedcontroversy and reiterating a promise from his State ofthe Union address in January that he has yet to fill.Noting the 2014 drawdown of US troops inAfghanistan, he also suggested the diminishing needfor force protection. That, in turn, could lead to areduction in “signature strikes,” untethered attacks inwhich the CIA essentially kills at random based onnothing more than suspicious activity and inflamesanti-US sentiment. If nothing else, the presidentexplained a preference to shift drone strikes from theunaccountable and secret CIA to the (also secret,though at least somewhat accountable) Pentagon.Most importantly, the president acknowledged for the first time in public that civilian casualties—which he predictably downplayed—run the risk of creating new enemies.On the one hand, he claimed that drone strikes are less lethal, and less prone to civilian casualties, thanconventional warfare.On the other hand, according to an independent study, only 5% ofdeaths from drone strikes were actually senior terror leaders,suggesting that what the press conveniently calls “targeted killings”are in fact essentially random. Signature strikes, in particular, revealthe rose tint in the president glasses: these are the antithesis oftargeted killings, but rather knee-jerk assassinations based on meresuspicion. The CIA often doesn’t even know who it kills, let alonewhether they are actually involved in terrorism.Perhaps most revealing were the president’s comments aboutassassinating US citizens without trial. This particular subjectsparked widespread controversy earlier this year, when SenatorRand Paul (R-KY) mounted a filibuster specifically to force theadministration to resign the authority to kill Americans at homeusing drones.Now, as then, the response is rhetorically welcome but substantivelyempty. Just as Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter to Sen. Paulmade promises that ultimately appear implausible in light of the
    • actual facts, PresidentObama’s assurances thatdrone strikes are closelytargeted belies thecompeting fact that four UScitizens have died in dronestrikes, while only one wasreportedly targeted. If theCIA has killed four timesthe number of US citizensthan it has intended, howcan we maintain thepretense that drone strikesavoid collateral casualties?At root is a surprisingwillingness to redefine DueProcess to exclude a right tojudicial review. A canard—that the executive branch can provide Due Process without judicial review—pervades the droneprogram. But that view makes a mockery of over 800 years of legal precedent establishing the need forjudges to check and balance executive detention orders. For a constitutional law professor to advanceso revolutionary claim should disturb any observer, regardless of political perspective.The First Amendment: freedom of the pressPresident Obama also reiterated his recent call for a reporter shield law to enable the press to do its jobwithout interference from prosecutors. This suggestion lends itself to criticism on the grounds of bothhypocrisy and insufficiency. A reporter shield law is important, but the president’s speech ignored bothhis own administration’s attacks on the press (which he needed no legislation to have curtailed), as wellas its vindictive, predatory, and authoritarian crackdown on government whistleblowers (like ThomasDrake, or Bradley Manning, or John Kiriakou) who have resigned their careers to inform the publicabout government abuses.The First Amendment: rights to dissent, assembly, and speechPresident Obama also recognized that the ham-fisted security measures for which he and hispredecessor are both known run the risk of “alter[ing] our country in troubling ways,” before pledginga “proud commitment to civil liberties for all who call America home.” As a seeming illustration, heallowed an extended (and quite thoughtful) interruption from the audience, noting that the opportunityfor a citizen to challenge her president reflects the vitality of liberty in America.But his rhetorical respect for dissent stands in sharp contrast with the actual actions of federal agencies.Recent investigations have documented a vicious crackdown on dissent executed by the FBI, inpartnership with police agencies around the country, to violently suppress the Occupy and peacemovements. At the same time, the IRS was discriminatorily auditing conservative groups, as well astranspartisan constitutionalist groups, including the organization I lead, the Bill of Rights DefenseCommittee.
    • Letting a heckler interrupt a speech is no substitute for respecting the public’s rights to assembly,speech, and the press. Words are welcome, but they are far from enough.Praising American Muslims while abusing usPresident Obama’s comments regarding American Muslims were also welcome, but again, ignored theharsh reality on the ground. He reiterated that the US is not at war with Islam, praised the support ofAmerican Muslims for US counterterrorism operations, and indeed, play a key role in winning thebattle for hearts & minds abroad. He even reminded listeners that terrorism in America has beeninstigated by anti-government Christians more often than by Muslims.Yet during the president’s tenure, the FBI has infiltrated mosques around the country, lied tocommunities—and courts—about it, recorded sexual encounters to enable blackmail, and bribedunsophisticated Muslims of all races into government-initiated plots in order to inflate both its owninstitutional reputation and the threat of domestic terrorism (while conspicuously ignoring real plots,like the Boston marathon bombings).Restoring First Amendment rights—for the press, dissidents, and religious minorities—will requirewide-ranging changes at the FBI that few in Washington have discussed.Real counter-terrorismPerhaps most remarkably, the president explained that “Force alone cannot make us safe,” before
    • noting the overwhelming anduntenable costs of war, and thegreater opportunity to achievelasting security by winning not justbattlefields, but also hearts &minds. Bu t the president—like hispredecessor—has long ignoredmany of those opportunities. Onthe one hand, he explained howbuilding roads, schools, andhospitals can undermine terroristrecruitment, in sharp contrast tothe torture and drone strikes thatencourage it.But giving weapons to dictators,protecting American textilemanufactures throughdiscriminatory tariffs, enablingterror networks to fund themselvesthrough the black marketopportunities created by the failedwar on drugs, and destabilizingglobal food markets byencouraging domestic agriculturaloverproduction through corporatesubsidies, all play an enormousroles in enabling terrorism. Yetnone of these subjects are even discussed in these terms in Washington.If his rhetoric matched reality, the president’s speech would have been world historical, repudiating adecade of lawlessness and restoring the best in America. And it was excellent, even if occasionallyduplicitous. The question now is whether it was anything more than words, and whether theAdministration will convert the president’s welcome rhetoric into long overdue action.That, in turn, depends in part on whether Congress grows more assertive in asserting its checks &balances on executive power. Fortunately, we can each encourage that result.The Obama Deception The Truth About Barry Soetoro AKA Barack Obama VIDEO BELOWhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eAaQNACwaLwFall of the Republic VIDEO BELOWhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VebOTc-7shUThe men behind Barack Obama part 1 VIDEO BELOWhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MouUJNG8f2kThe men behind Barack Obama part 2 VIDEO BELOWhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-KJCMWcoms
    • Why Disinformation WorksPaul Craig RobertsInfowars.comMay 25, 2013Only conspiracy kooks produce real evidenceHave you ever wondered how the government’s misinformation gains traction?What I have noticed is that whenever a stunning episode occurs, such as 9/11 or the Boston Marathonbombing, most everyone whether on the right or left goes along with the government’s explanation,because they can hook their agenda to the government’s account.The leftwing likes the official stories of Muslims creating terrorist mayhem in America, because itproves their blowback theory and satisfies them that the dispossessed and oppressed can fight backagainst imperialism.The patriotic rightwing likes the official story, because it proves America is attacked for its goodness orbecause terrorists were allowed in by immigration authorities and nurtured by welfare, or because thegovernment, which can’t do anything right, ignored plentiful warnings.Whatever the government says, no matter how problematical, the official story gets its traction from itscompatibility with existing predispositions and agendas.In such a country, truth has no relevance. Only agendas are important.A person can see this everywhere. I could write volumes illustrating how agenda-driven writers acrossthe spectrum will support the most improbable government stories despite the absence of any evidencesimply because the government’s line can be used to support their agendas.
    • For example, a conservative writer in theJune issue of Chronicles uses thegovernment’s story about the allegedBoston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar andTamerlan Tsarnaev, to argue againstimmigration, amnesty for illegals, andpolitical asylum for Muslims. He writes:“Even the most high-tech security systemsimaginable will inevitably fail as they areoverwhelmed by a flood of often hostileand dangerous immigrants.”The writer accepts all of the improbablegovernment statements as proof that thebrothers were guilty. The wounded brotherwho was unable to respond to the boatowner who discovered him and had to beput on life support somehow managed to write a confession on the inside of the boat.As soon as the authorities have the brother locked up in a hospital on life support, “unnamed officials”and “authorities who remain anonymous” are planting the story in the media that the suspect is signingwritten confessions of his guilt while on life support. No one has seen any of these written confessions.But we know that they exist, because the government and media say so.The conservative writer knows that Dzhokhar is guilty because he is Muslim and a Chechen. Therefore,it does not occur to the writer to wonder about the agenda of the unnamed sources who are busy atwork creating belief in the brothers’ guilt. This insures that no juror would dare vote for acquittal andhave to explain it to family and friends. Innocent until proven guilty in a court has been thrown out thewindow. This should disturb the conservative writer, but doesn’t.The conservative writer sees Chechenethnicity as an indication of guilt eventhough the brothers grew up in the US asnormal Americans, because Chechens are“engaged in anti-Russian jihad.” ButChechens have no reason for hostilityagainst the US. As evidence indicates,Washington supports the Chechens in theirconflict with Russia. By supportingChechen terrorism, Washington violates allof the laws that it ruthlessly applies tocompassionate Americans who givedonations to Palestinian charities thatWashington alleges are run by Hamas, aWashington-declared terrorist organization.It doesn’t occur to the conservative writerthat something is amiss when martial lawis established over one of America’s maincities and its metropolitan area, 10,000heavily armed troops are put on the streets
    • with tanks, and citizens are ordered out of their homes withtheir hands over their heads, all of this just to search forone wounded 19-year old suspect. Instead the writerblames the “surveillance state” on “the inevitableconsequences of suicidal liberalism” which has embraced“the oldest sin in the world: rebellion against authority.”The writer is so pleased to use the government’s story lineas a way of indulging the conservative’s romance withauthority and striking a blow at liberalism that he does notnotice that he has lined up against the Founding Fatherswho signed the Declaration of Independence and rebelledagainst authority.I could just as easily have used a left-wing writer toillustrate the point that improbable explanations areacceptable if they fit with predispositions and can beemployed in behalf of an agenda.Think about it. Do you not think that it is extraordinary that the only investigations we have of suchevents as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing are private investigations, such as this investigationof the backpacks: http://whowhatwhy.com/2013/05/20/official-story-has-odd-wrinkles-a-pack-of-questions-about-the-boston-bombing-backpacks/There was no investigation of 9/11. Indeed, the White House resisted any inquiry at all for one yeardespite the insistent demands from the 9/11 families. NIST did not investigate anything. NIST simplyconstructed a computer model that was consistent with the government’s story. The 9/11 Commissionsimply sat and listened to the government’s explanation and wrote it down. These are notinvestigations.The only investigations have come from a physicist who proved that WTC 7 came down at free fall andwas thus the result of controlled demolition, from a team of scientists who examined dust from theWTC towers and found nano-thermite, from high-rise architects and structural engineers with decadesof experience, and from first responders and firefighters who were in the towers and experiencedexplosions throughout the towers, even in the sub-basements.We have reached the point where evidence is no longer required. The government’s statements suffice.Only conspiracy kooks produce real evidence.In America, government statements have a unique authority. This authority comes from the white hatthat the US wore in World War II and in the subsequent Cold War. It was easy to demonize NaziGermany, Soviet Communism and Maoist China. Even today when Russian publications interview meabout the perilous state of civil liberty in the US and Washington’s endless illegal military attacksabroad, I sometimes receive reports that some Russians believe that it was an impostor who wasinterviewed, not the real Paul Craig Roberts. There are Russians who believe that it was PresidentReagan who brought freedom to Russia, and as I served in the Reagan administration these Russiansassociate me with their vision of America as a light unto the world. Some Russians actually believe thatWashington’s wars are truly wars of liberation.The same illusions reign among Chinese dissidents. Chen Guangcheng is the Chinese dissident whosought refuge in the US Embassy in China. Recently he was interviewed by the BBC World Service.Chen Guangcheng believes that the US protects human rights while China suppresses human rights. Hecomplained to the BBC that in China police can arrest citizens and detain them for as long as sixmonths without accounting for their detainment. He thought that the US and UK should publicly
    • protest this violation of due process, a human right. Apparently, Chen Guangcheng is unaware that UScitizens are subject to indefinite detention without due process and even to assassination without dueprocess.The Chinese government allowed Chen Guangcheng safe passage to leave China and live in the US.Chen Guangcheng is so dazzled by his illusions of America as a human rights beacon that it has neveroccurred to him that the oppressive, human rights-violating Chinese government gave him safepassage, but that Julian Assange, after being given political asylum by Ecuador is still confined to theEcuadoran embassy in London, because Washington will not allow its UK puppet state to permit hissafe passage to Ecuador.Perhaps Chen Guangcheng and the Chinese and Russian dissidents who are so enamored of the UScould gain some needed perspective if they were to read US soldier Terry Holdbrooks’ book about thetreatment given to the Guantanamo prisoners. Holdbrooks was there on the scene, part of the process,and this is what he told RT: “The torture and information extraction methods that we used certainlycreated a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to whether or not this was my America. Butwhen I thought about what we were doing there and how we go about doing it, it did not seem like theAmerica I signed up to defend. It did not seem like the America I grew up in. And that in itself was avery disillusioning experience.” http://rt.com/news/guantanamo-guard-islam-torture-608/In a May 17 Wall Street Journal.com article, Peggy Noonan wrote that President Obama has lost hispatina of high-mindedness. What did Obama do that brought this loss upon himself? Is it because hesits in the Oval Office approving lists of US citizens to be assassinated without due process of law? Is itbecause he detains US citizens indefinitely in violation of habeas corpus? Is it because he has kept openthe torture prison at Guantanamo? Is it because he continued the war that the neoconservatives started,despite his promise to end it, and started new wars?Is it because he attacks with drones people in their homes, medical centers, and work places incountries with which the US is not at war? Is it because his corrupt administration spies on Americancitizens without warrants and without cause?No. It is none of these reasons. In Noonan’s view these are not offenses for which presidents, evenDemocratic ones, lose their high-minded patina. Obama can no longer be trusted, because the IRShassled some conservative political activists.Noonan is a Republican, and what Obama did wrong was to use the IRS against some Republicans.Apparently, it has not occurred to Noonan that if Obama–or any president–can use the IRS againstopponents, he can use Homeland Security and the police state against them. He can use indefinitedetention against them. He can use drones against them.All of these are much more drastic measures. Why isn’t Peggy Noonan concerned?Because she thinks these measures will only be used against terrorists, just as the IRS is only supposedto be used against tax evaders.When a public and the commentators who inform it accept the collapse of the Constitution’s authorityand the demise of their civil liberties, to complain about the IRS is pointless.Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Departmentof Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously the editor of the Wall Street Journal. His latest book,“How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating.www.infowars.com