Thursday, September 29, 2011

Turley on Obama and Civil Liberties

In today's LA Times, GW law prof Jon Turley says what everyone who follows civil liberties already knows: President Obama has been dreadful on civil liberties:

However, President Obama not only retained the controversial Bush policies, he expanded on them. The earliest, and most startling, move came quickly. Soon after his election, various military and political figures reported that Obama reportedly promised Bush officials in private that no one would be investigated or prosecuted for torture. In his first year, Obama made good on that promise, announcing that no CIA employee would be prosecuted for torture. Later, his administration refused to prosecute any of the Bush officials responsible for ordering or justifying the program and embraced the "just following orders" defense for other officials, the very defense rejected by the United States at the Nuremberg trials after World War II.

Obama failed to close Guantanamo Bay as promised. He continued warrantless surveillance and military tribunals that denied defendants basic rights. He asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens he views as terrorists. His administration has fought to block dozens of public-interest lawsuits challenging privacy violations and presidential abuses.
What I find compelling about the op-ed, however, is something most of the establishment Left can't bring themselves to say publicly:
It's almost a classic case of the Stockholm syndrome, in which a hostage bonds with his captor despite the obvious threat to his existence. Even though many Democrats admit in private that they are shocked by Obama's position on civil liberties, they are incapable of opposing him. Some insist that they are simply motivated by realism: A Republican would be worse. However, realism alone cannot explain the utter absence of a push for an alternative Democratic candidate or organized opposition to Obama's policies on civil liberties in Congress during his term. It looks more like a cult of personality. Obama's policies have become secondary to his persona.
This paragraph explains perfectly why Obama should face a primary challenge--and why the Democrats would never allow one.

No one wants to recognize that their guy/party is a sham. Political people are invested in the party system and while they are first to accuse their opponents of callow opportunism and careerism, when it happens within their own ranks, that behavior is met with the same "pragmatic" political argument and the silence is, and must be taken as, tacit consent.

This country needs a Democrat to stand on principle and challenge Obama on his civil liberties record. The professional Left, who so often pride themselves on their principles, should be leading the call for a primary challenger to keep Obama honest. Unfortunately, most of them are too busy worrying about Republican primary red meat to give a damn about what their man continues to do with the power they labored and lobbied to give him.

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