Obama Authorizes Indefinite Detention, Continues Renditions, Pardons No One (and We’re Still Waiting for Lefties to Care)
President Barack Obama’s second inauguration will be upon us in just over a week. It seems like it was only a few years ago Obama was telling us that America was better than the policies of the previous eight years. Now it’s clear he doesn’t think those same policies are all that bad. Based on his record, in many ways Obama’s second term will be indistinguishable from George W. Bush’s fourth.
Last week, we looked at how Obama has taken full ownership of the warrantless spying policies initiated by his predecessor. This week, let’s have a look at Obama’s record on indefinite detention, rendition, presidential pardons, and more. Incidentally, if any lefty progressive folks want to start criticizing Obama for these awful policies, nothing is standing in your way.
The story so far…
It wasn’t that long ago that the American Left was willing to take to the streets to protest extreme U.S. policies carried out in the name of national security. As recently as 2007, antiwar protests still drew big crowds in Washington DC.
Half a decade later…the more things stay the same. President Obama has universally embraced the same policies those protestors once condemned, and yet there’s not much criticism from the establishment media or mainstream progressives. Oh, it’s out there if you’re willing to look for it, but by and large Obama’s supporters appear willing to overlook his considerable shortcomings.
Maybe they just don’t know. Many conservatives are rationalizing Obama’s reelection by believing he over-performed with low information voters. If that’s the case, maybe a large segment of the voting public is unaware of the degree to which Obama has embraced dangerous policies that threaten the civil liberties of all Americans. Maybe we’re being underserved by a MSM that has been in the tank for Obama since 2008, and would prefer not to discuss his wrongdoings.
With that in mind, let’s review some of Obama’s worst abuses of the public trust.
Obama Just Authorized Indefinite Detention of Americans
In his first act of 2013, Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the government to hold you as long as it wants without due process:
In a statement, the president said he did so with reservations about key provisions in the law — including a controversial component that would allow the military to indefinitely detain terror suspects, including American citizens arrested in the United States, without charge. […]
The president defended his action, writing that he signed the act, “chiefly because it authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, crucial services for service members and their families, and vital national security programs that must be renewed.”
Well, that’s just dandy. At least we know his heart’s in the right place.
Obama Has Continued the Practice of Extraordinary Rendition
Sending terrorism suspects outside of the U.S. to be interrogated was once considered such a heinous practice that Jake Gyllenhaal starred in a preachy movie about it. Think Obama put a stop to that? Think again:
The three European men with Somali roots were arrested on a murky pretext in August as they passed through the small African country of Djibouti. But the reason soon became clear when they were visited in their jail cells by a succession of American interrogators.
U.S. agents accused the men — two of them Swedes, the other a longtime resident of Britain — of supporting al-Shabab, an Islamist militia in Somalia that Washington considers a terrorist group. Two months after their arrest, the prisoners were secretly indicted by a federal grand jury in New York, then clandestinely taken into custody by the FBI and flown to the United States to face trial. […]
The men are the latest example of how the Obama administration has embraced rendition — the practice of holding and interrogating terrorism suspects in other countries without due process — despite widespread condemnation of the tactic in the years after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
I guess Hollywood will have to make a sequel.
The Obama Administration Obstructs Transparency at All Costs
Obama’s policy failures go beyond national security, of course. One of his many promises that now seem quaint was to “usher in a new era of open government” in terms of responding to Freedom of Information Act requests. Yeah, about that:
Nineteen of 20 cabinet-level agencies disobeyed the law requiring the disclosure of public information: The cost of travel by top officials. In all, just eight of the 57 federal agencies met Bloomberg’s request for those documents within the 20-day window required by the Act. […]
The Bloomberg survey was designed in part to gauge the timeliness of responses, which Attorney General Eric Holder called “an essential component of transparency” in a March 2009 memo. About half of the 57 agencies eventually disclosed the out-of-town travel expenses generated by their top official by Sept. 14, most of them well past the legal deadline.
Mind you, the White House isn’t just passive aggressively disregarding calls from transparency – it’s also actively prosecuting whistleblowers. In fact, more whistleblowers have been prosecuted under Obama than all previous presidents combined.
Obama Pardons No One
Although Obama routinely exceeds his authority in all sorts of areas, the U.S. Constitutional actually invests him with wide discretion when it comes to granting clemency. For whatever reason, the power to pardon is one that Obama has no interest in exercising:
By the end of today, President Obama will have pardoned eight turkeys during his term in office — a little more than a third of the number of humans he has pardoned. […]
NPR News cited one study comparing recent presidents on the number of pardons granted in relation to those rejected:
Ronald Reagan: 1 in 8
George H.W. Bush: 1 in 19
Bill Clinton: 1 in 16
George W. Bush: 1 in 55
Barack Obama: 1 in 290
As America’s first African-American president, Obama must be acutely aware of the racial disparities in the U.S. criminal justice system. He once said, “there does seem to be a racial component to some of the arrest, conviction, prosecution rates when it comes to [nonviolent drug] offenses, and that’s something I think we should take seriously.” Obama is in a unique position to do something about it, and yet he has granted clemency at a lower rate than Richard Nixon. That’s something I think we should take seriously.
Now that his second term is about to begin, maybe liberals will start taking Obama’s awful policies seriously. The chief political commentator for The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg, recently observed that, “now liberals don’t have to worry about hurting his chances for re-election, so they can be tougher in urging him to do what he should be doing.” Better late than never. Four years is long enough to have carried water for the most illiberal president of our lifetimes.