Obama 2012 campaign erases all previous civil liberties campaign guarantees

Marilyn sez, "The Democrats criticized Bush for suspension of civil liberties and guaranteed them in their 2008 platform. In their 2012 platform, those guarantees have all been erased." Trevor Timm from the Electronic Frontier Foundation has the whole sad story in Al Jazeera:

Listening to Obama's famous keynote address from the 2004 DNC - his springboard onto the national stage - Obama sounded like an entirely different politician. Then he argued, "If there's an Arab-American family being rounded-up, without benefit of an attorney, or due process," he said, "that threatens my civil liberties."

Ironically, on the same day Obama gave his latest DNC speech this year, a federal judge in DC issued a ruling excoriating his administration's recent decision to unilaterally restrict Guantanamo detainees' access to attorneys, saying "this country is not one ruled by executive fiat".

In fact, his administration's position on due process has been the most controversial of his presidency. Last year, he signed the National Defense Authorisation Act (NDAA), which contains provision authorising the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects that could potentially be used against American citizens. Another federal judge recently blocked the implementationof that law, saying it violated both the free speech and due process clauses of the Constitution. The Obama administration has predictably appealed. In-depth coverage of the US presidential election

When it came to defending US drone strikes that have extrajudicially killed at least three American citizens in Yemen - including a 16 year old who has never even been accused of terrorism - the administration has tried to change the definition of "due process" all together. Attorney General Eric Holder put forth a unique legal theory, claiming "due process" and "judicial process" are not one in the same. Given the executive branch debated and weighed evidence against the victims of the drone strikes internally, due process was satisfied and they didn't need a court, Holder explained.

This mangling of the founding fathers' words led to widespread rebuke in legal circles, but it was satirist Stephen Colbert who most aptly summed up the absurdity of Holder's definition: "Due process and judicial process are not one and the same. The Founders weren't picky. Trial by jury, trial by fire, rock-paper-scissors - who cares? Due process just means there's a process that you do."

The DNC was a win for Obama, but a loss for civil liberties (Thanks, Marilyn!)


    1. Another piece of election-related wisdom: http://pcdn.500px.net/12151757/1393938997fb420166ae84598fca2fc0f0589cb7/4.jpg

      1. The original Nobody for President was Hugh Romney, aka Wavy Gravy.  These days he’s still working for world peace and running a camp to teach kids how to be clowns, and his group has a shop up in Mendocino called “Nobody’s Business” that sells tie-dyed hippie stuff.  Wavy’s slowing down a bit these days with back trouble, but he’s still the guy who taught us that not only can clowning be fun, but cops really don’t like getting caught hitting clowns, and really really don’t like arresting the Easter Bunny.  (Especially if he’s got a “Get Out Of Jail Free!” card.  That’s laminated, which makes it official!)

        There’s only one Romney I’d vote for, and it ain’t Mitt. 

  1. What gets me is:

    1- the folks who actually thought that Obama would deliver on any of those promises (even if he actually wanted to)
    2- the folks that backed Bush’s push to initiate such practices – saying that they trusted his administration to only use the expanded powers for good purposes, but forgetting that the next guy in power might not
    3- people who vote for democrap or republicant candidate – they’re inherently voting for a person who has decided to compromise themselves.  aligning with either of these parties means aligning with special interests (of one form or another), corporations (of some vertical markets or another), and the military/intelligence industrial complex.

    We need to quit voting in members of these corrupt parties.

    1. _I_ thought he would deliver on some of those promises — particularly these promises, which he could have fulfilled with no help from Congress. Sure it’s good to be skeptical, but I can’t usefully vote on the assumption that every candidate is 100% insincere.

      1. Again, it’s not just a matter of sincerity.  Maybe Obama really did want to change those things.  Unfortunately, he compromised himself by being part of the party.

    2. I saw an article over the weekend (and should have kept the link, sorry) about the couple who invented the modern political consulting firm. They racked up a long string of successes on one principle: if you win the argument, you don’t have to win the election, because if you win the argument, both candidates back your position, and you win the argument not by campaigning for or against any candidate, but by relentlessly and utterly demonizing the opposing argument.

    3. There’s also “Gee, if even OBAMA favors these policies, perhaps we really need them, or I’ve been misled as to how egregious they are”

      Only Nixon could go to china. 


    “Say hello to the new boss, same as the old boss!”

    Soooo many people thought Obama’s “Change” slogan meant things would change and be better, when in actuality, the “Change” that was intended was for Obama to be in charge, not some other schmuck.

    1. As a Libertarian, I wasn’t really expecting Obama to know how to fix Bush’s economic damage*, but I really had been expecting to get some Hopey Changey Stuff.  Closing Gitmo, fixing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, ending at least the Iraq war if not the Afghanistan one, leaving medical marijuana alone, restoring some of America’s commitment to Enlightenment values, taking advantage of the positive bounce in world opinion that happened when he got elected.  Should’ve known better.

      (Keynesianism really only works if you’re as smart as Keynes, or at least as smart and lucky as Bill Clinton.  If naive deficit spending actually helped anything, Bush’s massive fiscal irresponsibility would have actually been good for us rather than disastrous – at least drunken sailors are spending cash.   And health care reform hadn’t been a big part of Obama’s campaign, though I wasn’t surprised that what we got was just a restructured corporate giveaway.)

      1.  To be fair, Obama DID end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, didn’t he? It’s more than we would’ve gotten from McCain. That said, I wasn’t expecting much from Obama either, but he’s still managed to disappoint on almost every issue. The moment there’s a promising third party candidate that’s at least tolerable, they’ve got my vote. Right now neither major party even comes close to representing me.

      2.  Neither of them are interested in fixing anything. They have too much invested in leaving shit broken. If they could actually fix something, that would leave them with no false promises to make come election time.

  3. There’s enough spin and inflated alarmism in this article to remind me why I don’t give money to the EFF any longer.

    1. The EFF is hardly some isolated fringe apocalyptic group. If you think that the EFF is alarmist, you must be living in deep denial, or just not care enough to even do your own basic research into the issues being discussed.

      1. Thank you, Straw Man Jones. I know quite well what the EFF is all about, and I know quite well the ins and outs of the issues being discussed — which is why I say their language in this article is alarmist rather than objective.

        1. Uh, the EFF is an advocacy group.  They have a clearly stated political agenda.  So they’re not “objective” (whatever that even means), and it would be silly for them to pretend to be.

          Furthermore, perhaps they’re being “alarmist” because there’s cause for alarm.

          1. Yes. I know what the EFF is. Advocacy can also see both sides of an issue. That’s what “being objective” means. Informing people objectively instead of inflating the scary bits to make them SOOPER SCAAARY.

          2. There’s nothing to fear.  Have another hit of that thing and change the channel.  Don’t mind the maggots.

    2. Yeah, let’s not get too alarmed over extra-judicial killings or first-amendment rights getting trampled. Those are not important as long as you get your say without fear of a deputy sheriff showing up at midnight on your doorstep to take you on a voluntary drive or the missiles aren’t falling in your neighborhood.

      Let’s just keep sending the same people back to Washington where they’ll continue looking out for us. 

    3. Otterhead is going to vote for the Shawn Mullins party, whose entire platform is:

      “Everything’s gonna be alright: rockabye.”

    4.  Would you care to actually explain what you’re talking about or is the point just to be condescending and “superior”?

      1. I already did. And no, the point isn’t to be condescending.

        Again, in reading the article, I feel that while it has excellent points, the author’s decided to throw objectivity out of the window and fan the flames. His article verges on propaganda, and I’m not a big fan of the stuff myself. The same information could be conveyed without invoking things like DOMA out of context (and misrepresenting the Obama administration’s views on it).

        1. “I already did”  Where?  Saying that you think it’s “spin and alarmism” doesn’t actually do anything to explain which elements are spin and alarmism.

          “throw objectivity out the window”  Where does the author do this?  What are the specific factual shortcomings of the article?

          1. Sorry, but I’m not going to do a point-by-point analysis of the article for you to, in turn, use as ammunition to troll me. I expressed my opinion. I’m afraid you’re going to have to accept that I have an opinion that I can express without annotating it in intimate detail.

          2. I’ll accept that you can’t seem to defend your opinion except by throwing epithets like “troll” around.  I was trying to goad you into actually making an argument for your position — because I believe a multiplicity of views is important.  But if you’re not capable of defending your views then I’m probably overestimating their salience to the discussion.

            Edit: LOL, no, goading is not a synonym for trolling. Asking sensible questions like “what, specifically, are you talking about?” is definitely not trolling. Reflexively contradicting people without backing up your position is, though. Who’s the troll again?

          3. What exactly is the point of expressing such a vague opinion? It seems awfully intellectually dishonest to go “I think this is misleading for some reason, but refuse to back it up with any kind of evidence whatsoever.” and then call people who show any interest trolls. What did you think was going to happen?

          4. Quite honestly, this being a website of generally pretty smart and decent people, I’d hoped that people would notice that someone is expressing an opinion and not expect them to give a point-by-point analysis with footnotes of the article they’re not too fond of. And yes, when someone “goads” me repeatedly, I have to assume they’re trying to troll me. I’ve been on enough forums to notice that sort of behavior.

            I’d also add that there’s noting “vague” or “intellectually dishonest” about saying that I feel that the accompanying article is less than objective, that it uses scare tactics, and that it dishonestly uses comparisons to things like DOMA out of context. I don’t like it when articles are poorly presented like that and would prefer the EFF to be a little more prudent. How’s that?

  4. The question is, does anyone actually believe McCain would have been any better? Or that Romney would?

    I certainly don’t envy americans with their devil’s choice in politics.

    Up here at least i have the option of voting for 3rd parties that have a chance of wielding influence and forming a government.

    1.  The main difference would have been that the Democrats would have opposed the moves (as they did under Bush), even if for purely partisan reasons. The lack of civil liberties would not have been normalized as they now are in the USA.

      As Glen Ford, of the Black Agenda Report says, Obama has been the more effective evil not the lesser evil.

    2. Oh, no, the Republicans would have been far worse – most of Obama’s problems have been “acting like a Republican”, or “not knowing how to fix the Republicans’ economic damage.”  I’m in California, where the Democrats have a sufficiently solid majority that it’s safe for me to vote 3rd party, not that any of my three main choices of third party have a chance of winning anything bigger than an occasional state legislative seat.

  5. Forgive me if I bring this up too often, but: shortly before Obama’s inauguration, Bush gave an interview to Fox News, and one of the questions they asked him was if he was worried that America would be less safe after Obama took over national security. He answered no, said that Obama said a lot of things on the campaign trail because he didn’t know any better, but that “once he reads the same security briefings I’ve been reading every day, he’ll make the same decisions.” To my disgust, he’s been right. We replaced a President, when what we should have been replacing were our consistently-wrong and deeply creepy intelligence analysts.

    If I could cure Obama of one problem, it would be this: he has a very laudable tendency to rely on experts when he knows that he doesn’t know something. But when he has to decide between competing experts, rather than check their track records or other credentials, he just keeps choosing the right wing expert time and time again. As (in hindsight) we’d kind of expect of a guy from Harvard and University of Chicago Law, his political spectrum goes all the way from center-right to far-right, and he feels dangerously liberal for occasionally choosing the center-right option.

    1. I bet those securit briefings started with something along the lines of a video relating to JFK from an angle never before seen that showed the actual shooter, followed by a “Are we clear, Mr. President?”  But enough with the tin-foil hat things that could very well be true for all we know, anyone that expects anything out of politicians in this day and age is naive.  The only thing you can honestly hope for at this point in time is that whomever is voted into office doesn’t make it too much worse than what it already is.

      1. The JFK bit is a Bill Hicks “joke.”  “Joke” is in quotes because I’m pretty sure Hicks wasn’t actually joking.  (I miss that guy.)

  6. so now, are we coming full circle, with the civil libertarian chicken littles on the left now meeting up with the “he’s coming for our guns” NRA people on the right?

    1. Almost as if most of the people in the USA want freedom, we just are having trouble ranking the various freedoms in importance.

  7. And this is the reason that, while I believe re-electing Obama is the best choice for our nation, I can’t actually vote for him again.

    Still not sure which quixotic nutjob I’ll be voting for this year. (As if it matters.)

    1. Do what the Tea Partiers did to control their party: vote for the farthest-left alternative party you can find. It’s the only way to send the message as to WHY you didn’t vote for him. Winged monkeys will fly out of my hindquarters before she gets elected, and that may even be a good thing, but that’s why I’m probably voting for Jill Stein in November.

      1. But they’re not my party. I’m no more a D than I am an R. But perhaps that means I have my head in the sand?

        Stein would be my first choice, but the Greens aren’t on the ballot in NC. So I guess our state will have at least one write-in vote for Frank Zappa.

        1. Check your state’s write-in laws, then, too. (Some states, like Ohio, require that a write-in candidate register as one beforehand.) In any case, writing in an actual candidate is more productive.

    2. Might I suggest Jill Stein of the Green Party?   http://www.jillstein.org/issues

      I didn’t give the Green Party a chance at first because of their overly granola branding, but they’re actually the best match for me if I vote my views rather than compromising to vote for someone more likely to win.

      1. Please indulge yourself so that we can make gay marriage illegal in every state, roll back abortion rights and get rid of all corporate regulation. A vote for a third party candidate is a vote for Romney.

        1. Come to think of it, I have no reason not to indulge. My state is so red that a vote for Obama counts no more than a vote for Vermin Supreme. Voting tactically doesn’t make any sense for me anyway.

        2. 20 years from now, we’ll be staring off into space, talking about how the “2032 Democrats are actually further to the right than Bush, seriously, damn”.

          And they’ll still be considered the American left wing party.

        3. But, that mentality is why we can’t have third party candidates.

          We’re voting for the lesser of two evils, but BOTH OPTIONS ARE REALLY FUCKING EVIL, one’s just slightly less evil.

          Would I rather have Obama in charge than Romney? Sure, but I’d rather have neither, and tactical voting is what’s wrong with this country. And, the more people who DON’T succumb to tactical voting, the more of a chance third parties have.

          1. And your mentality is why we had Bush for 8 years. Which happens to be why we’ve gone to war in Iraq and Afghanistan. And why the economy is in the toilet. So I’ll stick with strategic voting, thanks.

          2. And Obama is Bush III, with some minor policy differences. In other words, strategically voting gets you… Bush for 8 years. (Yes, I’m counting DADT as a minor policy difference. And, given that Obamacare was the Republicans’ idea, it likely would’ve happened under McCain, meaning that that’s not a difference between McCain and Obama.)

          3. And Obama is Bush III, with some minor policy differences

            This sort of disordered perception is generally limited to heterosexual, white men. Those minor differences are quite major to the hundreds of millions of people in the US who aren’t you and aren’t anything like you and don’t enjoy your privileged life.

    1. I’m sure Congress will move us to an Austrailian ballot system just as soon as they realize that our first-past-the-poll system prevents any third parties from competing with Republicans and Democrats.

      1. Whoops. Apparently the phrase “Australian ballot system” merely refers to having secret ballots. I meant to say this, which is used in Australia:


        Seriously though, this system would end two-party domination in the United States, and maybe the culture war as well, but I have no idea how we’d ever get a majority of Democrats and Republicans to agree to implement it.

        1. Infiltrate both parties with CIA-level resources, and then once the shadow party has critical mass, come out as being part of the shadow party and start passing tons of laws to fix elections.

          Problem is, everyone with CIA-level resources wants the status quo.

          Alternately, make the moderate (usually that means fiscal) right realize that Obama is Bush III, and therefore their vote doesn’t count one bit, then a lot of them will vote for parties like the Libertarian Party. Make the far left realize that Obama is Bush III, and therefore their vote barely counts, then a lot of them will vote for parties like the Green Party.

          1. Actually, I’ve thought of a slightly better strategy.

            Start with the Libertarian and Green Parties.

            Get them together in a room, to run on a shared plank of election reform, but every other part of their platforms is their own.

            Run for both president and congressional seats.

            Then, here’s what you do:

            Libertarians: Only campaign in solidly red states, throw all resources at those states, and ignore battleground and blue states.

            Greens: Only campaign in solidly blue states, throw all resources at those states, and ignore battleground and red states.

            Effect? Neither wins the presidency, but both together get a huge chunk of the percentage of votes, and importantly, both get a decent percentage of the electoral college votes. Also, a fair amount of congressional seats are taken, so change can already start happening slowly.

            Then, use the same tactics next election cycle.

            If the percentages are growing, expand the campaign slowly to states that are less and less solidly on one side or the other.

            I’ll note that this is a multi-decade strategy, and it may run out of money, but it’s probably the cheapest shot.

  8. Could someone explain how the fact that indefinite detention of terrorist suspects without trial can potentially also happen to US citizens makes it any worse? I would have thought that if anything, the fact that it can happen to non-US citizens is more disturbing.

    1. I think the major problem is that there are sufficient US citizens who don’t find it disturbing at all that the vast majority of US voters will continue to vote for one or other of the 2 main parties no matter what their policies actually are, or how casually they piss on the values and interests and rights of those voters.

      It’s fucking Kafkaesque.

      1.  Voters vote for those that can get elected.  They are not idealists that throw away their votes by voting for someone with no chance of getting elected.  I am sure that your voting for third party candidates gives you a warm feeling, but so does pissing in your underwear. Search for the perfect is the greatest enemy of the good.

        1. The reason third-party candidates are unelectable is because of a widespread belief that third-party candidates are unelectable. Our current system is like a game of Prisoner’s Dilemma where everyone always defects. If we’re going to change it, someone will eventually have to stick their neck out.

        2. Oh dear. Firstly, you assume too much. I live in a civilized country where my vote for a third or even fourth party candidate is not wasted. Leave that aside; it is just a case of you being factually mistaken about something irrelevant to the discussion.
          Here’s my problem with your apparent position: at what point *do* you reject the candidates both major parties put forward? When one of them proposes mandatory death sentences for vagrancy “because crime” and the other wants every citizen implanted with an RFID chip “because terrorism”? If it’s not the right time to vote for the principles you value now, it NEVER will be.

          You see, idealism isn’t stupidity; it’s responsibility.  Your complacent world-weary pragmatism may give you a feeling of confidence in your position, but so would the Dunning-Kruger effect. It might make you feel secure, but so would Stockholm syndrome. 

          Voting for an unprincipled asshole because at least they might be elected and then your vote isn’t “wasted” is NOT politically smart or in fact useful in any way at all. In a sense, your vote is just background noise, wasted whichever candidate gets in. Whereas an increasing number of votes for candidates standing on a platform of civil liberties (if you can find one) would actually send a political message that might drag some of the saner members of the major parties back in the right direction before they start to lose in marginal states, where a third party can split the vote enough to matter.

          But if the only bar the candidates have to get over is “convince people you are the lesser of two evils”, it’s a race to the bottom.

          Despite a promising start towards government of the people for the people, the USA is now quite clearly Doing It Wrong.

          1. I live in a civilized country where my vote for a third or even fourth party candidate is not wasted.

            The Lib Dems have had a HUGE impact on the Tories. Towering. Epic, really.

          2. Fair point. As far as Westminster is concerned the effect is minimal.

            But the Scottish parliament is proportionally elected, and my dear hope is for that to be the only parliament I need to worry about after 2014.

            Also, I can remember what the Tories were like when they had a large majority and didn’t have to make ANY concessions to the liberals, or even the saner ones amid their own ranks.

          3. @Antinous_Moderator:disqus 

            Under Scottish law, you only need residency to vote, not citizenship. Otherwise I’d be stuffed, being technically English :)

    2.  Sure, no problem.  If it can happen to US citizens it can happen to ME.  Reagan, Clinton and Bush I confined their torture and murder to brownish people in foreign lands.

  9. A DNC official, speaking off the record, said yesterday “The fact that Romney has turned out to be an even bigger douche than anyone guessed has been a real windfall for us. It gives us total license to drop anything in the platform that’s even slightly inconvenient. I mean, what are the voters going to do? Stay home? Vote for someone else? No, they’ll be there, bright and early on election morning, making their little X’s in the box, because they know that if Romney gets elected he’ll sell what’s left of the country to the highest bidder by mid-February at the latest. They’ll hate doing it, but they’ll do it.”

    “Frankly, that civil liberties shit is not what we’re about,” said another DNC member. “It plays well with voters, though, which is why we had to have it. Luckily, Super-Douche came through with interest just when we were drawing up the platform, so we were able to finally toss all that nonsense out the window. God, I love the lack of credible alternatives in American politics.”

  10. Once upon a time, we had a free press in this country that would have been right on this.  Apparently you can’t see stuff like this when your head is up your a$$ or up Obama’s, whichever is appropriate. 

    1. The news station that has been consistently demonized by liars like Fox News, but rated as much better by people actually looking at the quality of journalism? Yes, for srs.

    2. Do you have any specific criticisms?  Al Jazeera does great journalism.  And more consistently than any other major outlet.

      1. No, they are just as bad as ABC or CBS, but they cover stuff American news will not.

        Example:  If an Israeli business received an anonymous tip-off prior to the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks, and that business’s owner happened to be Jewish (just like more than a hundred people, including a few Israelis, who got no such warning and died in the rubble) Al-Jazeera will behave exactly like USA Today or Fox, only inverted – they’ll lead a headline of “JEWS KNEW IN ADVANCE OF 9/11”.

        So, read Al-Jazeera and appreciate their different angle, but don’t think they are magic or even reliable. They are simply a bit better than most US sources, and have a different bias.

  11. Due process and judicial process are different. The problem isn’t definitional. The problem is that Obama’s due process allows for no redress of grievance which is where judicial process gets its turn. I mean, if you’re dead, why sue? Heh.

  12. Let’s see, man states opinion, man runs for president, man becomes president, man changes opinion.

    What could have possibly happened?

  13. Maybe I’m being naive, but I think that if people stopped to consider every new executive power grab, especially when it’s done by a President of their own party and they either like the move or dismiss it as no big deal, and then took the next step to think, “How will I feel when the other guys have this same power?” then we might get somewhere.

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