By Victor Thorn
Is it possible that Barack Obama’s White House is joining forces with Republican neocons in order to overturn a decision that deemed the use of indefinite military detention an unconstitutional offense? The answer, regrettably, is yes.
Teaming up with war hawk senators such as John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), on February 7, officials from Obama’s Department of Justice (DoJ) appeared in New York’s Second Circuit Court of Appeals in an attempt to nullify a 2012 decision by federal judge Katherine Forrest where she ruled that indefinite detention under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) violated the United States Constitution.
Ironically, notable leftists who originally applauded our so-called antiwar president filed this lawsuit. Among those suing the government were academics, peace protesters, authors and reporters like Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, and The New York Times‘s Christopher Hedges.
In essence, these individuals objected to the fact that under Obama’s NDAA, the U.S. military could arrest and jail them—without specific charges, trial, or an end to their detainment—simply because they spoke to or associated with someone that the government considered a terrorist.
When Forrest determined that these provisions of the NDAA violated a citizen’s First and Fifth Amendment rights, the Obama White House filed an appeal, while also seeking an immediate stay on her injunction.
In response to the Obama administration, Ellsberg stated during a February 6 interview with Amy Goodman, a liberal talk show host on Democracy Now, “I believe we have impeachable offenses by all of the people arguing this case.”
What’s most deplorable about the notion of indefinite detention is that, according to Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.), “It was his [Obama’s] administration that insisted this language be included in the [NDAA] bill.”
In response, many on the left have finally thrown down the gauntlet in terms of Obama’s foreign policy. On November 6, 2011, Taylor Tyler, a writer for the nonpartisan, Internet-based Independent Voter Network, pointed out, “Many of Obama’s policies—from the use of extraordinary rendition, targeted killings and state secrets, to indefinite detention and domestic spying—have become nearly indistinguishable from those of the Bush administration.”
Another slap in the face arose when Obama not only refused to shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center, but also suggested that the DoJ proceed with Bush-style military tribunals against detainees. Moreover, with Obama continuing his support for the use of drones to indiscriminately kill American citizens on foreign soil—essentially becoming judge, jury and executioner—those who formerly cheered the anti-waterboarding candidate are aghast by how much his actions mirror the neocons.
Even as far back as August 1, 2009, Sheldon Richman, vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation—an organization promoting libertarian causes—complained, “In Obama we have a new Jekyll and Hyde. From harsh critic of Bush’s trampling of individual rights, Obama has transmogrified into a champion of the omnipotent state.”
Similarly, on March 6, 2012, civil rights litigator Glenn Greenwald penned an article about Attorney General Eric Holder’s defense of the CIA secretly targeting U.S. citizens for execution without even charging them with a crime. Greenwald issued a stark warning: “We supposedly learned important lessons from the abuses of power of the Nixon administration, and then of the Bush administration: namely, that we don’t trust government officials to exercise power in the dark, with no judicial oversight, with no obligation to prove their accusations. Yet now we hear exactly this same mentality issuing from Obama, his officials and defenders to justify a far more extreme power than either Nixon or Bush dreamed of asserting.”
Such unbridled abuses of power come with repercussions. Anthony Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, stated that Obama’s legacy is irrevocably tarnished by such legislation. “He will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law.”
Obama Bamboozles Loyalists
Why Do So Many on the Left Still Have Their Heads Buried in the Sand?
When assessing a president’s effectiveness, one of the best gauges is to speak with those who initially placed faith in him. On February 6, AMERICAN FREE PRESS contacted two individuals that increasingly feel a great deal of disappointment in Barack Obama’s policies.
J.D. Tuccille, the online managing editor of Reason magazine, a publication that specializes in libertarian issues, told this writer, “Obama has gone back on a number of vows, such as closing Gitmo, ending the PATRIOT Act, and the use of indefinite detention. He hasn’t lived up to a lot of his verbiage.”
When asked why ardent leftists like filmmaker Michael Moore were surprised by Obama’s actions, Tuccille responded, “They shouldn’t be because Obama did the same thing during his first term. It’s accurate to say there’s policy continuity from Bush to Obama. The only difference is that Obama has a ‘D’ [for Democrat] beside his name.”
Chris Ernesto, a longtime organizer for the Florida-based antiwar group St. Pete for Peace, held even more reservations. “Nobody imagined that this president would carry forward the policies of Bush-Cheney,” Ernesto began. “But now I realize why he’s the perfect person to promote a neocon agenda. Obama has a pretty face and speaks real well. So, he’s perpetuated the myth that its okay to detain people, kill them, or target and invade countries like Libya and Mali.”
Ernesto next addressed a topic that AFP has covered at length. “The Obama administration claims that it’s acceptable to assassinate American citizens without charges or bringing them to trial. In fact, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that such practices were ‘legal, ethical and wise.’ That was a real jaw-dropper.”
Another sore point for Ernesto is the antiwar movement itself. He stated, “The left hates when we bash Obama, but they can’t admit that they got tricked. After Obama’s election, the left went to sleep. I soon realized that, other than a few passionate organizations like CODE PINK and the Answer Coalition, these people were hypocrites. They weren’t really antiwar. They were anti-Bush. Where are all the peace rallies now that Obama is doing the same thing as Bush and Cheney by assassinating people and using indefinite detention?”
Akin To His Predecessors, Is Obama’s CIA Also maintaining Black Sites?
Amid the controversy surrounding Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director David Petraeus’ November 9, 2012 resignation, the media largely ignored a riveting comment uttered by his mistress Paula Broadwell. During an October 26, 2012 speech at the University of Denver, Broadwell may have peeled back another layer of the Benghazi cover-up.
In addition to being used as a hub for running guns from Libya to Syrian rebels, did the U.S. consulate also serve as a black site to illegally hold detainees—an act in direct violation of Obama’s January 2009 Executive Order 13491?
Broadwell told her audience, “The CIA annex had actually—had taken a couple of Libyan militia members prisoner, and they think that the [September 11, 2012] attack on the consulate was an effort to try to get these prisoners back.”
As someone privy to classified information, Broadwell seemingly acknowledged her illicit lover’s knowledge of this situation. “The challenging thing for General Petraeus is that in his new position [as CIA Director], he’s not allowed to communicate with the press. So he’s known all this—they had correspondence with the CIA station chief in Libya.”
On November 12, 2012 Jennifer Griffin of FOX News not only substantiated Broadwell’s statements, she took them one step further. Griffin wrote, “According to multiple intelligence sources [that] have served in Benghazi, there were more than just Libyan militia members who were held and interrogated by CIA contractors at the CIA annex in the days prior to the attack. Other prisoners from additional countries in Africa and the Middle East were brought to this location.”
While the CIA has fervently denied these claims, on July 12, 2011, Jeremy Scahill of The Nation, an unapologetic hard-left publication, verified that the CIA maintained a secret rendition prison in the basement of Somalia’s Mogadishu Aden Adde International Airport where suspects from as far away as Kenya were snagged off the streets.
John Brennan: An Ugly Choice For CIA
Barack Obama cemented the continuity in foreign policy from his predecessors with the nomination of Bush-era spook John O. Brennan to head the CIA. As director of President George W. Bush’s National Counterterrorism Center, Brennan received regular briefings on that administration’s use of rendition and torture—including waterboarding—yet he never publicly denounced these policies.
Pushback by human rights activists was so intense during Obama’s first term in office that Brennan’s name had to be yanked from consideration to lead the CIA. Yet, such opposition hasn’t dampened Obama’s enthusiasm for Brennan, who over the past four years has been the architect of this administration’s drone strikes, in addition to playing a role in determining who gets exterminated for extrajudicial assassination under their “kill list.”
Moreover, in a recently released book, Benghazi: The Definitive Report, former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb and former Green Beret Jack Murphy claim that Brennan ran covert weapons transfer programs operating out of Libya, Africa and the Middle East.
Considering his appalling track record, when Obama introduced Brennan last month to takeover the CIA, he stated, “[The] reason I value John so much is his integrity and commitment to the values that define us as Americans.”
Astounded by this message, on January 8, journalist Conor Friedersdorf asked, “Are the American people being asked to entrust our clandestine spy agency and its killing and interrogation apparatuses to a man who was complicit in illegal torture? There is strong circumstantial evidence that the answer is yes.”
Victor Thorn is a hard-hitting researcher, journalist and author of over 40 books.