Monday, December 19, 2011

Nadir of liberty?

On the eve of 2012, President Obama is facing a backlash from civil libertarians that is more widespread and intense than anything he's yet seen. He has previously been subject to complaints about his war on whistleblowers, the humanitarian and strategic costs of his drone war, the illegality of the war he waged in Libya, his use of the state secrets privilege, his defense of Bush-era warrantless wiretapping, and his assertion of the power to kill American citizens accused of terrorism. But news that Obama plans to sign rather than veto a bill enshrining indefinite detention into U.S. law and failing to exempt American citizens is provoking unprecedented ire.
The significance of the backlash is perhaps best understood by looking at what people and organizations who supported Obama's 2008 bid for the presidency are saying about his actions now. The head of the ACLU's legislative office insisted that Obama is poised to damage "both his legacy and American's reputation for upholding the rule of law," and noted that "the last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was during the McCarthy era." 
Kenneth Roth of Human Rights Watch says that "By signing this defense spending bill, President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law." Says the New York Times editorial board: "Mr. Obama refused to entertain any investigation of the abuses of power under his predecessor, and he has been far too willing to adopt Mr. Bush's extravagant claims of national secrets to prevent any courthouse accountability for those abuses. This week, he is poised to sign into law terrible new measures that will make indefinite detention and military trials a permanent part of American law. This is a complete political cave-in, one that reinforces the impression of a fumbling presidency."
Read the rest at The Atlantic
The Zenith of Civil Libertarian Anger at President Obama
Conor Friedersdorf
(h/t Kevin Fathi)

The indictment gets worse are it goes on.

Kevin also calls attention to
This bastardised libertarianism makes 'freedom' an instrument of oppression
at The Guardian (UK) 

For those interested in the underlying philosophy.


GLH said...

Since when did O'bama have a legacy of upholding the rule of law? I wonder what Lewis Black would say about O'bama's legacy on the rule of law would be.

Tom Hickey said...

Totally agree, GLH, about the Bush-Cheney legacy of despotism.

President Obama had the opportunity to reverse the terrible precedent of the prior administration, but instead he solidified and extended it further.

Anonymous said...

I thought "libertarian" was a banned word here?

Tom Hickey said...

@ Anonymous, I identify as a "libertarian of the left." I score way over on the libertarian side of libertarian-authoritarian, and way over to the left on the the left-right divide on the matrix of the political compass test.

Bob Roddis said...

That George Monbiot article was sure devastating.

We Rothbardian libertarians have NEVER THOUGHT about pollution as a property rights issue to be addressed by strict liablity. We have NEVER THOUGHT about the problem of what plants might be allowed or required in a neighborhood or that it could be easily handled with private deed restrictions.

Apparently, this weak stuff is all you guys have. I'm quite encouraged. It's similar to the nonsense thrown at Ron Paul about his anti-war and pro-civil liberties positions. Smart people can see right through it.