July 2, 2010
Under Barack Obama, the former professor of constitutional law, Americans’ civil liberties have shrunken drastically – to the point that his administration claims the right to execute its citizens without charge or due process of any recognizable kind. And citizens that leave the country cannot be sure they will be allowed back in. But where is the outrage among Democrats, when Obama out-Bushes Bush? "It seems that Democrats did not in fact feel any affront to Bush policies, only to his party affiliation."
"The administration admits to targeting "dozens" of other Americans for death."
Americans no longer have any rights which their government need respect. The onslaught against civil liberties and human rights may have begun under the Bush administration, but it has been perfected under the Obama regime with the complete and unqualified support of the congressional Democratic majority. Any outrage about the ever-tightening grip of executive authority is reserved for presidents with the letter R after their names.
There is no act taken by the Obama administration, no matter how tyrannical, which elicits reaction of any kind. There is no loss of rights inflicted upon Americans that will cause Democrats to speak up against an ever worsening situation.
The loss of rights is personified in the case of Yahya Wehelie, an American citizen, born in Virginia. A son of Somali immigrants, he was attempting to return to the United States after a prolonged stay in Yemen. When he and his younger brother Yusuf attempted to board an American airliner in Egypt and return home, they were informed that their names were on the TSA no fly list and they would not be allowed to board a plane bound for the western hemisphere without first talking to the FBI.
"He endured days of confinement which included beatings and sleep deprivation carried out by the Egyptians."
Yusuf Wehelie was at first interrogated by the FBI, then told that he had permission to return to the United States. Instead, he was arrested by Egyptian police at the Cairo airport. He then endured days of confinement which included beatings and sleep deprivation carried out by the Egyptians before he was finally permitted to return to his nation of origin and citizenship.
Two months later, Yahya Wehelie is still in Egypt. His exile is thought to have been caused by his association with a terror suspect present in Yemen during the same time. In an homage to Franz Kafka, the Department of Homeland Security will not tell Wehelie why he is unable to enter his own country. Apparently the constitutional rule requiring due process no longer applies.
Obama has expanded and strengthened all of the Bush era rules which eroded civil liberties and constitutional rights for Americans. Americans stranded abroad are not the only victims of this stepped up attack on civil liberties. President Obama claims the right to assassinate American terror suspects such as Anwar al-Awlaki. Now the administration admits to targeting "dozens" of other Americans for death. The right to kill Americans was never asserted even by George W. Bush, a man reviled by Democrats. It seems that Democrats did not in fact feel any affront to Bush policies, only to his party affiliation.
"In an homage to Franz Kafka, the Department of Homeland Security will not tell Wehelie why he is unable to enter his own country."
Obama is outdoing Bush and all of his predecessors in another regard. According to the New York Times, "In 17 months in office, President Obama has already outdone every previous president in pursuing leak prosecutions." Thomas A. Drake found that out the hard way. In 2007, the former National Security Agency employee spoke to a reporter about corruption and incompetence in the awarding of military contracts. While the inquiries directed against Drake began in the Bush administration, it is the Obama Justice Department which chose to indict Drake. If convicted he faces a possible prison sentence.
While Yahya Wehelie is stuck in Cairo and Thomas Drake faces prison, Guantanamo detainees have no hope of going anywhere anytime soon. Candidate Obama pledged to close the prison, although he never made any claim of changing the designation of "enemy combatants" which made Guantanamo possible. Now even the little bit that Obama promised has not been acted upon.
One administration official spoke anonymously, and deeply cynically, about the Guantanamo charade. "Guantánamo is a negative symbol, but it is much diminished because we are seen as trying to close it," the official said. "Closing Guantánamo is good, but fighting to close Guantánamo is O.K. Admitting you failed would be the worst."
"Guantanamo detainees have no hope of going anywhere anytime soon."
There we have the Obama philosophy in a nutshell. Pretend to be the agents of change while working behind the scenes to change nothing unless the change in question benefits Big Pharma, Big Military Contractors or Big Oil.
Obama supporters and the leadership of the Democratic Party are equally complicit in the assassination plans, loss of due process and disregarded campaign promises. There is no longer an evil Bush or Cheney to vilify. Their policies remain and have been institutionalized to a greater extent than they could have dreamed.
Ronald Reagan was said to have "Teflon." Nothing stuck to him and he remained popular with millions of voters no matter what he did. Obama has that substance in abundance, because he can take actions which his supporters once protested without ever losing their support. Hypocrisy and cynicism are now the order of the day. That is very bad news for Yahya Wehelie. He is likely to be in Egypt for a very long time indeed.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgandaReport.com.