This is an article by journalist Christopher Hedges about a historic court case just recently which overturned an egregious and unconstitutional provision of the Defense Authorization Act with which I and anyone with a clue about the nature of abuse of power in this country have had a deep concern since it was initially enacted under President Bush. I bristled when it was originally enacted, but quite frankly I was unsurprised at the time.
What offended me was Obama’s reauthorization. Mr. Obama is a constitutional historian. He should know better. Section 1012 of the NDAA effectively suspends habeus corpus. It is as unAmerican as it is possible to get and still claim rule of law.
The kicker apparently was during the hearings when the judge, Katherine Forrest, repeatedly asked the government lawyers if they could guarantee that the plaintiffs in this case would not be arrested and detained after the trial. She asked five times and five times they refused to offer guarantees. They could not under the act, since apparently writing or speaking in a certain way can be construed as prosecutable under this law.
The fundamental right of an American to think, read, say, or write whatever he or she wants is foundational to our freedoms. It is stunning that a president as well-versed in constitutional law as Obama could possibly regard this right as optional.
Mr. Bush was an expert in nothing other than getting elected. His vice president, however, should have known better, but was apparently seized by a fit of Us vs. Them McCarthyism.
I voted for Obama to see the bone-headed practices of the Bush regime overturned, not to see practices continued because, supposedly, they only concerned assumed enemies.
I will likely vote for Mr. Obama in November, but only because I have less patience with the current GOP program. But that does not mean I think he walks on water. Indeed, there are many aspects of Mr. Obama’s administration with which I have serious reservations.
But let me be clear—I have policy issues with him. I don’t give a damn where he spends his Christmas vacation or where he went to school as a youngster. I could care less that he attended a firebreathing church (christian, btw) where the black preacher unleashed anti-white venom. Who he associated with in Chicago as an up-and-coming activist doesn’t bother me a bit—I hung out with all manner of varied intellectual bohemian as a youth and I’m fairly certain I can think for myself. Charges that Mr. Obama is a Muslim or isn’t an American citizen I find infantile nonsense. (Even if he were a Muslim, so what? This is America—one’s religion is irrelevant to one’s suitability to public office.)
None of that matters. What matters is policy. Reauthorizing this act, especially that part of it, is not policy I can support. I don’t understand why he did it and I am delighted it has been overturned.
I really do wish people would understand, especially people who all but worshiped Bush and Reagan: the president may be the most powerful person on the planet, leader of the free world and all that, but he is still just an employee. The president works for me. I judge him on the merits of the job he does, not on the mythic proportions of what I think he represents. I am proud to be an American, I don’t need to draw my pride from an elected official. It would have been nice if all those flag-addled lapel-pin patriots who backed W. had treated him for what he was—an employee. I tried to fire him once, in 2004, and some folks thought I was unpatriotic for doing so. But he wasn’t doing the job well. He wasn’t looking out for my interests. Or, for that matter, the country’s.
I feel the same about Mr. Obama and this particular bit of nastiness. I hope he chooses not to appeal this decision. He would be doing the job I elected him to do then. Not as well as I would like—it would have pleased me better to see this nonsense excised to begin with—but at least better.