Obama came in promising change, largely from the Bush Administration's policy of ignoring the Constitution's limits meant to protect civil liberties and curtail excessive executive power.

How has he actually done on these issues, on which reporting is often sparse?

Tags: bush, civil, constitution, facts, freedom, liberal, libertarian, liberties, obama, record

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Personally, I see a lot of serious blemishes to Obama's record on this already. That means it's time for a list!

Glenn Greenwald offers an excellent summary of Obama's poor record so far on transparency.

As Matt has already pointed out, he appears to be violating the First Amendment.

Obama has attempted to dispose of oversight on distribution of TARP funds.

He has attempted to undermine transparency in a manner for which he criticized the Bush Administration and which violates federal court orders.

Obama proposed an indefinite detention policy. Rachel Maddow's reaction was brilliant. On the matter of indefinite detention, Glenn Greenwald pointed out that where trials occurred, they would be show trials.

His justice department continued to argue in favor of the Bush Administration's untenable position regarding state secrets privileges. That position involved preventing a torture victim from suing for their rights. Likewise, he defended the Bush Administration's position regarding Bagram Prison.

In another policy move reminiscent of Bush, he threatened Britain so as to prevent them from revealing evidence pertaining to torture in which America was complicit.
Son of a bitch.
You know, I had been wondering when the day would come that I disagreed with Obama's policies.

It seems to me, from the brief research I was able to do with the help of your links, that it would be very difficult to come in on the coattails of such corruption and power, where laws and precedents are set at such a distorted level, and not take advantage of it. I mean, as long as he stays below the jaw-dropping level at which Bush operated, he still looks like the golden boy.
Of course, that doesn't really explain his plan for indefinite detention. Nor am I saying that I agree with/condone/am sympathetic of this. My cynical side says that as long as Obama writes notes for little girls and invites people over to the White House for a few beers, he can get away with whatever he wants on the legal end, because America won't be watching him there. We trust him, overall. I just hope he deserves that trust. About twenty minutes ago, I thought for sure that was the case. Now, who knows?
I tend to follow the blogs of civil liberties activists. We don't let down our vigilance even with presidents we like, such as Barack Obama. Now, we won't ignore that he's actually made some progress on gay rights and feminist issues, or that he's attempted to close Guantanamo Bay but been stopped by moronic Republicans and sheep-like Democrats.

The big problem emerges from the fact that liberals trust Obama, and conservatives largely agree with the sorts of horrendous policies I'm attacking in this thread. Thus, the liberals largely just support him and ignore this, while conservatives develop nonsensical attacks, as most of the rational criticisms to be made come from left wing and libertarian standpoints. And so reasonable criticism of the president is left to libertarians and those of us on the independent left, such as myself, Ed Brayton, Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky, Nat Hentoff, and Glenn Greenwald.
He gets no points from me on trying to close Guantanamo because he's not doing it with the intent of ending the abuses there but rather renaming them, getting them out of the public eye and broadening their scope.

On the gay rights thing, he seems to be waffling there as well. As we all know, he was never in favor of equal marriage rights for gays. But he did claim to support ending Don't Ask, Don't Tell in the military. There is a Democratic majority in the House, a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democrat in the White House who promised to end such discrimination. What is being done? The Obama administration has decided not only to wait on pursuing this promise, but in fact continues to pursue legal action in support of the policy and against gay members of the military challenging the policy.
Dismay Over Obama's 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Turnabout
When Barack Obama sought the presidency, he pledged to reverse the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly in the U.S. military. Yet on Monday, the Supreme Court rejected a gay Ohio soldier's challenge to the law — with the legal backing of none other than the Obama Administration. James Pietrangelo II, the former Army infantryman and lawyer whose case the high court declined to review, reserved most of his ire for President Obama instead of the court. "He's a coward, a bigot and a pathological liar," Pietrangelo said in an interview with TIME shortly after the high court declined to hear his appeal. "This is a guy who spent more time picking out his dog, Bo, and playing with him on the White House lawn than he has working for equality for gay people," he added. "If there were millions of black people as second-class citizens, or millions of Jews or Irish, he would have acted immediately" upon taking office to begin working to lift "Don't ask, don't tell." Pietrangelo fought in Iraq in 1991 as an infantryman, and returned as a JAG officer for the second Iraq War, before being booted out in 2004 for declaring he was gay as he was readying for a third combat tour. He was representing himself before the high court.

The Obama Administration, in its brief in the case last month, said a lower court acted properly in upholding the gay ban. "Applying the strong deference traditionally afforded to the Legislative and Executive Branches in the area of military affairs, the court of appeals properly upheld the statute," argued Elena Kagan, who as Solicitor General represents the Administration before the Supreme Court. The bar on gays serving openly is "rationally related to the government's legitimate interest in military discipline and cohesion," her 12-page filing added.

Why the stalling? Why the continuation of legal cases against military officers challenging the policy? Moreover, what happens in two years if Democrats lose control of one or both houses of Congress?
Agreed. Although I was aware of certain minor advances on his part, I will admit I have been very disappointed with him on this too.
Minor avoidances are one thing, and I was lukewarm on this when I thought that's all it was. But now that I'm reading that his administration continues to actively pursue these cases- thereby enshrining certain things in legal precedent- that's well over the line in my opinion.
Indeed. His justice department has legally defended invasions of privacy, excessive use of states secrets, the denial of access to DNA evidence for convicted criminals to prove their innocence, and the "Defense of Marriage Act," among other such things.
Alright, on second thought, I completely retract the "actually made some progress on gay rights" comment, because his advances have been things that should obviously been in place and which were low profile, while his policy on larger issues has effectively involved capitulating to the homophobic right (both what Kirsten pointed out and his endorsement of DOMA).
"My cynical side says that as long as Obama writes notes for little girls and invites people over to the White House for a few beers, he can get away with whatever he wants on the legal end, because America won't be watching him there."

I think this really hits the nail on the head.
That, and the question of who with power is going to call him out on it? The left loves him and the right wants these kinds of infractions on civil liberties. So that just leaves independent types like us, who don't have any political power!
It is presently unclear whether Obama was aware of this blatant violation of Posse Comitatus and the rights of anti-war protesters.

Also, I note that a Conservative British Parliamentarian is now challenging the current administration's attempts to suppress evidence on torture under threat of cutting off intelligence cooperation with Britain. Yes, a conservative. Opposing torture and cover ups is not just a left wing thing, people!
Not too long ago I acually saw a video with McCain speaking quite passionately against torture. Not only did he say that you have to treat "well" if you want to be able to expect your own troops/pepole to be treated well in case you're captured, he also said torture doesn't work. So it's definently not just a left wing thing.

Ooh, I found the video!


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