Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Obama Administration and Civil Liberties

Unfortunately, the Obama administration has decided to continue the "state secrecy" program which allows the "rendition" of suspects to foreign countries for interrogation without the need for evidence. Think about how scary that sounds, if you love civil liberties.

You can be shipped overseas, tortured and detained in a foreign country's prison and never be given a reason, a court date or any evidence to prove your involvement.

One of the more shocking stories is that of Binyam Mohamed, whose story has been covered by several sources (Telegraph, NY Times, Daily Kos, Salon). The Obama administration maintains that divulging information would threaten national security, but the details of Mr. Mohamed's case, and others like him, are already well publicized and documented.

Read the Los Angeles Times and NY Times editorials on these issues.

Quote from the LA Times Editorial:
If a man credibly claims to have been snatched from his home and family and tortured by or with the acquiescence of the government, he deserves a fair and impartial reckoning in court. Besides, the government's assertions about the damage that could ensue should be viewed skeptically. The history of the privilege suggests that the government may use it not so much to protect national security as to prevent its own illegal or embarrassing misadventures from coming to light.

Quote from the NY Times Editorial:
The Obama administration failed — miserably — the first test of its commitment to ditching the extravagant legal claims used by the Bush administration to try to impose blanket secrecy on anti-terrorism policies and avoid accountability for serial abuses of the law.

The opinion piece by Glenn Greenwald, on salon.com, is also well worth reading.

I had high hopes that Obama's legal background would make him a strong supporter of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and the honored traditions of due process, of the American belief in innocence until proven guilty. It appears that Obama was only interested in marketing hope.

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