5 Worst Obama Assaults on Civil Liberties Besides the AP Scandal
Is anyone really surprised that Attorney General Eric Holder said that the Justice Department followed the rules in seizing two months of telephone records from 20 Associated Press journalists to investigate a CIA leak as he recused himself from a FBI investigation?
The Obama era has been one of the worst for domestic civil liberties. It has become the status quo for law enforcement at every level to spy on Americans. Los Angeles police track tens of thousands of cars daily. Seattle police read text messages without search warrants. California police look at old e-mails the same way. Internet companies say they will protect users’ privacy, but have policies that still give police what they want.
Which brings us to the Justice Department’s subpeona of the AP’s phone records for an investigation into who leaked details about a failed terror attack to the country’s largest news organization. The DOJ informed the AP on Friday that it had obtained the phone records, creating an uproar in media circles. But no one should be surprised.
“This administration is as untransparent as the Bush administration—if not more,” Dana Priest, Washington Post investigative reporter told the new released documentary, War on Whistleblowers, which traces how the Bush and Obama White Houses have declared war on a litany of national security and Pentagon leakers. “They have really tried very hard to prosecute people who they believe have leaked information.”
“It does have an intimidating effect—not just on leakers, but on the process, on us doing our job” said Michael Isikoff, NBC investigative reporter, told the filmmakers. “And I think the impact is the American public learns less and American democracy is poorer rather than richer as a result of these prosecutions.”
The Dismal Obama Years
Civil libertarians have had very few victories under Obama. In March, a federal District Court blocked the FBI from ordering telecom companies to turn over customer data and blocked FBI gag orders on this domestic spying program, although the government will appeal. And last fall, a federal court also suspended a section of a major defense bill that gave the government permission to arrest people who were suspected of speaking with alleged terrorists, which included the journalists who sued. However, another federal court reinstated that provision pending appeal.
Moreover, even Obama’s latest pledge to try to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, has been seen as disingenuous—and not because Republicans in Congress say they will block that move—but because he hasn’t issued an executive order to do it.