United States

May 21, 2012

Barack Obama’s remorseless assault on basic rights

Barack Obama's record of violating basic rights is far worse than George W. Bush's.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

Two moments in the past week have confirmed what has been clear for two years or more: the administration of Barack Obama is the greatest threat to personal liberties the United States has seen for decades, and possibly ever. You have to go back to the late 18th and 19th centuries — Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, Jackson’s forced removal of Native Americans and censorship and the Alien and Sedition acts under John Adams — for similarly draconian assaults on basic liberties.

On Wednesday last week, Obama issued an executive order that would seize the assets of anyone who “directly or indirectly threaten[s] the peace, security, or stability of Yemen”. This refers to the government of Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, the former vice-president who replaced long-time dictator and US ally Ali Abdullah Saleh in February. Hadi is nominally committed to a transition to democracy after a bizarre one-candidate election, but Saleh’s family and key supporters remain in control of crucial sectors of the régime like the security forces.

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17 thoughts on “Barack Obama’s remorseless assault on basic rights

  1. Michael James

    Obama’s presidency will be remembered as one of the less succcessful ones in the last century.

    Which is a remarkable shame as he was elected on the hopes of many Americans, black, white, asian and hispanic, to draw a line under past racial injustices and prove that America could elect a President irrespective of their race.

    Unfortunately the ineptness of the Obama presidency, through the financial devestation wrought, the attacks on basic civil liberties, on political accountability and on the rule of law, both at home and internationally, will taint his legacy.

    This hasn’t been helped by the willingness of some extremist sections of the Obama support camp to label anyone with an objection to some aspect of the Obama presidency a racist, regardless of the merits of their argument.

    It’s like some 21st century version of Godwin’s Law, but all it does is cheapen the debate and make it less rather than more likely, that America will elect another minority President in the next few elections.

    Perhaps the greatest failure of Obama, the one that will be his legacy, is that he made the world less safe that it was under Bush.

  2. Some Dude

    You said ramping up in one paragraph, and in the following paragraph you said ramped up. Rookie mistake Bernard.

  3. Robert Barwick

    Obama has been the biggest con of all time, starting with bailing out Wall Street, continuing Gitmo, and spinning as “universal” a health reform that amouns to health care rationing and forcing Americans to buy private health insurance from vicious HMOs.

  4. Kevin Herbert

    The most prominent, long-term critic of the rapid loss of personal liberty under ther US constutition is Congressman Ron Paul, who has bitterly opposed these draconian measures.

    Paul will have a lot to say about this issue at the GOP’s September 2102 convention.

    Robert Barwick: agree re Obama…..he’s just another MIC/neocon/AIPAC stooge…just like Bush, and every other President (save for Jimmy Carter) since JFK was murdered by “persons unknown”.

  5. cmagree

    It’s great that this state of affairs is being reported in the Australian media, but I’m always leary about making generalisations about lax progressive responses to the retrograde actions of supposedly liberal administrations, for the simple reason that those responses often don’t get reported in the MSM. (Bernard, you’re on Twitter – where’s your excuse? 🙂 )

    Naomi Wolf contends that the USA is turning into a dictatorship. She’s identified a set of actions that precede such an event – a kind of ‘how to’ guide for creating a dictatorship – and has shown how recent US actions correspond with those steps. She’s conducting an international awareness campaign about this, tweeting, blogging, giving talks across the country, and writing articles for the Guardian. She has said she fears for her own freedom from incarceration.

  6. lindsayb

    A timely reminder in an increasingly authoritarian world.
    In the USA, the Libertarian party seems to be the only party who oppose this.
    In Australia, the LibLabs seem to be hell-bent on following the same course, with only the Greens opposed.
    Perhaps Greens and Libertarians are our last hope of saving democracy.

  7. j.oneill


    You provide only a sample of horrors that Obama has inflicted upon the civil liberties landscape. I highly recommend Glenn Greenwald’s blog on Salon.com for a daily upodate on what this administratgion is up to.

    One looks in vain for a reasoned critique of US policy from our mainstream media. Unfortunately they are as supine on this issue as they are on other crimes supported or perpetrated by Obama.

    There are genuine grounds to fear for our future in Australia so much are we in lock step withe the Americans and so compliant with their phony war on terror.

  8. Modus Ponens

    Ah – how come guantanamo bay didn’t make it into that list?

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