Socialism Art Nature

Good. Fight the power.


Two weeks after the Boston Marathon terror attacks, the American people are far more concerned about new government limits on civil liberties than the need for new law enforcement measures to prevent future attacks, according to a new TIME/CNN/ORC poll released Wednesday.

When given a choice, 61 percent of Americans say they are more concerned about the government enacting new anti-terrorism policies that restrict civil liberties, compared to 31 percent who say they are more concerned about the government failing to enact strong new anti-terrorism policies.

 … Concerns about government encroachment on civil liberties have grown in recent years, despite the Boston attacks. When asked if they would be willing to give up some civil liberties if that were necessary to curb terrorism, 49% of Americans said they were not willing, compared to 40% who were willing. A poll by the Los Angeles Times in 1996 after the Atlanta Olympics bombing asked the same question, and found resistance from only 23% of the country.

Right now, more than half of Guantanamo’s detainees are on hunger strike after over 11 years of indefinite detention. With dozens of detainees cleared for transfer (some for many years), is death the only way out of Guantanamo?  TAKE ACTION:

Right now, more than half of Guantanamo’s detainees are on hunger strike after over 11 years of indefinite detention. With dozens of detainees cleared for transfer (some for many years), is death the only way out of Guantanamo?



What a difference four years makes.

In 2008, Democrats were eager to draw a contrast with what they then portrayed as Republican excesses in the fight against Al Qaeda. Since then, the Obama administration has in many cases continued the national security policies of its predecessor—and the Democratic Party’s 2012 platform highlights this reversal, abandoning much of the substance and all of the bombast of the 2008 platform. Here are a few places where the differences are most glaring:

Indefinite Detention

Warrantless Surveillance/PATRIOT Act


Racial Profiling in Fighting Terrorism



To those who claim that Obama “never really supported the NDAA bill authorizing the President to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists (American or otherwise)” — despite the fact that he signed said bill into law — I would ask: Why then is his administration fighting to overturn a court’s recent ruling which bars him from being able to indefinitely detain suspected terrorists (American or otherwise)??? 


The White House has filed an appeal in hopes of reversing a federal judge’s ruling that bans the indefinite military detention of Americans because attorneys for the president say they are justified to imprison alleged terrorists without charge.

Manhattan federal court Judge Katherine Forrest ruled in May that the indefinite detention provisions signed into law late last year by US President Barack Obama failed to “pass constitutional muster” and ordered a temporary injunction to keep the military from locking up any person, American or other, over allegations of terrorist ties. On Monday, however, federal prosecutors representing President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta filed a claim with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of eliminating that ban.

The plaintiffs "cannot point to a single example of the military’s detaining anyone for engaging in conduct even remotely similar to the type of expressive activities they allege could lead to detention," Obama’s attorneys insist. With that, the White House is arguing that as long as the indefinite detention law hasn’t be enforced yet, there is no reason for a judge to invalidate it.

Reuters reports this week that the government believes they are justified to have the authorization to lock alleged belligerents up indefinitely because cases involving militants directly aligned against the good of the US government warrants such punishment.


President Barack Obama’s signing of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on December 31 shocked many people who hoped that Obama, a former constitutional law professor, would reverse the abuses routinely committed by the administration of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

But while the NDAA—with its provisions that authorize the military, on the say-so of the president, to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens—is ominous, it certainly isn’t Obama’s first assault on civil liberties. After spending his presidential campaign in 2008 criticizing the Bush administration for providing a “legal” justification for torture, Obama has refused to take action against Bush-era officials for violating international law, and he has made sure the U.S. government’s repressive apparatus remains in place, at home and in countries around the world.

Abdul Malik Mujahid is a leader of Muslim Peace Coalition, an organization formed in 2011 to challenge Islamophobia. He spoke with Eric Ruder about the anxiety that the NDAA has caused in the Muslim American community—and what people are doing to stand up for their rights.


America’s notorious gulag remains operational to this day.


ON Wednesday, America’s detention camp at Guantánamo Bay will have been open for 10 years. For seven of them, I was held there without explanation or charge. During that time my daughters grew up without me. They were toddlers when I was imprisoned, and were never allowed to visit or speak to me by phone. Most of their letters were returned as “undeliverable,” and the few that I received were so thoroughly and thoughtlessly censored that their messages of love and support were lost.

Some American politicians say that people at Guantánamo are terrorists, but I have never been a terrorist. Had I been brought before a court when I was seized, my children’s lives would not have been torn apart, and my family would not have been thrown into poverty. It was only after the United States Supreme Court ordered the government to defend its actions before a federal judge that I was finally able to clear my name and be with them again.

 … I went on a hunger strike for two years because no one would tell me why I was being imprisoned. Twice each day my captors would shove a tube up my nose, down my throat and into my stomach so they could pour food into me. It was excruciating, but I was innocent and so I kept up my protest.


(Video) The Daily Show nails Obama’s ‘reluctant’ signing of the indefinite detention military spending bill, NDAA.


THE U.S. military can indefinitely detain U.S. citizens without trial—that’s the latest of our supposedly “inalienable rights” sacrificed by the Democratic former constitutional law professor who currently inhabits in the White House.

After promising during his campaign to roll back the abuses of the Bush administration, Barack Obama has spent the last three years pushing through attacks on civil liberties that Republicans could only dream about. He is eliminating all doubts that the Democrats are as firmly committed as the GOP to strengthening the national security state at the expense of our rights.

As part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) signed into law by Obama on December 31, the military—under the authority of the president—is empowered to hold anyone “who was a part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners…without trial until the end of hostilities.”

According to legal scholar Jonathan Turley, the NDAA represents “one of the greatest rollbacks of civil liberties in the history of our country.”

 … The ACLU’s Laura Murphy pointed out that the last time Congress passed indefinite detention legislation was the Internal Security Act of 1950, passed during the McCarthy era. Then-President Harry Truman vetoed the Internal Security Act of 1950, but Congress overrode the veto.

 … Obama did attach a “signing statement” to the NDAA, proclaiming that he doesn’t want to use the massive power which he was granting to not only his own, but to successor, administrations. “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” he wrote.

But then why enshrine such heinous power into law? The answer is that Obama is only too happy to have such a weapon at his disposal.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

THE QUESTION some might be asking is how Obama—the former law professor who promised to uphold the rule of law and protect civil liberties—could have so fully embraced the policies he has?

The answer isn’t a personal failing on Obama’s part, but that he and the Democratic Party are as committed as the Republicans to expanding and upholding U.S. power around the globe as the Republicans. Part of ensuring that is strengthening of the national security state to silence and repress any perceived threats to that power—whether at home or abroad.

"Indefinite Detention" and liberal defenses of Obama’s betrayals

Wow. This is just too much. I can’t believe the political acrobatics some people are willing to go through in order to muster a defense of Obama on this (see below). If it were Bush or anyone else signing such a bill into law, these same people would be up in arms over it.

There are many things Obama could have done here — he could have used the line-item veto to completely strike the ‘indefinite detention’ section from the bill altogether. Or he could have just vetoed the whole damn thing. Since most Americans are opposed to indefinite detention, I think people would have understood why he vetoed a defense spending bill that included such provisions and would have correctly blamed those truly responsible for the subsequent lack of a defense spending bill.

(And if we are to believe senior Democratic Congressman Carl Levin, it was actually the Obama administration that requested the language around ‘indefinite detention’ be included in this spending bill — though admittedly in a different form than the final version).

In any event, even if it weren’t ‘politically expedient’ for Obama to veto this bill, it still would have been the right thing to do. I would rather have a President willing to stand up and do the right thing and potentially lose his job for pissing off his conservative corporate backers, than a President willing to stand up and do the wrong thing solely in order to keep his job at the expense of the people’s rights.

Personally speaking, I don’t like the defense spending bill even without the indefinite detention aspect because it continues to fund our vast, hulking military-industrial complex even further. I certainly don’t appreciate when liberals mount a defense of Obama’s betrayal here by pointing to the fact that it was the only way to get the defense bill passed — as if that were even a desirable thing.

Finally, I have seen certain liberal defenses of this betrayal on the basis of the fact that Obama included a ‘signing statement’ when he signed off on this law stating that his administration would not authorize the indefinite detention of American citizens. Problem: this signing statement isn’t any more legally-binding than the promises he made on the campaign trail in 2008. Nor does it do anything to prevent future administrations from using this law to authorize indefinite detentions of Americans. Moreover, the glaring omission is that his signing statement only included American citizens. Are we supposed to feel better about things because Obama will only be authorizing the indefinite-detention-without-trial of non-citizens?

Obama did not sign this bill because he had ‘no other options’. He has plenty of options. This is the same man who had already authorized an extension of the PATRIOT Act, authorized the Big Brother-esque FISA bill, reserved for himself the right to extra-judicially assassinate those suspected of terrorism — including U.S. citizens (a move that even drew the praise of former V.P. Dick Cheney), and so on.







TL;DR The President’s opponents played the electorate like a fiddle and will get away with it because people don’t seem to realize they’ve been tricked into being angry at the wrong person.

He signed it because if he didn’t, defense spending including benefits to veterans and their families would not have been authorized. The sections of NDAA that many people here seem to have a problem with are sections that were added into the document by primarily Republican legislators and which the President adamantly opposes but was powerless to stop. I’ll repeat that: the parts of this bill that many people here hate were included against the President’s wishes and in a way that he is powerless to stop. The only way he could have stopped these sections from being included would have been to try to veto the bill in its entirety, a move that would have been both political suicide as well as being futile, as Congress would simply have overridden him. He is explicit in his opposition to exactly the parts of the bill everyone here hates, going so far as to detail exactly which sections he opposes and why.

You’ll notice that the bill also restricts his ability to close Guantanamo Bay; this isn’t coincidence. These sections are openly hostile to the President’s stated mandate - they are effectively a giant ‘fuck you’ to the President, as well as a nasty way of eroding the President’s support with his own base. Observe:

  1. Draft legislation that is almost guaranteed to piss of the President but more importantly piss of his base.

  2. Attach said legislation to another piece of larger, more important legislation like, say, the Defense Spending budget for the entire year so that any attempt to dislodge the offensive legislation will result in a political shitstorm, as well as place the larger legislation in jeopardy.

  3. Once attached, begin a PR campaign that highlights the offending legislation and brings it to the attention of as many media outlets as possible - not just the traditional media, but alternative media outlets as well (Fox news, MSNBC, Media Matters, Huff-Po, Infowars, etc.)

  4. Here’s where it gets tricky: Simultaneously, speak to both your party’s base and the opposition’s. To your base, argue that the legislation is necessary to ‘Keep America safe’ and that the President, by opposing it, is clearly soft of terrorism and endangering the military by trying to strip the legislation out. At the same time, sit back and watch your opponent’s liberal supporters tear into the offending legislation as being dangerous, anti-democratic, and a threat to civil liberties. You know they will; that’s what they care about most. You’ve designed legislation that will make them froth at the mouth. You don’t even have to keep flogging the message; one look at the legislation will be enough to convince most people that it is anathema to everything they hold dear. Because it is.

  5. Pass the ‘parent’ legislation. Doing so forces the President to sign it or attempt to veto it. Since the legislation in question just so happens to be the military’s operating budget, a veto is out of the question. The President must sign the bill, you get the legislation you wanted, but you also practically guarantee that your opponent’s base will be furious at him for passing a bill they see as evil. Even if he tries to explain in detail why he had to sign it and what he hates about it, it won’t matter; ignorance of the American political process, coupled with an almost militant indifference to subtle explanations will almost ensure that most people will only remember that the President passed a bill they hate.

  6. Profit. you get the legislation you want, while the President has to contend with a furious base that feels he betrayed them - even though he agrees with their position but simply lacked the legislative tools to stop this from happening. It’s a classic piece of misdirection that needs only two things to work: A lack of principles (or a partisan ideology that is willing to say anything - do anything - to win), and an electorate that is easy to fool.

This is pretty basic political maneuvering and the biggest problem is that it almost always works because most people either don’t know or don’t care how their political system actually functions. The President was saddled with a lose-lose situation where he either seriously harmed American defense policy (political suicide), or passed offensive legislation knowing that it would cost him political capital. To all of you here lamenting that you ever voted for this ‘corporate shill’, congratulations: you are the result the Republicans were hoping for. They get the law they want, they get the weakened Presidential candidate they want. And many of you just don’t seem to see that. You don’t have to like your country’s two-party system, but it pays to be able to understand it so that you can recognize when it’s being used like this.

EDIT: thanks to Reddit user Mauve_Cubedweller for this post

Agreed, that’s the thing with this whole bill, it’s way more complicated than what the alarmists are making it out to be. The NDAA is not a singular “indefinite detainment” bill, that single article is a huge thing that the Republicans got in to put the President’s back against the wall and ensure that he could never close Guantanamo (which is its own fuck off lose-lose situation).

It’s just one of those shitty things where you ask yourself what you would do? No answer you give is free from fucking over lots and lots of people.


BREAKING: Obama ushers in New Year by signing indefinite detention military defense bill (NDAA).

It sure puts a fine point on the theme of 2011 — revolution AND repression.


President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) today, allowing indefinite detention to be codified into law. As you know, the White House had threatened to veto an earlier version of the NDAA but reversed course shortly before Congress voted on the final bill. While President Obama issued a signing statement saying he had “serious reservations” about the provisions, the statement only applies to how his administration would use it and would not affect how the law is interpreted by subsequent administrations.

The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield.

Under the Bush administration, similar claims of worldwide detention authority were used to hold even a U.S. citizen detained on U.S. soil in military custody, and many in Congress now assert that the NDAA should be used in the same way again.  The ACLU believes that any military detention of American citizens or others within the United States is unconstitutional and illegal, including under the NDAA.  In addition, the breadth of the NDAA’s detention authority violates international law because it is not limited to people captured in the context of an actual armed conflict as required by the laws of war. 


(Video) Obamabot vs. Thinking Person: Indefinite Detention »

A thinking person approaches an Obamabot with bad news about the indefinite detention provision in the defense bill. The Obamabot tries to defend Obama and fails miserably, but hilariously.


#OccupyBoston and ACLU march against indefinite detention military bill #NDAA - 12/15/11

(Photo) Campaigned on closing Guantanamo Bay … Signs law allowing indefinite detention of American citizens

(Photo) Campaigned on closing Guantanamo Bay … Signs law allowing indefinite detention of American citizens


President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.” - The American Civil Liberties Union


In one of the least surprising developments imaginable, President Obama – after spending months threatening to veto the Levin/McCain detention bill – yesterday announced that he would instead sign it into law (this is the same individual, of course, who unequivocally vowed when seeking the Democratic nomination to support a filibuster of “any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecom[s],” only to turn around – once he had the nomination secure — and not only vote against such a filibuster, but to vote in favor of the underlying bill itself, so this is perfectly consistent with his past conduct). As a result, the final version of the Levin/McCain bill will be enshrined as law this week as part of the the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). I wrote about the primary provisions and implications of this bill last week, and won’t repeat those points here.

The ACLU said last night that the bill contains “harmful provisions that some legislators have said could authorize the U.S. military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians, including American citizens, anywhere in the world” and added: “if President Obama signs this bill, it will damage his legacy.” Human Rights Watch said that Obama’s decision “does enormous damage to the rule of law both in the US and abroad” and that “President Obama will go down in history as the president who enshrined indefinite detention without trial in US law.”

Both groups pointed out that this is the first time indefinite detention has been enshrined in law since the McCarthy era of the 1950s, when — as the ACLU put it — “President Truman had the courage to veto” the Internal Security Act of 1950 on the ground that it “would make a mockery of our Bill of Rights” and then watched Congress override the veto. That Act authorized the imprisonment of Communists and other “subversives” without the necessity of full trials or due process (many of the most egregious provisions of that bill were repealed by the 1971 Non-Detention Act, and are now being rejuvenated by these War on Terror policies of indefinite detention). President Obama, needless to say, is not Harry Truman. He’s not even the Candidate Obama of 2008 who repeatedly insisted that due process and security were not mutually exclusive and who condemned indefinite detention as ”black hole” injustice.


Obama does the USA PATRIOT Act one better. This is a disaster. Obama will sign in to law a bill allowing for the indefinite military detention of American citizens. The era of ‘disappearances’, as seen in Stalinist Russia or Pinochet’s Chile, are coming home to the U.S.

Lesson #1: Never trust a politician! Especially if they belong to either of America’s two longstanding electoral parties (the Democrats and Republicans) — the Parties of slavery, Jim Crow, nuclear bombs, world wars, sexism, and generally serving the interests of the rich and powerful.

This is why I didn’t vote for Obama in 2008, and why I will not vote for him in 2012.


The President will not veto the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) over provisions codifying the use of indefinite military detention on American soil.

As I reported Tuesday, the latest version of the NDAA effectively rendered the provisions “mandating” military custody of non-citizen terrorism suspects arrested on US soil optional. The revised NDAA would make it possible for someone like convicted underwear bomber Umar Abdulmutallab to go from capture to trial without ever passing through military custody.

The changes were apparently enough to get the White House to back down from its veto threat, notwithstanding FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III’s testimony Wednesday that the bill could still interfere with counterterrorism operations.

 … The administration had said that the military detention provisions of an earlier version of the NDAA were “inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”

The revised NDAA is still inconsistent with that fundamental American principle. But the administration has decided that fundamental American principles aren’t actually worth vetoing the bill over.