“During his election campaign in 2008, Barack Obama promised to close the prison at Guantánamo, repeal the Patriot Act of 2001 that authorised new domestic surveillance, and protect military and intelligence whistleblowers against government reprisals. It was a pledge to rein in much of the security state apparatus that had been expanded after 11 September 2001 into an enormous, often unaccountable, bureaucracy.
But four years later, Guantánamo is still open, its military tribunals have resumed and Obama has approved the renewal of the Patriot Act. His Department of Justice has launched six Espionage Act prosecutions of security whistleblowers — twice as many as all previous administrations combined. Also the no-fly list of individuals prohibited from air travel — a designation that is often arbitrary and always opaque — has more than doubled since last year, to 21,000. In 2011, the president signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which gives the federal government the power to imprison indefinitely US citizens accused of terrorism, a major erosion of habeas corpus rights. The administration has authorised the assassination of an unknown number of US citizens abroad who are not directly engaged in armed hostilities but who have been designated as “terrorists”, with minimal legal process. Last September, American drones in Yemen hunted and killed radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and Al-Qaida propagandist Samir Khan; two weeks later, a separate American drone strike killed Awlaki’s 16-year old son: all were US citizens. Obama has also radically expanded the ostensibly “secret” killing of non-US citizens by drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia; as many as a third of the victims are non-combatant civilians, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
The answer, of course, is that the Left was never serious about the Constitution or civil rights–and certainly never concerned about the murder of innocents as its commitment to abortion demonstrates. Meanwhile, the Thing that Used to be Conservatism’s morph into the Rubber Hose Right with a fetish for lawless brutality in the service of American Greatness has resulted in a party that has screaming conniptions over things like the economy, but is quietly and consistently approving of Obama’s acquisition of power to indefinitely detain and secretly murder–because someday a Republican will be wielding that way cool lawless executive power. So for all the screaming about Obama the Socialist Communist Atheist Muslim Dictator, the Mainstream right is strangely silent about that aspect of his administration that is actually most dangerously dictatorial, ruthless and deadly.
That’s because it’s not Left vs. Right, but our Ruling Class vs. the rest of us.