Obama Leaves Bush-Cheney Repressive Apparatus Standing

Civil libertarians cheered the election of Barack Obama, and with good reason.

Bush and Cheney had trampled all over our rights and liberties.

And as someone who taught constitutional law, Obama denounced the Presidential power grabs and pledged to address them.

But he hasn't followed through on that pledge.

This week, the Senate is holding a hearing on the reauthorization of
some expiring-and troubling--sections of the Patriot Act. The Obama
Administration wants to reauthorize them nonetheless.

One of these is Section 215, which allows the FBI to slap National
Security Letters on bookstores and libraries and thereby find out who
has been checking out or buying which book. This is a violation of our
right to privacy and to Free Speech, and Obama should know better.

Obama's Administration is also making the outrageous claim that it
can detain anyone it wants at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan, and
then deny that person all access to due process and habeas corpus.

Nor has Obama made any move to rectify the blatant denial of due
process that is embedded in the Military Commissions Act, which allows
the President to designate anyone an enemy combatant and jail you. If
you're not a U.S. citizen, he can jail you as an "alien enemy
combatant," and you may never see a judge or a lawyer for the rest of
your life.

Nor has Obama withdrawn National Security Presidential Directive 51,
which gives to the President extraordinary powers over the other
branches of government at every level in times of an emergency that he
himself declares.

These examples strongly suggest that Obama doesn't have the will to
tear down the edifice of oppression that Bush and Cheney constructed.

As a result, we remain today a much less free country than we were
eight years ago. And it looks like we'll remain that way tomorrow.

Even if Obama doesn't use these powers against us, a rightwing successor like Sarah Palin sure might.

This is one issue where libertarians and progressive need to get together on, in a hurry.

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