This is the third part in a series of articles on why President Obama is not the right choice for president. See here for Part I.
With the 2012 presidential election almost here, President Obama will finally find out whether or not he is keeping his job. For most voters, their choice will ultimately come down to how they expect either Romney or Obama to run things over the next four years. Throughout the campaign, Obama has repeatedly pointed out that Romney is a “flip-flopper” on a variety of key issues, and noted that Romney does not have a presidential record to give voters a clear sense of what they expect from a Romney presidency.
Unfortunately for Obama, he does have a presidential record, and a review of it leaves little doubt that Americans should fire him. Obama’s record reveals a pattern of contempt for the Constitution and existing law, the pursuit of deeply flawed economic policies, contempt for human rights and civil liberties, and a generally tired political song and dance.
Regardless of who you vote for, you shouldn’t vote for Obama. Here are seven more reasons why:
Reasons 11- 17: Obama’s Contempt for Human Rights and Civil Liberties
In President Obama’s first State of the Union address, he said,
“We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.”
Though admirable sentiments, an analysis of Obama’s record shows that the president has fallen shamefully short of his own lofty ideals.
1. Drone Strikes, Drone Strikes, and More Drone Strikes
Obama has personally spearheaded an intense campaign of drone strikes that is large in scope and shocking in brutality. The president has personally authorized 283 drone strikes in Pakistan alone, six times more than George W. Bush authorized during his eight years as president, and that figure does not include other drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia. Obama has even used drone strikes to kill American citizens without a trial or even a warrant, including the killing of a 16-year old American citizen in Yemen. CNN has reported that drone strikes in Pakistan have killed 49 people for every 1 militant leader killed, and has maintained that the Obama administration has consistently launched strikes “based on patterns of merely suspicious activity by a group of men, rather than the identification of a particular individual militant.” A new report from the Stanford and New York University law schools notes that since June 2004, drone strikes in Pakistan have killed between 2,562 and 3,325 people, including between 474 and 881 civilians and 176 children, and have injured between 1,228 and 1,362 people. The Obama administration’s insistence that they have not killed many civilians can be at least partially traced to their method of counting bodies — according to The New York Times, the Obama Administration counts “all military-age males in a strike zone as combatants, according to several administration officials, unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving them innocent.”
2. “Terror Tuesdays”
In May, The New York Times published a shocking report detailing Obama’s personal involvement in the crafting of a secret Department of Defense “kill list.” The article, which was based on interviews with dozens of Obama’s current and former advisers, described a standing Tuesday national security teleconference, dubbed the “Terror Tuesday” meeting, in which about 100 national security bigwigs recommend new names for the kill list. Obama insists on personally approving all names before they are included on the list, and personally approves all drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan, carrying out his personally determined execution sentences without trial, a warrant, or any judicial oversight whatsoever. In one notable case, Obama ordered the killing of a Pakistani Taliban leader even though he knew that the strike would almost certainly kill his wife and some close family members as well. Obama himself decided that the family members were acceptable collateral damage in the War on Terror, and indeed, the target’s family joined him in death.
During his 2008 campaign, candidate Obama promised repeatedly to shut down the U.S. military’s Guantanamo Bay prison camp. In the years since the Bush administration founded the prison camp away from the prying eyes of the judicial branch, there have been not leaks, but floods of reports chronicling the detainees’ denial of basic human rights, including access to attorneys and habeas corpus. The Guantanamo Bay prison camp remains open today.
4. The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)
In December 2011, Obama signed the NDAA which, among other things, gave the military the right to detain any terror suspect indefinitely without charges — even if the suspect is an American citizen. In signing the bill into law, Obama promised that his “administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens” because he believed that “doing so would break with our most important traditions and values as a Nation.” Besides going against some of the bedrock principles of the American legal system, even those who trust Obama to use such extraordinary power responsibly should be deeply uneasy with the NDAA. It is not just Obama, but Obama’s successors that will maintain the police state power to lock Americans up and throw away the key.
5. The War on Terror’s Domestic Blacklists
The Obama administration has continued to use a number of different government blacklists that prior administrations’ started as a way of generally harassing anyone that even seems associated with terrorists. Obama has kept in effect a number of George W. Bush’s policies that allow the administration to freeze the assets of almost anyone they want, citizen or not, if they even think the person in question is associated with someone who might be planning to commit a terrorist act. The Administration compiles these lists of “Specially Designated Nationals” and “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” using secret evidence and without offering the accused the chance to speak in their defense. Obama added new names to both the lists as recently as October 18, 2012, and the lists span almost 600 pages combined.
6. The PATRIOT Act
Obama signed the bill renewing the PATRIOT Act despite the anti-terror law’s obvious curbs on civil liberties. The Obama administration continued to use the PATRIOT Act’s expansion of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) to justify warrantless wiretaps without probable cause that the people being wiretapped had committed a crime. The Obama Administration also continued to use thousands of the so-called “Sneak and Peek” warrants authorized by the PATRIOT Act, which allow law enforcement to carry out a search warrant without notifying the subject of the warrant until sometime later.
7. Obamacare’s Restriction of Religious Freedom
The Affordable Care Act requires most employers to offer health insurance to their employees, and specifies the things that the health insurance plans must cover. In January 2012, the Obama administration announced that most of these employer-provided health insurance plans would be legally obligated to provide contraceptive services for women, including the morning-after pill. Since adherents to a variety of religions consider some contraception, like the morning-after pill, to be murder, the Affordable Care Act excused many different religious groups from being required to provide contraceptive services to their employees. The rationale was pretty simple — it is difficult to claim that America is a place of religious freedom if adherents to a legitimate religion are required to support what they consider to be murder. Indeed, since the debate about whether life begins at conception, at birth, or at some point in between rages on, with legitimate and sensible arguments on both sides, there can be no denying that destroying a fetus or embryo with the morning-after pill might be murder. With no one able to prove their opinion, a tolerant law that allows for legitimate religious differences makes the most sense.
Unfortunately for Catholic hospitals, universities, and non-profits, President Obama denied the Catholic Church’s request to expand Obamacare’s exemption to cover each of these Catholic Church-affiliated organizations, effectively requiring devout Catholics to either shut down their organizations or indirectly support what they consider to be murder. Though contraceptive services for women have a number of health benefits that are unrelated to pregnancy, Catholic organizations should not be forced to support them against their consciences. Forcing them to do so constitutes a material denial of their religious freedom. The Obama administration should show more respect for religious freedom, broadly expand their exemptions from providing contraceptive services, and seek a compromise that respects freedom of conscience while maintaining necessary health care. One possibility would be for the Feds to offer federally administered women’s health care plans for employee’s of organizations that have conscience-based objections to certain women’s health options.
The United States was founded based on the concept of certain inalienable rights — life, liberty, and due process among them. Yet Obama’s record shows anything but a view of these rights as inalienable. Due process — the right to a trial, the right to an attorney, habeas corpus, the right to speak in one’s defense, the right to privacy, and the right to not be considered guilty by proximity or association — are more than just a nice theory. Due process principles are the end product of lessons learned over centuries spent working toward the most civilized way of discovering the truth and holding people accountable for their actions in civil society. Denying these rights to anyone — even to terrorists, our worst enemies — is indefensible, and demonstrates that we are tarnishing the of the proud legacy of freedom and civility that we inherited from our parents and Founding Fathers.
As 20-somethings, this country is ours to inherit. We should leave no doubt that we value human rights, civil liberties and due process more than skipping a few steps to make things easier.
We can start by firing President Obama.