Read part 1 here.
Doug: Let’s take these in order. First:
Assassination of US citizens: “President Obama has claimed, as President George W. Bush did before him, the right to order the killing of any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism.”
Of course the very concept of terrorism is highly malleable, with over 100 definitions floating about – as we’ve discussed. But apart from that, it’s now accepted that the president and his minions have the right to kill almost anyone.
This conceit will get completely out of control after the next real or imagined major terrorist incident.
Louis: This reminds me of the extraordinary powers given to government agents to battle the War On Some Drugs – like the RICO statutes – which have now been turned against ordinary citizens who have nothing to do with the drug trade.
Doug: Exactly. Once you give the state a power – for whatever good reason you imagine it needs it – it will use that power for whatever those in charge feel is in their interests. And those in charge are never saints.
Indefinite detention: “Under the law signed last month, terrorism suspects are to be held by the military; the president also has the authority to indefinitely detain citizens accused of terrorism.”
This was a precedent set by Guantánamo, where scores of the accused continue to rot without even a kangaroo-court trial.
Arbitrary justice: “The president now decides whether a person will receive a trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal, a system that has been ridiculed around the world for lacking basic due process protections. Bush claimed this authority in 2001, and Obama has continued the practice.”
As the government becomes more powerful, it’s completely predictable that everything – including the justice system – will become ever more politicized. And government very rarely relinquishes a power it’s gained. I particularly like the Supreme Court ruling in April 2012 that allows anyone who’s arrested for anything – including littering or jaywalking – to be strip-searched.
Louis: Note to readers: you can’t hear Doug’s voice, but I assure you that his use of the word “like” is sarcastic.
Doug: Just so. Moving right along:
Warrantless searches: “The president may now order warrantless surveillance, including a new capability to force companies and organizations to turn over information on citizens’ finances, communications and associations. Bush acquired this sweeping power under the Patriot Act in 2001, and in 2011, Obama extended the power, including searches of everything from business documents to library records.”
Privacy is now a completely dead concept, from both a legal and a practical point of view. If you want to retain privacy, you now have no alternative to relocating outside the US.
Louis: Or any advanced Western country. I’ve read that there are more surveillance cameras per square mile in London than anywhere else.
Doug: I’ve heard that too. The opposite being true in rural Argentina is one of the things I like about it. Back to the list:
Secret evidence: “The government now routinely uses secret evidence to detain individuals and employs secret evidence in federal and military courts. It also forces the dismissal of cases against the United States by simply filing declarations that the cases would make the government reveal classified information that would harm national security…”
“National security” essentially amounts to nothing more than government security, which amounts to cover for the individuals in the government. Nazi Germany and the USSR were national-security states. As I’ve tried to explain in the past, once a critical mass is reached, it’s impossible to reform a government. I believe we’ve reached that state in the US.
War crimes: “The world clamored for prosecutions of those responsible for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration, but the Obama administration said in 2009 that it would not allow CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for such actions. This gutted not just treaty obligations but the Nuremberg principles of international law.”
Torture by field operatives under the stress of…….