Support Obama in 2012? Part 1 The Policies So Far (Civil Liberties & Dissent)
Civil Liberties & Dissent
One of the areas that has been extremely disturbing for progressives is Obama’s record on civil liberties and dissent. The issues here relate to his failure to close the Guantanamo prison camp, which he promised to do during his 2008 campaign, the FBI’s harassment and repression of activists in Chicago and Los Angeles, the imprisonment and mistreatment of Bradley Manning, and the 2011 renewal of the Patriot Act, among other issues. Once again, Obama’s record in this area is practically indistinguishable from that of his Republican predecessor. Let’s take a closer look at each of these issues...................
A second area where civil rights in the U.S. have been diminished is with regard to the FBI’s increasing repression against U.S. activists. In contrast to the Guantanamo problem, this is a policy that the Obama administration has actually intensified. One of the perhaps most outrageous instances of this policy has been the FBI’s raiding of anti-war activists homes, seizing of their papers and computers, and the issuing of grand jury subpoenas against them. Since September 24, 2010, when the first such raids took place, the FBI has targeted 23 activists throughout the U.S. These are all long-time activists, active in anti-war, labor, and solidarity organizing. Palestinian solidarity activists seem to have been particularly targeted in this FBI wave of repression.
The Obama Justice Department’s “investigation” is particularly chilling because grand jury subpoenas can easily lead to prosecutions based on flimsy evidence, where prosecutors use even the slightest contradiction of statements as an excuse for perjury prosecutions. Anyone who refuses to testify can be held in contempt and can face prison terms of up to 18 months, which could then be renewed via new subpoenas. Historically the grand jury process has been used to repress a wide variety of activism in the U.S., such as the civil rights movement, Puerto Rican independence movement, animal liberation movements, and solidarity movements.