It is now clear why Obama rarely, if ever, wrote articles during his tenure as editor of the Harvard Law Review: he has no concept of American law or the Constitution. Obama’s Administration has engaged in numerous illegal activities both aboard and at home. Illegal wars, violations of other nation’s sovereignty, constitutional violations at home, and other lawlessness pervade his presidency. Such actions demonstrate a blatant disregard for the rule of law and contempt for the spirit of checks and balances on which the U.S. was founded.
There are seemingly endless examples of the US government over-stretching its authority and, in so doing, trampling on the rights and liberties of US citizens since 9-11. Unfortunately, the pace at which these liberties are being dissolved is accelerating. One would have hoped that President Obama would have reversed some of the infringements on civil liberties carried out by George W. Bush. But, despite his 2008 campaign promises to protect the Constitution, Obama’s White House has lit it ablaze.
The protection of political protest took a serious blow when Obama signed HR 347 into law in 2012. The bill “outlaws protests in instances where some government officials are nearby, whether or not you even know it.” It also prevents peaceful protests of things like UN and G8 summits and allows for demonstrators at Occupy events to become subject to federal charges in certain circumstances. Again, these charges can be brought on protestors who do not know they are in violation of any laws. Such a law chills political speech and dissent.
Earlier this year, the Department of Homeland Security was caught lying to Congress about its programs that track political speech on social media. Such monitoring is antithetical to the principles on which the U.S. was established. Speech, particularly political speech, is sacrosanct. Citizens will not freely express their opinions and criticisms if they know that the government is watching and gather information. For this reason, such snooping by the DHS is grossly inappropriate in a free society.
The Obama Administration did not limit its unlawful surveillance to the Internet however. They also tried to argue before the Supreme Court that the government has the right to put GPS trackers on vehicles without warrants or probable cause. In other words, the government wanted to follow anyone at anytime for any amount of time, and without explaining its reasons for doing so. The White House has also engaged in other forms of constitutional treachery. The administration has participated in hundreds of thousands of administrative subpoenas that give government agencies near unbridled access to a citizen’s internet records, utility bills, library records, banking, and other forms of private information. These National Security Letters are clearly a violation of constitutionally protected civil liberties. While these subpoenas are obnoxious violations of the rights of American citizens, the National Security Agency has taken such data collection abuses to a new level. According to NSA whistleblower William Benney, the NSA now monitors the phone calls, emails, text messages and other electronic communications of “virtually every US citizen in the country.” In other words, everyone is a suspect in today’s America.
UNCHECKED CHECKS AND BALANCES
Unfortunately, the U.S. government resembles a dictatorship more and more each year. The White House violates the law without congressional approval at an increasing rate. For example, The DREAM act was designed to grant certain illegal aliens residency and other benefits in the U.S. When it had stalled in Congress, Obama seized on the opportunity by declaring by fiat that parts of the legislation were now law, Congress be damned. It is entirely possible that despite the political timing of his announcement, Obama believed that granting special provisions to illegal immigrants was “the right thing to do.” However, it is not his place to declare new laws. The DREAM Act is not going to register on the top of too many people’s priority list, but it is important to note the mindset of a politician who demonstrates such contempt for the checks and balances of the Republic.
Similarly, Obama has released numerous executive orders and signing statements, both of which illegally supersede the powers of Congress. In fact, despite being a vocal critic of Bush’s use of signing statements, Obama has used them repeatedly. These statements change legislation without the oversight of the legislative branch, allowing the President powers the Founding Fathers never intended him to have. While signing statements alter existing legislation, executive orders are simply rule by fiat. Obama has used executive orders to regulate commerce, levy sanctions against Americans’ bank accounts without trial, take full control of telecommunications, and to carry on many other acts that the Constitution does not assign to the President. Obama seems to believe that it is his right to choose which powers are delegated to him, a belief that has no place in a constitutional republic.
Away from home, the White House carries out military campaigns without consulting Congress, in direct violation of the War Powers Act. In June of this year, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted during an intelligence briefing that, “We are fighting a war in the FATA [the Pakistani tribal areas].” In addition to numerous drone strikes that have wreaked havoc in the region, the U.S. also has ground troops fighting in the northwest region of Pakistan. While Panetta was comfortable discussing this war to an audience across the globe, neither he nor the President have asked for congressional authorization to allow for such a conflict. Nor has Congress been consulted over drone strikes in Yemen, Somalia, or Libya that have resulted in hundreds of dead civilians, including an innocent American teenager. But, again, the administration seems to have no qualms with unilateral action. As another example, Obama green-lit cyber warfare on Iran when he approved the implementation of the Stuxnet virus to disable Iran’s nuclear facilities. The administration has said that they would consider a similar attack carried out against the US to be an act of war. So, while the White House admits that cyber attacks are, in fact, acts of war, they have no interest in acquiring the necessary congressional consent to carry out such a war.
ILLEGAL OPERATIONS IN FOREIGN COUNTRIES
In the military briefing involving the above mentioned ongoing drone wars in Pakistan, Leon Panetta stated, “We have made it very clear that we are going to continue to defend ourselves. This is about our sovereignty as well.” It is rather disingenuous of Panetta to invoke the protection of U.S. sovereignty while clearly violating Pakistan’s sovereignty. The logical holes in the administration’s claims are glaringly apparent. If Pakistan decided to fly tactical drone missions over U.S. soil, fire on “combatants,” and, in the process kill U.S. citizens; the administration would immediately (and rightfully) retaliate militarily. However, the White House believes it has the right to use drone attacks wherever it sees fit. In addition to Pakistan, the U.S. has actively engaged in drone strikes in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia. Last week, the White House came dangerously close to (if not, actually in) Iranian airspace with a drone. Each strike and incursion on another country’s borders is both an act of war and an attack on that nation’s sovereignty.
The White House is also content to allow and approve illegal gun and drug operations in other countries. As Adam Bilzerian writes:
The Obama Administration’s continuation of the drug war has had serious consequences for Mexican civilians as well. In what has become known as the Fast and Furious scandal, American agents actually supplied Mexican drug cartels with automatic weapons which were used to kill Americans. According to a high ranking member of the Mexican Sinoloa drug cartel, the Obama Administration has been giving the Sinoloa cartel carte blanche to smuggle drugs into the US and using Operation Fast and Furious to supply the drug cartel with weapons in exchange for intelligence on competing cartels. As a result of Obama’s policies, tens of thousands of Mexicans and Americans have been murdered.
These are flagrant violations of both the laws of the U.S. and Mexico. To make matters worse, Attorney General Eric Holder flat out lied to Congress about the date that he became aware of Operation Fast and Furious. He also encouraged Obama to exercise executive privilege to cover their behinds. The administration is doing its best to hide as much information as it can from Congress to avoid being indicted in the deaths of thousands of civilians.
It seems that the Sinaloa Cartel is not the only criminal organization being propped up by Washington. Last week, President Rafael Correa of Ecuador accused the CIA and DEA of dealing drugs in Chile to raise money for a campaign to destabilize Correa’s government. The alleged scandal is being called “Chile-Contras” in reference to the CIA’s narcotrafficking in the 1980s. Of course, a U.S. backed program to sell drugs in one country and then disrupt the democratic process in another violates an untold number of laws in all the concerned countries.
The laws being broken in secret and in plane view by the White House seem innumerable. The administration is as comfortable trouncing the laws and dominion of other nations as it is at dissolving civil liberties at home. It is astounding to think that the above rap sheet belongs to a man who was recently reelection. Now that he has been reelected, the gloves are off. President Obama actually ordered a new drone strike within 24 hours of reelection. The Obama Administration has demonstrated that it can and will do as it pleases. It has usurped the power of Congress and supports criminal organizations worldwide. It will be no surprise when the abuses of office continue to escalate over the next four years.