Start the presses… please!
As Jim reported early this morning, the Obama Administration has gone on the record this week as supporting George W. Bush’s doctrine of extreme presidential authoritarianism.
The case has to do with a charity, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation, which has been shut down because it’s been accused of being connected with terrorism. However, the matter doesn’t have to do with that alleged terrorist connection. Rather, it has to do with the way that alleged connection was investigated.
You see, the Al-Haramain Islamic Foundation was the target of illegal government spying – wiretapping without a search warrant. So were the lawyers hired by the charity. That’s a known fact because of government documents that were leaked and came to the attention of the foundation and its lawyers.
The charity and the lawyers who were spied against filed suit against the government for violating their constitutional rights by engaging in that spying. However, even after the documents proving the spying were made public, George W. Bush asserted that the information in the documents were state secrets, and could not be referred to in court because of that. Furthermore, the Bush Administration made arguments in the case, and demanded that the content of those arguments be withheld from the plaintiffs.
Barack Obama has decided to support the position of George W. Bush in this case. The following are the arguments that President Obama has instructed his lawyers to make in order to support that position:
– The President of the United States is above the law, having the right to purposefully commit a crime when he deems it to be necessary.
– The President of the United States doesn’t need to get a search warrant to spy against anybody he thinks should be spied on.
– The government can listen to the private consultations of lawyers with their clients, again without a search warrant.
– The President can withhold evidence from a court by claiming that evidence to be secret, even when the evidence isn’t secret.
– The President can make secret arguments before a court to defend itself against a suit, and the lawyers representing the plaintiff don’t even have the right to know what those arguments are, much less to make their own counter-arguments against them.
These are the powers of a tyrant, not the president of a free nation. Yet, these are the powers that President George W. Bush claimed. They are powers that President Barack Obama has now claimed as well.
That’s disappointing to some extent, but I have understood for a long while that Barack Obama’s lofty rhetoric about freedom and open government and change do not match the reality of what Barack Obama does.
What’s more disappointing to me is the reaction of mainstream journalists: For the most part, they’re pretending that not much is going on. Searching Google News for articles about the Al-Haramain case, I’m only finding a three or four original articles. Those articles have been reprinted in some form or another in the inside sections of some local newspapers, but otherwise, they’ve been ignored.
Editorial boards aren’t writing editorials on these events. Follow-up explanations for readers who aren’t familiar with the issues aren’t being published either. Probing questions at press conferences have not been forthcoming.
Why? Professionals of the mainstream press have been busy following other stories instead. Thousands of original articles have been written about Rihanna and Chris Brown. As many articles have been written about the olympic sport of curling as the Al-Haramain case.
If the commercial press won’t do the job of spreading the news about Barack Obama’s repeat of Bush’s seizure of power… will you?