Archived Story

Imperial presidency hurts our nation

Published 9:31am Friday, January 25, 2013

In the early days of 2009 the new President, Barack Obama, visited the CIA bearing good news for those who had tortured during the Iraq war: They would not face prosecution.

Candidate Obama had, as many experts had agreed, acknowledged that waterboarding and other U.S. acts of interrogation, constituted torture and violated civil and military law, the U.S. Constitution, the military code of conduct and the Geneva Conventions.

Yet those who committed what were clearly crimes were exonerated by the new president as though they had walked on the White House lawn and were forgiven. This decision argues the same basis as the Nuremberg defense of “just following orders” according to Jeffery Turley, Public Interest Law Professor at George Washington University.

It was the beginning of President Obama’s shift away from protecting civil liberty and movement toward security over liberty.

It is unconstitutional to detain any person or combatant without due process, but the U.S. continues to hold prisoners without trial, conviction, or a chance for exoneration, a Bush policy continued by Obama.

Further, in direct conflict with the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring due process, this president has asserted the right to kill U.S. citizens when the president deems it justified. The first killing justified by this newly claimed authority was Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen reputed to be an Al Qaeda terrorist. Al Awlaki was killed by a U.S. drone authorized by the president.

The Fifth Amendment expressly requires the approval of the judicial system to grant due process as a means to limit the power of the executive branch of government.

The Obama administration, through Attorney General Holder claims that the executive branch conducts a “thorough and careful review” before authorizing the killing of a U.S. citizen. Holder also asserts that due process and judicial process are not the same.

But they are unless Congress rules otherwise, and Congress has not done so.

This president has also permitted the expansion of warrantless wiretapping. In this week’s news, Internet titan Google reports an 85 percent increase in information requests from the government from 2010 to 2012. And 68 percent of the requests in 2012 were without warrants, often providing only subpoenas, an easier to obtain document.

In late December of last year the Senate passed a FISA renewal of these powers by wide margin. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon demanded to know how many Americans had undergone surveillance by warrantless wiretap and his request was refused.

And, in a troubling portent of future war, the president has claimed the right to drone attacks in the sovereign territory of other nations based solely upon U.S. intel by security agencies, the same ones that have gotten the facts wrong far too many times to count.

Will these attacks be viewed as acts of war by other nations? It is certainly possible that the drone attacks could inadvertently draw the U.S. into conflicts around the globe.

America likes this president; a recent survey cites 74 percent of Americans like President Obama while only 47 percent agree with his policies. But liking a president, and liking security, is not worth surrendering freedom and denying long held civil rights.

President Obama should not be remembered as Richard Nixon and George Bush, presidents who sought executive power over Constitutional authority. Obama needs to leave a legacy to freedom, principle, and honor to the Constitution.

And while Congress has been either silent or complicit in permitting the executive overreach, it must live up to its constitutional role, fulfilling its obligations to all citizens.

 

Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.

 

  • mickakers

    keta; An interesting observation, Jim Crawford, you and I are on the same team. There is a lack of unity similar to the lack of unity in Christ’s Church. We are sadly lacking.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    keta; May I offer this comment from the Association of Pro-Life Physicians: “life begins at fertilization, when a sperm unites with an oocyte.” “I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly, I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy.” Hippocrates, 400 B.C., Greece. “To accept the fact that after fertilization has taken place a new human has come into being is no longer a matter of taste or opinion…it is plain experimental evidence.” The Father of Modern Genetics, Dr. Jerome Lejeune, Univ. of Descarte, Paris. “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Dr. Hymie Gordon, Chairman, Department of Genetics at the Mayo Clinic. And yes, keta, I am looking at an uphill climb do to the moral degradation of our society. May God Help Us. I concur with your comment in regard to the Republican Parties “smelly record re poor women and their children”. Historically speaking the Republican Party has been lacking in their care and concern for the average or less than average American. However, at the present time the Grand Old Party stands a notch above the party of the people (Democratic) if you take priorities into consideration. God’s Speed, Keta. As a PS: I am opposed to “in vitro fertilization”, there are moral dangers in this process. As a side note, I don’t feel like I am ranting, merely expressing an opinion.

    (Report comment)

  • keta

    Fetuses aren’t children, they’re potential children. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you rant about in vitro fertilization, in which countless fetuses have been frozen, discarded, sacrificed in the quest for that one desired baby. I happen to think the born are as important as the unborn. Republicans are notoriously indifferent to poor women and children; historically, babies lose their value to them once they draw breath. Between the law, the rights of women and republicans’ smelly record re poor women and their children, you’re looking at an uphill climb.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    keta; You seem to fail to appreciate that along with rights comes responsibilities. What about the children these women cooperate in killing, do they have any rights?

    (Report comment)

  • keta

    relativism is the idea that:

    ………..we have the right to determine our own futures, except for women, who should be forced to bear children they hadn’t planned to have. Relativism is also abiding by the laws of our land, except the one you don’t like, a woman’s legal right to end a pregnancy if she chooses to. It’s prizing the autonomy of families, all except for limiting its size through the legal means of terminating an unwanted pregnancy. It’s also prizing motherhood, unless there’s a choice between saving a baby in utero or saving the mother, in which case that baby, and any other children, will have to be raised by someone else. There are a lot of good reason republicans who aren’t extremists stay away from this issue, mostly the fact that women are citizens, with all the rights thereof.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    keta; A short definition of relativism is: Relativism is the idea that there is no universal, absolute truth but that truth differs from person to person and culture to culture. In other words, truth is relative to what each person or culture thinks. Wikipedia has a lengthy article on it.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    keta; As a PS: All advanced societies have recognized the value of the knowledge and wisdom that the elder members of such society can contribute to its well-being.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    keta; Your defense of the reproductive lives of women is less than admirable. Along with reproduction rights comes responsibility for the unborn child in the womb. This newly formed life has the inalienable right to exist. Your defensive efforts would be put to much better use in defending the rights of the most helpless members of our society, the unborn. In regard to your comment pertaining to “a society as advanced as ours”, I fear it may be infected with a terminal disease called Relativism.

    (Report comment)

  • keta

    Mick, it’s laughably easy for both you and Jim Crawford, a couple of retirees with lots of opinions, to criticize. It would be interesting to see what would happen if either of you could trade places with the president for a day. The president’s position on national security changed when he started receiving daily intelligence briefings and became aware of the scope and ferocity of the threats to our safety. And, as always, he’s the president of millions of women like me, who are horrified at the very existence of the old men who want to control the reproductive lives of women. He’s dealing with zealots so extreme that the health and even the lives of women are beneath consideration. He understands that there’s no ridding a society as advanced as ours of abortion; there’s only the decision about whether it will be safe and legal, or criminal and often fatal to American women. Hate abortion? Don’t have one.

    (Report comment)

  • mickakers

    My compliments Jim on a thought provoking article, however, may I go a step further and mention his support for the killing of the unborn and his advocacy of the disregard for freedom of conscience when it comes to religious beliefs as exhibited in his Obamacare legislation. Are all his moral failings indicative of the American people?

    (Report comment)

Editor's Picks

Special needs camp teaches bike-riding

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The father didn’t want anyone to see, so he tried to casually brush them away. But the tears that welled in his ... Read more

Antique equipment shows off history

Ohio lies in a unique position within the United States, with part of the state situated in the Mid-West and the southeastern portion of the ... Read more

Unexpected heroes

Passersby help people trapped in burning house   Heroes don’t always wear capes, uniforms or badges. They aren’t always scanning the skies, or roaming alleyways ... Read more

Rescuer tries to save orphaned fawn

ROME TOWNSHIP — A hunter taking a deer out of season Monday afternoon left two orphans — one apparently lost to the woods and the ... Read more  | 2 comments