Obama’s First-Term Track Record on Civil Liberties & Why It Matters Now

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The Rutherford Institute does just a fantastic job cataloging President Obama’s numerous infractions against civil liberties, which extend back to before he was president.

As John Whitehead explains, the president has shown himself to be a supporter of civil liberties infringements time and time again. Of particular interest, the president reversed himself in 2008 and supported granting telecoms retroactive immunity for breaking federal laws in conjunction with Bush-era domestic spying. As the CNET article Whitehead cites explains:

Sen. Barack Obama is taking heat from liberal supporters for changing his position on granting phone companies involved in President Bush’s domestic spying program retroactive immunity for breaking federal laws.

Previously, Obama opposed any immunity for the telecom companies. In February, Obama voted on a Senate bill against retroactive immunity. And when asked for CNET News.com’s 2008 Technology Voters’ Guide whether he supported “giving (phone companies) retroactive immunity for any illicit cooperation with intelligence agencies or law enforcement, ” he answered “No.”

During the primary, Obama vowed to fight such legislation to update the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, or FISA, the Times story said. But now he has switched his position to support a compromise bill that was worked out between the White House and Democratic Congressional leaders.

So when candidate Obama knew that his presidential election was in the bag, he was already reversing himself on his civil libertarian stances. What really mattered to Obama was appearing like an outsider; but even the backing of huge banking establishments like Chase and Goldman Sachs, and later General Electric and Google, should have been a dead giveaway that this man’s image did not match what he was there to do: loot the Treasury and change the American tradition of respecting individual rights.

The Obama track record is important because it shows that the violations of civil liberties happening right now are not anomalies. The IRS scandal of targeting tea party, conservative, Christian, pro-Israel and pro-Constitution groups is not a fluke. The DOJ going after the phone records of the AP and Fox News reporter James Rosen is not a fluke.

The EPA waiving fees on Freedom of Information Act requests much more often for progressive groups than for conservative groups is not a fluke. HHS strong-arming companies falling under Obamacare authority to contribute money to a “charity” is not a fluke. The NSA gathering phone records for both foreign and domestic calls is not a fluke.

The president has portrayed himself as a community change-agent fighting against the system. In reality, he is the ultimate user and abuser of the system to implement authoritarian measures and to infringe on civil liberties.

More importantly, the abuse of civil liberties can always be expected whenever the government operates without media and democratic accountability. Big government is always bad government.

What we are seeing are not even separate scandals, but a scandalous government seeking to “fundamentally transform” the country into one where such rewarding of political allies and punishment of friends is the standard operating procedure of the government.

That is why the government wants to disarm the people. That is why it wants to regulate everyone’s property down to the toilet water and the light bulb. That is why it wants everyone enrolled in a government healthcare system where bureaucrats like Kathleen Sebelius can act like a death panel deciding who lives and who dies. That is why the same IRS that was targeting conservatives will be enforcing the penalties and will have access to people’s medical records. That is why Obama’s re-election team and Google are virtually the same people, and the search engine is harvesting everything people do on their servers.

This is not big government run amok; this is how big government runs. And the sooner all Americans can stop their partisan bickering long enough to acknowledge it, the better off we’ll all be.

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