BY DENNIS BEHREANDT
At this late stage in the 2012 presidential campaign, why should anyone continue to support Ron Paul?
The question is not meant to disparage Paul, but only to recognize the reality of the GOP race. On the face of things, with Rick Santorum suspending his campaign and Newt Gingrich an afterthought, it seems a sure thing that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. Supporting Ron Paul, from this perspective, seems futile, and even a waste of time.
But that would be an incorrect interpretation of the facts. Instead, now, for liberals (and for everyone else) is the time to do everything possible to support Ron Paul. The reason? Only by a vigorous show of support for the Texas Congressman can Americans hope to make an issue of the ever more invasive national security state that threatens to turn the United States into a nation of captives rather than a republic populated by free citizens. This goes especially for those Americans who think of themselves as liberals concerned with civil rights.
Liberals face a crisis with the 2012 presidential election. The president of “hope and change,” supported so broadly four years ago, has largely been a disappointment. The Obama administration promised to be the most open and transparent administration in history. It even maintains a page on the White House website with this statement from President Obama: “My Administration is committed to creating an unprecedented level of openness in Government. We will work together to ensure the public trust and establish a system of transparency, public participation, and collaboration. Openness will strengthen our democracy and promote efficiency and effectiveness in Government.”
This is widely considered to be a joke. The Obama administration has, if anything, been one of the most secretive administrations in history. The ACLU even filed a lawsuit against the administration over its secrecy. In February, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald reported that the organization filed the suit “against various agencies of the Obama administration — the Justice and Defense Departments and the CIA — over their refusal to disclose any information about the assassination of American citizens.”
Is a secretive government what liberals who supported Obama had in mind? How about a government that flagrantly violates the most basic of human rights, despite the fact that they are protected by the Bill of Rights?
Here are some of the very ominous ways in which the Obama administration has sought to undermine the constitutional protections Americans enjoy:
- The Obama administration believes that American citizens outside the country are no longer protected by the Bill of Rights at all. UCLA law professor Kal Raustiala has pointed out that the Supreme Court ruled in 1957 “that American citizens are in fact protected against U.S. government misbehavior by the Bill of Rights even outside the country.” By its treatment of American journalists and others returning to the U.S. from abroad, the Obama administration has demonstrated its contempt of the Bill of Rights. Consider the case of Oscar-nominated filmmaker Laura Poitras. As reported (again by Glenn Greenwald), Poitras is routinely detained and searched by Department of Homeland Security personnel whenever she returns home. But it’s not just Poitras. Greenwald writes: “With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip, and then copies and even seizes their electronic devices (laptops, cameras, cellphones) and other papers (notebooks, journals, credit card receipts), forever storing their contents in government files. No search warrant is needed for any of this. No oversight exists. And there are no apparent constraints on what the U.S. Government can do with regard to whom it decides to target or why.” Searches of this type are expressly forbidden by the Fourth Amendment. But under the Obama administration, the Bill of Rights does not apply.
- More shockingly, the Obama administration believes the President has the authority to order the execution, sans trial, of any American overseas. The administration put its belief into action on September 30, 2011 when it killed American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, a disreputable character allegedly affiliated with al-Qaeda. Remarking on the killing, former Reagan administration official turned columnist Paul Craig Roberts wrote: “Many expected President Obama to re-establish the accountability of government to law. Instead, he went further than Bush/Cheney and asserted the unconstitutional power not only to hold American citizens indefinitely in prison without bringing charges, but also to take their lives without convicting them in a court of law. Obama asserts that the US Constitution notwithstanding, he has the authority to assassinate US citizens, who he deems to be a ‘threat,’ without due process of law.” Subsequently, in a speech at Northwestern University Law School, Attorney General Eric Holder explained Obama’s power to summarily order the execution of Americans: “The president may use force abroad against a senior operational leader of a foreign terrorist organization with which the United States is at war — even if that individual happens to be a U.S. citizen.” To this, legal scholar Jonathan Turley remarked: “Obama has replaced the constitutional protections afforded to citizens with a ‘trust me’ pledge that Holder repeated yesterday at Northwestern. The good news is that Holder promised not to hunt citizens for sport.” As if this isn’t bad enough, senior administration officials have had a hard time deciding if the President can order the execution of citizens who are within the borders of the country. As recounted in a recent column by Turley, FBI Director Robert Mueller said he was unsure if the administration could kill Americans within the U.S. “On Wednesday Mueller was asked in a congressional hearing whether the current policy would allow the killing of citizens in the United States,” Turley wrote. “Mueller said that he simply did not know whether he could order such an assassination. It was the perfect moment to capture the dangerous ambiguity introduced into our system by this claim of inherent authority. I can understand Mueller deferring to the Attorney General on the meaning of his remarks, but the question was whether Mueller understands that the same power exists within the United States. One would hope that the FBI Director would have a handle on a few details guiding his responsibilities, including whether he can kill citizens without a charge or court order.” One wonders what Thomas Jefferson, who mentioned in the Declaration of Independence that the right to life is unalienable, would think of this.
These are the most alarming and egregious of the Obama administration’s attacks on the basic, constitutionally protected rights of Americans. They are hardly alone. Obama has not opposed the Bush administration’s Patriot Act. He signed the reprehensible NDAA that cracks open the door to military detention of American citizens, and he has signed an executive order that pretty much allows the President to seize control of the entire private sector should he wish.
When it comes to basic constitutional rights, the Obama administration is at least as bad as the Bush administration, and possibly worse. When it comes to the 2012 election, therefore, liberals for whom civil rights should be a key issue, can not, in good conscience, support the President for reelection on the basis of this terrible, authoritarian record.
They can’t support the Republican frontrunner either. In 2007, the Associate Press reported: “Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney said more intense methods of CIA interrogation are acceptable in dealing with terrorism and he praised the broad powers granted law enforcement under the USA Patriot Act.” These days, Romney’s campaign website declares his allegiance to the Constitution as the Founding Fathers wrote it. “Mitt Romney’s view of the Constitution is straightforward: its words have meaning. The founding generation adopted a written constitution for a reason. They intended to limit the powers of government according to enduring principles.”
The question for liberals where Romney is concerned is, which version do we have this time — the Patriot Act Romney of yore or the supposed “constitutionalist” of 2012?
Really, in all honesty, there is only one candidate that actually has a consistent and clear record of opposing the dangerous and unconstitutional attacks on human rights and liberties perpetrated by the Bush and Obama administrations over the last decade.
Ron Paul may face diminished chances to unseat the Republican frontrunner, but citizens can send a clear message that enough is enough with the burgeoning national security state by participating a popularity surge in favor of Ron Paul.
Doing so is crucial if we are to arrest and reverse the American security state’s embrace of tyranny and rejection of the Constitution. And that’s why liberals (and everyone else) should get behind Ron Paul.
(Image Credit: CC BY-SA 2.0/Gage Skidmore)
The Moral Liberal Associate Editor, Dennis Behreandt, is the Founder and Editor In Chief of the American Daily Herald. Mr. Behreandt has written hundreds of articles on subjects ranging from natural theology to history and from science and technology to philosophy. His research interests include the period of late antiquity in European history as well as Medieval and Renaissance history.