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It's a fine line between living for the moment and being a sociopath.

Patricia B McConnell: For The Love Of A Dog.

Pema Chodron: The Places That Scare You

Daniel Wallace: Mr Sebastian & the Negro Magician

All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. --Pablo Neruda

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Getting concerned about Obama's approach to individuals' rights

A string of not very happy appointments, decisions and court interventions is making me nervous about just how much change Obama will be bringing to the fight for civil liberties, which has been under assault for years.

In the last week alone, the Obama DOJ (a) attempted to shield Bush's illegal spying programs from judicial review by (yet again) invoking the very "state secrets" argument that Democrats spent years condemning and by inventing a brand new "sovereign immunity" claim that not even the Bush administration espoused, and (b) argued that individuals abducted outside of Afghanistan by the U.S. and then "rendered" to and imprisoned in Bagram have no rights of any kind -- not even to have a hearing to contest the accusations against them -- even if they are not Afghans and were captured far away from any "battlefield." These were merely the latest -- and among the most disturbing -- in a string of episodes in which the Obama administration has explicitly claimed to possess the very presidential powers that Bush critics spent years condemning as radical, lawless and authoritarian.

Glenn Greenwald, on CommonDreams.org.
(Hat tip to OneGoodMove.)

This is happening at the same time that incidents of overzealous and over-reaching law enforcement continue to mount across America. Here, just the most recent of dozens of examples of someone having his rights trampled by badge-bedecked boys in blue, who clearly felt they could act with impunity.

Border patrol alleged to have beat up and tazed pastor, smashed his car, on US soil, because he insisted on 4th Amendment rights

Respect for civil liberties is fostered by example. Preferably examples from on high. But disrespect for civil liberties is bred in exactly the same way: by example.

If the President -- or his appointed agents -- can beat people up without pesky due process, why can't I?

America is no longer a beacon of respect for individuals' civil rights. Not even within its own borders.

And, to add to all of that, the Recording Industry Association of America -- the RIAA, that record industry trade group that enforces intellectual property rights by extorting money from downloaders by threatening law suits -- seems to be in favour in the Obama White House, as well.

Obama adds yet another RIAA attorney to Justice Department roster (now there are 5)

Nervous. I had hoped for better than this.


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