Happy Bill of Rights Day! I don't know about you, but the White House celebrated in glorious, hypocritical style by issuing a proclamation exalting the "fundamental liberties [that] have shaped our national character and stirred the souls of all who dream of a freer, more just world," right after reversing its position on the National Defense Authorization Act…
Barack Obama has abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantanamo Bay.
Human rights groups accused the president of deserting his principles and disregarding the long-established principle that the military is not used in domestic policing. The legislation has also been strongly criticised by libertarians on the right angered at the stripping of individual rights for the duration of "a war that appears to have no end".
The law, contained in the defence authorisation bill that funds the US military, effectively extends the battlefield in the "war on terror" to the US and applies the established principle that combatants in any war are subject to military detention.
The Obama administration does have a checkered record on civil liberties, but it's important to acknowledge the progress that has been made. For example, when you hear that knock on your door in the middle of the night, it's quite possible that an openly-serving gay soldier will be the one to drape a black hood over your head (kinky!) and haul your terror suspect ass to Guantanamo.
Secondly, while the Bush administration just assumed that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force empowered them to imprison people without charges, the Obama administration will have these provisions formally codified. Rule of law, baby!
Finally, it's probably only a matter of time before SOPA, PROTECT IP and various other "Internet kill switch" bills shut down whole swathes of the Web where whiny civil libertarians talk about these issues, and then we'll finally be spared the embarrassing knowledge of just how far we done fell.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images News/Getty Images
Tags: Barack Obama, Civil Rights, Guantanamo Bay, Military, Terrorism