I was recently going through some old articles from the 2008 campaign of Senator Barack Obama. I stumbled on this Q & A from December 2007, involving Candidate Barack Obama and Charlie Savage, then of the Boston Globe, now of New York Times. It was pretty remarkable the answers Senator Obama gave to the questions presented to him, and the reality of today. Here is a list of some of the questions asked to him, and the answers he provided. I have also included some headlines, and articles about what is taking place in the world today under President Obama.
Charlie Savage: “Does the president have inherent powers under the Constitution to conduct surveillance for national security purposes without judicial warrants, regardless of federal statutes?”
Barack Obama: “The Supreme Court has never held that the president has such powers. As president, I will follow existing law, and when it comes to U.S. citizens and residents, I will only authorize surveillance for national security purposes consistent with FISA and other federal statutes.”
Back in 2007 Senator Obama said the right thing, but now in 2013 he is now singing a different tune when it comes to spying on U.S. citizens and residents:
- “The Obama administration‘s decision to seize phone records from the Associated Press was “unconstitutional” and sends a message that “if you talk to the press, we are going to go after you”, the news agency’s boss Gary Pruitt said Sunday.” – 5/19/2013 Rawstory.com
- “On Friday, Justice Department officials revealed that they had been going through The A.P.’s records for months. The dragnet covered work, home and cellphone records used by almost 100 people at one of the oldest and most reputable news organizations. James Cole, a deputy attorney general, offered no further explanation on Tuesday, saying only that it was part of a “criminal investigation involving highly classified material” from early 2012.”– 5/14/2013 New York Times
- “The Justice Department secretly collected two months of telephone records for reporters and editors at The Associated Press, the news service disclosed Monday in an outraged letter to Attorney General Eric Holder. The records included calls from several AP bureaus and the personal phone lines of several staffers, AP President Gary Pruitt wrote. Pruitt called the subpoenas a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” into its reporting.” – 5/14/2013 CNN
Charlie Savage: “In what circumstances, if any, would the president have constitutional authority to bomb Iran without seeking a use-of-force authorization from Congress? (Specifically, what about the strategic bombing of suspected nuclear sites — a situation that does not involve stopping an IMMINENT threat?)”
Barack Obama: “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
“As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.”
I would have to agree 100% with Senator Obama, military action should not be unilateral action, and it should not be ordered solely by the Executive branch. What does President Obama think about this:
- “Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones continued their bipartisan quest to end the U.S. military’s participation in the conflict in Libya, filing a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court against President Obama to “challenge the commitment of the United States to war in Libya absent the required constitutional legal authority.”” – 6/15/2011 ABC News
- “It has now been over three months since the first NATO bombs fell on Libya, yet President Obama has failed to request Congressional approval for military action, as required by the War Powers Act of 1973. The legal machinations Mr. Obama has used to justify war without Congressional consent set a troubling precedent that could allow future administrations to wage war at their convenience — free of legislative checks and balances.” – 6/20/2011 New York Times
Charlie Savage: “Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops — either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?”
Barack Obama: “No, the President does not have that power. To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”
Once again, Senator Obama and President Obama would disagree on this question, and once it is Rep. Dennis Kucinich who has the guts to call the President out on this flip-flop:
- “The Ohio congressman complained that the commander-in-chief sent the troops to Jordan “without notifying Congress.” Ironically, Kucinich noted, the Obama administration announced the deployment exactly ten years after the House of Representatives authorized President George W. Bush to invade Iraq.” – 10/10/2012 USNEWS.com
Charlie Savage: “Under what circumstances, if any, would you sign a bill into law but also issue a signing statement reserving a constitutional right to bypass the law?”
Barack Obama: “Signing statements have been used by presidents of both parties, dating back to Andrew Jackson. While it is legitimate for a president to issue a signing statement to clarify his understanding of ambiguous provisions of statutes and to explain his view of how he intends to faithfully execute the law, it is a clear abuse of power to use such statements as a license to evade laws that the president does not like or as an end-run around provisions designed to foster accountability.”
“I will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine congressional instructions as enacted into law. The problem with this administration is that it has attached signing statements to legislation in an effort to change the meaning of the legislation, to avoid enforcing certain provisions of the legislation that the President does not like, and to raise implausible or dubious constitutional objections to the legislation. The fact that President Bush has issued signing statements to challenge over 1100 laws – more than any president in history – is a clear abuse of this prerogative. No one doubts that it is appropriate to use signing statements to protect a president’s constitutional prerogatives; unfortunately, the Bush Administration has gone much further than that.”
Signing statements haven’t been President Obama’s biggest broken promise, but the way he has used them to attack whistle blowers is a huge broken promise. Obama promise
d to protect whistleblowers , saying their “acts of courage and patriotism, which can sometimes save lives and often save taxpayer dollars, should be encouraged rather than stifled.”
- “Obama issued a signing statement circumventing the NDAA’s whistleblower protections, saying he would interpret the law in a way that still allowed the heads of federal agencies to “supervise, control, and correct employees’ communications with the Congress” if those communications “reveal information that is properly privileged or otherwise confidential….he four members of Congress said they were concerned Obama’s statement “may be perceived as undermining Congressional intent and discouraging individuals from helping to protect taxpayer dollars.” It could also be perceived as “eroding” protections for federal workers and discouraging them from exposing improper behavior, they said.”– 1/17/2013 Huffington Post
On a side note Barack Obama and his Justice Department have used the Espionage Act of 1917 six times to bring cases against government officials for leaks to the media — twice as many as all their predecessors combined.
Charlie Savage: “Does the Constitution permit a president to detain US citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants?”
Barack Obama: “No. I reject the Bush Administration’s claim that the President has plenary authority under the Constitution to detain U.S. citizens without charges as unlawful enemy combatants.”
This in my opinion is the biggest slap in the face by President Obama. Not only has President Obama and lawyers fought to keep provisions in the NDAA to allow them to arrests and indefinitely detain anyone the deem as a “threat” they have also made sure to include U.S. Citizens. President Obama even beefed up President Bush’s AUMF signed after 9/11.
- “President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy because he will forever be known as the president who signed indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director. “The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from any battlefield. The ACLU will fight worldwide detention authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or internationally.”– ACLU 12/31/2011
- “the NDAA authorizes the military to detain even US citizens under the broad new anti-terrorism provisions provided in the bill, once again without trial.” – Forbes 1/02/12
- “The reality is that the NDAA did indeed wildly expand the president’s detention powers beyond what the 2001 AUMF provided. In contrast to the 2001 AUMF – which empowered the president to act against a relatively narrow category: those “he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on 11 September 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons” – the NDAA empowers him to act against a much broader range of people: not only those who perpetrated 9/11, but also “associated forces”, and not only those who are members of such groups, but those who “substantially support” them”– The Guardian 9/18/2012
Charlie Savage: “If Congress defines a specific interrogation technique as prohibited under all circumstances, does the president’s authority as commander in chief ever permit him to instruct his subordinates to employ that technique despite the statute?”
Barack Obama: “No. The President is not above the law, and the Commander-in-Chief power does not entitle him to use techniques that Congress has specifically banned as torture. We must send a message to the world that America is a nation of laws, and a nation that stands against torture. As President I will abide by statutory prohibitions, and have the Army Field Manual govern interrogation techniques for all United States Government personnel and contractors.”
Back 2011 President Obama declared a man guilty before his trial had even begun. This man was Bradley Manning who allegedly leaked War Crimes by the US to the news outlet Wikileaks. His reward was indefinite detention and torture at the hands of the Obama Administration. When asked directly about the treatment of Bradley Manning by his administration President Obama responded by saying “We are a nation of laws. We don’t let individuals make decisions about how the law operates. He [Bradley Manning] broke the law!”
- “More than 250 of America’s most eminent legal scholars have signed a letter protesting against the treatment in military prison of the alleged WikiLeaks source Bradley Manning, contesting that his “degrading and inhumane conditions” are illegal, unconstitutional and could even amount to torture….The list of signatories includes Laurence Tribe, a Harvard professor who is considered to be America’s foremost liberal authority on constitutional law. He taught constitutional law to Barack Obama and was a key backer of his 2008 presidential campaign….Tribe said the treatment was objectionable “in the way it violates his person and his liberty without due process of law and in the way it administers cruel and unusual punishment of a sort that cannot be constitutionally inflicted even upon someone convicted of terrible offences, not to mention someone merely accused of such offences”. – 4/10/11 The Guardian
Charlie Savage: “Under what circumstances, if any, is the president, when operating overseas as commander-in-chief, free to disregard international human rights treaties that the US Senate has ratified?”
Barack Obama: “It is illegal and unwise for the President to disregard international human rights treaties that have been ratified by the United States Senate, including and especially the Geneva Conventions. The Commander-in-Chief power does not allow the President to defy those treaties”.
It is amazing reading these answers almost 6 years later. I can go on and on about how this answer by Senator Obama is the complete opposite on how President Obama leads the country, but I will spare my fingers the pain of typing and just show some examples.
- “The study by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law calls for a re-evaluation of the practice, saying the number of “high-level” targets killed as a percentage of total casualties is extremely low — about 2%……It also casts doubts on Washington’s claims that drone strikes produce zero to few civilian casualties and alleges that the United States makes “efforts to shield the drone program from democratic accountability.”…..”TBIJ reports that from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children. TBIJ reports that these strikes also injured an additional 1,228 – 1,362 individuals,” according to the Stanford/NYU study.” CNN.Com 9/25/2012
- “There are estimates as high as 98% of drone strike casualties being civilians (50 for every one “suspected terrorist”). The Bureau of Investigative Journalism issued a report detailing how the CIA is deliberately targeting those who show up after the sight of an attack, rescuers, and mourners at funerals as a part of a “double-tap” strategy eerily reminiscient of methods used by terrorist groups like Hamas.”– Policymic.com 10/2012
Also don’t forget about the assassination of four U.S. citizens by President Obama (One being a 16 year-old boy), President Obama’s “Kill List” of “suspected” terrorist, and the fact that the Obama Administration and President Obama claim to have legal authority to kill, detain, and interrogate anyone they consider a “threat” or associated with anyone they consider a “threat”
I conclude in saying that this was just a few questions asked by Charlie Savage of the Boston Globe on foreign policy, and every single question Senator Obama answered, President Obama has done the complete opposite. This shows rhetoric and charisma can go a long way, all the way to the Oval Office. My plea to the American people is buyer beware, do your research before you just vote for someone because they say everything you you want to hear.
Sources: http://www.CNN.com, http://www.Boston.Com, http://www.RawStory.com, http://www.NewYorkTimes.com, www.guardian.co.uk, http://www.policymic.com, http://www.Forbes.com, http://www.ACLU.org, http://www.HuffingtonPost.com, http://www.USNEWS.com, http://www.ABCNews.com