In 1971, President Richard Nixon ordered his White House thugs to go after Daniel Ellsberg for making public the Pentagon Papers. The Papers were quite an embarrassment to Nixon's White House. Nixon responded by beginning a campaign "against further leaks and against Ellsberg personally." Part of that campaign we know now as the Watergate burglary. Watergate eventually led to President Nixon's resignation.
Today, I feel sympathy for Nixon. Not because he wasn't a deeply disturbed and lawless Republican President...he was....but because, if he were president today, Nixon would have had the liberty to simply 'disappear' Daniel Ellsberg. Watergate would have never been necessary, and Nixon could have finished out his second term without having to resign in humiliation.
Let me explain.
Two weeks ago, President Obama threatened to veto the 2012 Defense Authorization Act if the bill constrained the presidency in any way from..."collecting intelligence, incapacitating dangerous terrorists, and protecting the American people".....in whatever way the Commander in Chief determined.
Now, Obama has withdrawn his veto threat.
The counterterrorism section of the bill....
...states that the entire world, including American soil, is a battlefield in the war on terror. It expands the U.S. military’s authority to arrest and indefinitely detain anyone, even citizens, suspected of aiding terrorists.
The Defense Authorization Bill will finally legalize the illegal practices we have been practicing as a nation for over 10 years now. Indefinite detention without due process, even for U.S. citizens.....a "world war" where no corner of the earth is immune from U.S. military attack or invasion, and an expansion of the totally bogus "war on terror" broadening it to include "supporters" of "terrorism".....and allowing the president to decide what that all means.
For those who generally support President Obama's presidency, as I do, make no mistake......it was President Obama, himself, who fought to include U.S. citizens in his indefinite detention without due process powers. It is President Obama who wanted to include U.S. citizens as possible Gitmo permanent detainees. It is President Obama who fought to include suspected U.S. citizens as potential defendants in military trials.
Listen carefully to what Carl Levin (D-MI) said from the Senate floor....
It was the "White House" who demanded the removal of language in Section 1031 of the bill which would exclude U.S. citizens from indefinite detention without civilian trials. It was President Obama, the same man who repeatedly denounced Bush/Cheney lawlessness before being elected president, who is now responsible for "legalizing" and even expanding that same lawlessness.
Signing this Defense Authorization Bill will be Obama's lowest moment as president and will surely set the stage for a future president to become a full-fledged military dictator, untethered from the clear legal restrictions outlined in the Constitution. Yet another example of how America is giving up on it's 200+ year democracy.
And so today, The Reverend has a bit of sympathy for former President Richard Nixon. You see, if Nixon could have only claimed the powers that President Obama is claiming today, he could have simply declared Daniel Ellsberg and editors of the New York Times as "enemy combatants", or "terrorists". Nixon could have had whomever his political enemies of the 70's were....picked up by military police and sent to Guantanamo or indefinitely detained without trial in some foreign hellhole of a prison...maybe even assassinated.
Watergate would have never happened and Nixon would have never had to resign the presidency.....if only he had boldly demanded the presidential powers which Obama claims today. After all, wasn't the Soviet enemy much more of a threat to the Homeland than box-cutter-wielding, stateless, Islamic extremists?
To Republicans who rejoice in my criticisms of a Democratic president....I would point out the support you gave Bush/Cheney in defending their limitless claims of power in illegally waging their contrived and bogus "war on terror." To Democratic voters who support President Obama....I would challenge any excuses offered up in defense of what is very obviously an unconstitutional power grab by this president.
And finally.....I ask all readers to give some thought to a potential Newt Gingrich presidency. A Gingrich presidency with almost limitless unilateral power to round up, incarcerate without charge or trial, and detain indefinitely in Guantanamo prison...U.S. citizens who a President Gingrich, alone, would declare to be "enemies of the state."
Oddly, all this doesn't look like "liberty" and "freedom" to me.....but one thing is for sure....Nixon would have loved it.
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