Obama Wins A Round in His Quest to Imprison Americans Without Trial
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“The lawyer for the American plaintiffs thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.”
It is not true that Barack Obama single-handedly destroyed the rule of law in the United States. The savaging of the Bill of Rights was, in effect, a tag team effort between Obama and his predecessor, George Bush, two presidents united in a single-minded quest to remove all barriers to the imprisonment, without trail or charge, of persons anywhere in the world, including U.S. citizens. George Bush did the initial groundwork, interpreting the 2001 congressional mandate to strike militarily against al-Qaida as giving the president the power to hold foreign prisoners without charge in Guantanamo, and, in theory, to treat American citizens the same way. But that was a stretch, and only a presidential opinion.
George Bush knew that it would be very difficult to get a preventive detention bill through Congress; Democrats would raise holy hell, and protesters would call for his head. But Barack Obama accomplished what Bush could not: On New Year’s Eve, Obama signed a preventive detention law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders. Obama had already declared the rest of the planet a killing ground.
Then, back in August, a federal district judge in New York, Katherine Forrest, slapped a temporary restraining order on preventive detention, ruling on behalf of a group of activists and journalists who said the they could be thrown in prison permanently simply for speaking or writing about groups targeted by the United States. What, precisely and under the law, constituted providing “support” for al-Qaida or related groups? Obama’s Justice Department lawyers refused to say, claiming they had not thought the question through. Clearly, President Obama, like President Bush, wanted leeway to interpret the law any way he sees fit, so he can lock up whoever he wants, whenever he wants, for whatever reason, or for no stated reason at all. But Judge Forrest wasn’t having it. On September 12, she made her injunction permanent, ruling that Obama’s preventive detention law was unconstitutional.
“Under a Black Democrat, the rule of law ceased to exist within U.S. borders.”
For less than a week, the Bill of Rights returned to U.S. soil. But, this past Monday, a federal appeals court judge put the Constitution back on hold, removing Judge Forrest’s injunction on preventive detention. The entire three-judge appeals court will begin hearing the case on September 28. Obama’s lawyers say the government needs to be allowed to detain certain prisoners without charge or trial in Afghanistan. But Bruce Afran, the lawyer for the American plaintiffs in the case, thinks Homeland Security is gearing up to make lots of arrests of U.S. citizens, in anticipation that Middle East protests will spread to American soil.
That’s the evil beauty of these Bush-Obama laws: they cut across international borders and render all the people’s of the world equal in one important respect: President Obama claims the right to kill each and every one of them, or lock them up forever, on his own say so. In that sense, Obama recognizes no legal difference between U.S. anti-war protestors and anonymous targets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, or Somalia. All of our lives and freedom are subject to the whims of an American president.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to BlackAgendaReport.com.
BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.