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Obama’s change: From kidnapping and torture to assassination

Published time: January 02, 2012 06:17
Edited time: January 03, 2012 04:43

U.S. President Barack Obama/REUTERS/Larry Downing

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The promise to scrap his predecessor’s hardliner war-on-terror policies, which helped Barack Obama win presidential election, is apparently off the table. The political reality is that the current administration is doing quite the opposite thing.

Long before he became US president or the winner of a Noble Peace Prize, Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor. During his election campaign he vowed to reverse the abuses and policies of his predecessor George W. Bush.

Three years later, many civil rights advocates, who once cheered “yes, we can,” are finding themselves disillusioned.

“Not only has the Obama administration blocked torture accountability and refused to investigate and prosecute. He has basically maintained indefinite detention. He has revived military commissions. As well he has expanded targeted killings – they’ve increased under the Obama administration manifold, and he’s even authorized the killing of a US citizen,” explains Maria LaHood from the Center for Constitutional Rights.

World-renowned author and scholar Noam Chomsky believes the Obama administration has changed gears and accelerated illegal practices into overdrive.

“There is a shift between Bush’s policies and the Obama’s on this. Bush’s policy was to kidnap people, take them to Guantanamo or Bagram or some other torture chamber and try to extract some information from them. Obama’s policy is just to kill them. They’re killing them all over the world. And the Bin Laden assassination was a case point,” he told RT.

Another was the drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born cleric. President Obama described the man as “the leader of external operations for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.”

Apart from those two are hundreds more killed by US UAVs. The number of drone strikes during the first two years under Obama exceeded the total carried out during Bush’s 10 years.

“If a President McCain were doing the exact same thing that President Obama is doing, he would have been denounced by a lot of liberals. It’s one of those dangerous moments in the US history. We saw it a bit with Clinton in the 1990s, where a democrat campaigned and pledged to change the country and the world has actually pushed the right-wing agenda further forward than a republican could have if they took the power,” says New York-based journalist and author Jeremy Scahill.

As Obama gears up for his re-election campaign, civil liberties groups that believed his words the first time around are now left to judge the commander-in-chief on his actions.

­‘US wars are forms of absolute terror’

­Sara Flounders, from the International Action Center, told RT that the new bill violates basic the democratic rights the US claims to fight for around the world.

“There is the threat of mass detention without trial, without charges, being held by the US military, who previously could not legally operate within the US, only around the world.”

The US claims it speaks for democracy and, human rights around the world, says Flounders, but in reality US wars are forms of absolute terror.

“There is no other way of explaining secret rendition, torture, kidnapping, targeted assassinations, drone attacks on countries with which the US is not even in a declared war,” she believes, adding that this comes at a time of new struggles in the US.

“It comes at a time when there has been a mass movement – Occupy Wall Street – in more than a hundred cities across the country, and every one of those Occupy movements was shut down illegally by the police.”

Flounders points out that President Obama has broken the pledges he made, like the one to shut down Guantanamo, and has turned out to be even more reactionary, promising more wars and expanding the US agenda abroad and “against the rights of working people here at home.”

“And all this is in a time of great economic crisis and hardships for millions of people here, a huge capitalist meltdown of the economy,”
the analyst stressed.