As I revealed in an article that went viral in 2009, Obama's DoD was instructing all of its employees that protest = "low-level terrorism." This was, unfortunately, not an error or an aberration but actually an explicit statement about what neoliberal regimes around the world have moved to doing: treating free speech and free assembly as a form of terrorism and treating the people's entreaties and supervision over authority as criminal. In December 2011, for example, the London City Police sent to businesses an advisory entitled: "Terrorism/Extremism update for the City of London Business Community" that lumped Occupy London together with al-Qaeda and other foreign-based terrorist groups, and dedicated their discussion of "Domestic" terrorist activities entirely to Occupy, saying, in part, "As the worldwide Occupy movement shows no sign of abating, it is likely that activists aspire to identify other locations to occupy, especially those they identify with capitalism."
Indefinite and "Preventive" Detention, Surveillance, and Whistleblowers
In an article that will be appearing next week in the online journal State of Nature ("Secrecy, Surveillance, and Suppression: Neoliberalism and the Rise of Public Order Policies"), my co-author and I write:
"[O]n May 21, 2009 at the National Archives Museum, Obama declared that he would continue to hold certain individuals in indefinite detention, even if they had been exonerated in a trial or could not be prosecuted because the evidence against them was tainted by torture. In doing this, Obama's exceptional facility with language on behalf of empire stands out:
"'We are going to exhaust every avenue that we have to prosecute those at Guantanamo who pose a danger to our country. But even when this process is complete, there may be a number of people who cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but who nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States. Examples of that threat include people who have received extensive explosives training at al Qaeda training camps, commanded Taliban troops in battle, expressed their allegiance to Osama bin Laden, or otherwise made it clear that they want to kill Americans. These are people who, in effect, remain at war with the United States.
"'As I said, I am not going to release individuals who endanger the American people. Al Qaeda terrorists and their affiliates are at war with the United States, and those that we capture - like other prisoners of war - must be prevented from attacking us again. However, we must recognize that these detention policies cannot be unbounded. That is why my Administration has begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law. We must have clear, defensible and lawful standards for those who fall in this category. We must have fair procedures so that we don't make mistakes. We must have a thorough process of periodic review, so that any prolonged detention is carefully evaluated and justified.' (Emphases added).
"While introducing a breathtakingly outrageous and explicit violation of due process -- and thus the rule of law that he claims to be upholding - and in so doing going further than even Bush dared, Obama frames it in such a way as to make it sound both entirely reasonable and legal (we have 'begun to reshape these standards to ensure they are in line with the rule of law') and wraps himself firmly in the flag and within the camp of the greatest patriots who want more than anything to protect Americans' lives.
"In colloquial speech: Obama gets to have his cake and eat it too. To uncover the deceitfulness of this passage in his speech would require a) a willingness on the part of mainstream media to call a sitting president out on this egregious and extremely disturbing express violation of the law and civil liberties, b) the intellectual ability to recognize what he is doing and its subtleties, and c) the courage to stand up against it in the face of the certain bombast of the Republican Party, Fox News et al, Democrats, and the rest of the mainstream media who would condemn you as an appeaser of those who want to harm the U.S.
Regarding both his claims of transparency and his respect for and defense of the interests of the people, see this further excerpt from the forthcoming State of Nature article:
"One of Obama's 2008 campaign promises was to bring transparency to governmental decision-making processes. In his platform he promised with respect to international agreements: 'We will not negotiate bilateral trade agreements that stop the government from protecting the environment, food safety, or the health of its citizens; [or] give greater rights to foreign investors than to U.S. investors.'
"In June 2012 Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch posted online a section of the leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) between the U.S. and eight Pacific nations. In it the U.S. negotiator, appointed by Obama, was and is negotiating an agreement in which a parallel international court to that of national government's courts and governments would be created, the members of which would be selected by the corporations themselves, which could overrule any national or local rules regarding labor practices or resource management (such as pollution and renewable energy practices) and award monetary damages to the corporations from national treasuries should corporate profits be adversely impacted by those rules.
As described by Lori Wallach, Director of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch,
"'Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the trade committee in the Senate, the committee with jurisdiction over the TPP, has been denied access to the text, as has his staff, who has security clearance, to a point where this man who has supported agreements like this in the past has filed legislation demanding he have the right to see the agreement that he's supposed to be having oversight with. He's on the Intelligence Committee, and he has security clearance, so he can see our nuclear secrets. He just can't see this corporate bill of rights that is trying to be slipped into effect in the name of being a trade agreement. It's a very elegant Trojan horse strategy. You brand it one thing, and then you put an agenda that could not survive sunshine into this agreement.'
In this same interview, Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! asked Wallach to comment on the Obama Administration's statement about its transparency regarding the TPP:
"AMY GOODMAN: I want to read part of the comment we got from the U.S.U.S. trade representative's office when we invited them on today's show. They wrote, quote, 'The Obama Administration has infused unprecedented transparency into the TPP negotiations. We have worked with Members of Congress ... [and] invited stakeholders to every round of negotiations where they have given presentations and met with individual negotiating teams. ... We are always looking for ways to enhance provisions on transparency and public participation.' Lori Wallach, your comment?
"LORI WALLACH: Well, to start with, the idea of transparency of the current negotiators is a one-way mirror. We can basically talk to them and do presentations. But as this leak shows, nothing that the public interest organizations--and it's a huge array of organizations, from faith groups to consumer groups, environmental, labor--nothing that we have said is now reflected in the U.S.U.S. position in this negotiation, which I'm sad to say is the most extreme. I mean, the U.S.U.S. is even opposing proposals in this agreement to try and make sure countries have the ability to use financial regulation to ensure financial stability. The U.S.U.S. positions don't reflect what we've been saying, but we can talk at them."