Are We Losing Our Constitutional Republic?
While pundits at opposite ends of the political spectrum seldom agree, many seem to have reached accord over recent Obama administration deviations from constitutional principles. The conclusion on both sides: the United States is moving precariously away from its origins as a constitutional republic and toward repressive government control of many aspects of life.
These changes, sparked perhaps by 9/11, are nonetheless uncharacteristic of a free society. In a free state, access to information is unrestricted, freedom of speech by individuals and the press is upheld, dissent is lawful, and the opinions and attitudes of citizens toward government and law enforcement do not spur investigations. Further, surveillance and investigations are limited to planned or actual criminal activity, due process is honored, and unreasonable search and seizure by government agents is unacceptable absent probable cause.
Yet, since Obama assumed the presidency in 2009, he has sought and/or instituted policies that consolidate power at the federal level, restrict the availability of information, extend the boundaries of protected speech, expand monitoring of American society and increase law enforcement's role. Just as policies that place limitations on government oversight advance the cause of freedom, the opposite is true: policies that expand the role of government stifle liberty and invite repression. A sampling of some proposed and/or established policies of the Obama administration indicates a troubling move toward a more restrictive, autocratic government.
Executive Order Empowering Interpol
On December 16, 2009, Obama officially altered President Reagan's 1983 Executive Order 12425 (EO 12425) to give Interpol, the policing arm of the International Criminal Court (ICC), carte blanche to operate with impunity on American soil. This was in contravention of restrictions put in place by Reagan to hold the international police force accountable for its actions, not unlike American law enforcement agencies, and to uphold the supremacy of the Constitution as the highest form of law in the United States.
Instead, Obama placed Interpol, whose past presidents have included members of the Nazi SS, beyond the reach of law enforcement, the FBI, and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. By signing EO 12425, Obama made all Interpol property and assets immune from search, discovery, and confiscation, affording no recourse or protection for American citizens from Interpol abuse. Thus, with Interpol above the U.S. Constitution and American law enforcement authority, U.S. citizens on American soil could potentially be secretly arrested. At a time when Islamic terrorist detainees are entitled to due process, Americans arrested by Interpol could conceivably be denied access to documents sought during the discovery process.
Curiously, the United States is not an ICC partner. In 2002, to safeguard U.S. armed forces in Afghanistan and Iraq from politically manufactured "war crimes" charges and actions, President George W. Bush removed the U.S. signature to the 1998 Rome Treaty, which created the ICC, and overturned President Clinton's signing in 2000. Still, Interpol, serving as a liaison among its 190 member states, operates within the U.S. Department of Justice through the auspices of local police departments.
DHS Report on "Right-Wing Extremism"
In 2009, Obama's Department of Homeland Security issued the report "Right-wing Extremism: Current Economic and Political Climate Fueling Resurgence in Radicalization and Recruitment." Previously, the DHS focused on specific groups engaged in violent acts. This report, however, was not based on actions or incidents perpetrated by any groups; instead, it identified the "economic downturn" as a potential catalyst for future right-wing extremist action.
Absent any actual evidence or statistics, the report cited the prospect of a "resurgence in rightwing extremist recruitment and radicalization." This assertion was based on the expression of dismay by conservative groups about the government's departure from traditional American values, the curtailment of Second-Amendment rights, and the loss of U.S. status as a global power, as well as conservative opposition to publicly funded abortions, equal status for homosexual marriages, citizenship and government assistance for illegal immigrants, and other issues.
In light of recent activities by the radical left-wing Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement, the focus of the DHS report seems ironically misplaced. The participation in OWS by radical Muslim groups, the Nazi Party, the Communist Party, the Ku Klux Klan, and a collection of left-wing extremist organizations created a level of anarchy that led to violence, sexual assaults, pilfering, spread of disease, child abuse, and other dangerous and depraved behavior. The White House, Democratic politicians like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, the unions, and Hollywood celebrities have all embraced this licentious movement while tarring and feathering the orderly, focused, and respectful TEA (Taxed Enough Already) Party activists who operate within the confines of the law to lobby for lower taxes and smaller government. With the OWS movement record of close to 6,000 arrests, public defecations -- including on police cars and in banks -- the terrorizing of businesses and motorists, attacks on police, public masturbation, illegal drug use, the pimping of children as well as the use of children as human shields, and other depravities, the DHS effort seems like a politically motivated, misguided witch hunt.
Access to Information
In October, the Department of Justice (DOJ) proposed revised FOIA rules to allow federal agencies to lie about the existence of documents to those seeking certain sensitive records. This revision, withdrawn due to public outcry, would have permitted government agencies to deviate from the current policy under which they must cite a relevant reason or exemption from releasing documents, thus providing an arguable legal basis for the denied party to pursue in court. Had the proposed FOIA revision gone through and the very existence of information been denied, the possibility of a lawsuit would have been removed as a potential avenue for obtaining the requested data.
Former federal Justice Department attorney J. Christian Adams exposes more about the radical agenda of the Obama Justice Department in his recent book Injustice. Adams writes that the DOJ logs clearly indicate a liberal bias in responses to FOIA requests. Right-leaning FOIA requestors receive no reply or endure lengthy wait times -- from four to six months -- while left-leaning FOIA requestors typically receive information within three days.
Meanwhile, federal agencies, who work closely with the Muslim Brotherhood, have been sanitizing counterterrorism training programs for federal and local law enforcement to exclude references to Islamic terrorism and to marginalize and defame recognized experts on Islamic doctrine. All official materials that expose the truth about jihad have been censored in favor of generic information on "violent extremism." Telling the truth about Islamic ideology and accurately examining the contents of Islamic doctrine (even as explained by esteemed Muslim clerics) is now redefined as Islamophobic or hate speech. These revised programs hide the truth about jihad in Islam and liken an entrenched 1,400-year-old supremacist ideology to the battle against gangs and drugs.
Further, the U.S. Army recently published a "cultural literacy" handbook for soldiers. This new publication whitewashes jihad, calling it the "communal military defense of Islam and Muslims when they are threatened or under attack." Jihad is also explained as "an everyday spiritual and moral struggle to live a life submitted to G-d" or "the attempt to spread Islam by education and example." This shamefully irresponsible misrepresentation of Islamic doctrine condemns American soldiers serving in Muslim countries to ignorance with potentially deadly consequences. It represents yet another way the U.S. government under Obama is controlling information content and access.
The Obama administration has given the Department of Homeland Security the power to monitor the social media activities and online networking platforms of journalists and to retain the data for up to five years. In other words, the federal government is setting a dangerous precedent with serious First Amendment implications by using taxpayer dollars in the surveillance of those who write news for the public. Any reporter from anchor to blogger can be scrutinized under the current regulations. Since 2010, the DHS has monitored popular websites, including news, social media, blogs, forums, and message boards. Two recently proposed bills -- the Stop Online Privacy Act and the Protect IP Act -- could potentially give the DOJ broad new powers to police the internet.
UNHRC - Istanbul Process
Last month, the United States approved adoption of the U.N. Human Rights Commission (UNHRC)'s Resolution 16/18, an initiative of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a confederacy of 57 Islamic states. The OIC has long endeavored to limit speech that defames religion, and Islam in particular. This resolution, initially proposed to stem alleged but virtually nonexistent discrimination of Muslims post-9/11, places limitations on critical speech, which is protected by the U.S. Constitution. Resolution 16/18 includes measures to criminalize "incitement to imminent violence based on religion or belief" but doesn't specify who decides what constitutes "imminent violence" and whose violence is punishable. It also fails to address the persecution of Jews and Christians in Muslim countries and the prevention of the horrific Muslim killing sprees that followed the publication of the Mohammed cartoons and the Koran-burnings, both legally protected activities under the First Amendment.
As part of his entreaty for the passage of the Resolution 16/18, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Turkish Muslim head of the OIC, issued a veiled threat implying that the failure to act against religious "hate speech" would result in acts of Islamic terrorism. It appears that the overriding purpose of the resolution is to limit and criminalize criticism of Islam. The resolution also would place the blame for terrorist attacks on its victims for their non-compliance with Islamic doctrine or sharia, which prohibits criticism of Islam under threat of death. The UNHRC resolution contains a measure to counter religious profiling which could hamper American law enforcement efforts to apprehend Islamic terrorists. It is indeed alarming that the Obama administration would entertain a policy that clearly places limits on free speech and imposes de facto sharia.
In all the examples detailed above, Obama is signaling a significant departure from our founding constitutional principles. If this represents a slippery slope toward an increasingly authoritarian regime in America, only time will tell. But we would be wise to head the words of Thomas Jefferson, our nation's third president and the author of the Declaration of Independence: "The price of freedom is eternal vigilance." Americans would be remiss to fail in vigilance and ignore these alarming trends.