As Donald Trump issues executive orders one after another, a list of gifts Barak Obama left for Trump in the form of vast new powers Trump can now use as he pleases has been compiled by a Twitter user who goes by @onekade, a Twitter page that links to the ACLU of Massachusetts blog. Glenn Greenwald often retweets these posts and so tacitly endorses their veracity.
These expanded executive powers, which no president should have and which give a president unprecedented power to spy on US citizens, wage war without congressional approval and even provide a legal framework a president could use to implement a police state, all were put in place without protest from the Democratic Party establishment or from any Democratic Party aligned NGO or interest group, as when a Democrat is in office they sit on their hands. The media didn't say much about them either. We only know of these power grabs because of the vigilance of the most radical and well informed of what has become a very small true Left in this country.
The sad irony is that Republicans can rarely if ever get this kind of stuff passed. When they try, as we've seen in the early days of the Trump administration, opposition rises up immediately. But while Barak Obama was instituting these radical power grabs over the course of his eight years in office and submitting budgets every year that cut federal spending, and did so by cutting social programs, how many protests were called for? What Democrat office holder said something? The answers are none and none.
Consider the huge women's marches the day after Trump took office. Then consider that during Obama's eight years of the record transfer of wealth upward, and the erosion of our freedoms as listed below, he got a free pass from the entire Liberal establishment and from everyone who was out there marching. Not only that the same people were begging for more of the same from Hillary Clinton.
Obama's gifts to Donald Trump include:
- The power to kill US citizens without due process.
- An executive army outside the chain of command that reports directly to the president. This existed before, but Obama continued it and greatly expanded it. It can do things the CIA can't even do and almost no one knows it exists.
- The most powerful surveillance apparatus in the world.
- A nationwide gulag archipelago of immigration detention centers where children and families are mistreated. Most are privately owned.
- An FBI emboldened to persecute Muslims for speech and thought crimes under the guise of "protecting the homeland."
- State and local police departments neatly woven into the ever growing national security state and armed to the teeth.
- Federal agents accustomed to violating civil rights and civil liberties,
and Department of Justice lawyers well practiced in defending those violations.
- A robust state secrets doctrine.
- The precedent of using the "national security" exception as a legal argument practically every time the federal government is challenged in the courts. And Obama, remember, was a constitutional lawyer.
- Bipartisan legitimization of the "forever war," aka the War on Terror. At 15 years and counting it's the longest war in our history. Obama shifted the legal basis for it so that future presidents no longer need congressional approval for its perpetual renewal.
- A CIA unpunished for its Bush era war crimes and empowered to run a global murder machine of its own design.
- Domestic law authorizing government propaganda targeting US citizens.
- Domestic law authorizing the indefinite detention of suspects without trial.
- Law making it easier for the Secret Service to arrest protesters. I don't know if you noticed but some 200 protesters were arrested on inauguration day and charged with felonies, making them, if convicted, ineligible to vote.
- Nationwide information sharing and face recognition systems amounting to the end of anonymity in public. And exempt from privacy laws, as are a host of other new laws that erode our constitutional right to privacy.
- Legitimization of the idea that seeking privacy is suspicious activity. If you use Skype, or try to protect your privacy on the internet by using things like TOR, you are on one of many, now, kinds of terrorist watch lists.
- Legitimization of the idea that the FBI should be able to crack all encryption. This link is to Obama explaining that the only way law enforcement can do its job now is if they can hack into anything and everything. Which is not how the constitution laid it out and not how our courts have always said the balance between law enforcement and privacy should be. You might as well cancel the entire Bill of Rights and toss out 230 years worth of Supreme Court decisions.
- Secret law. The Obama Department of Justice argued for and got from the courts more power to keep secret its legal justifications for what it was doing; one instance has to do with the legal memo that describes the FBI's surveillance powers. No one can see it so no one knows what the FBI can and can't legally do.
"Ultimately," the anonymous poster says, "the worst thing Obama did was normalize the forever war, the permanent state of emergency, the garrison state. A gift to Trump. I could go on and on with these examples all night, but my phone is getting hot in my hands and I need a beer. Resist now. It'll get worse."
"If you've read this thread and now feel hopeless, don't. Instead take the fight against these policies to your local police department. Get your local elected leadership to impose rules on the police. Don't let them conduct suspicionless investigations or surveillance.'
"Don't let them share info with the FBI unless it directly relates to suspicion of violation of federal laws. Require robust transparency."
"Require a public process for all surveillance equipment and information sharing system acquisitions. Require democratic approval of these."
"Require the police to produce policies to govern each type of surveillance equipment and info sharing system. Require robust oversight. Demand that your state DMV not share its drivers license image database with federal authorities. Require warrants for info sharing."
"Any bad policy or procedure currently in use was created by people. We, other people, can change these policies and procedures. Dismantling the national security state can only work if we the people do it from the ground up. Lawyers will sue the agencies up top."