Obama: A Legacy of Ashes
James Corbett (2017)
In his excellent documentary about Obama’s presidency, James Corbett highlights important ways in which Obama systematically reduced civil liberties and democratic oversight of government.
- After promising to end George W Bush’s de facto lawmaking via unconstitutional signing statements, Obama far signing statements than his predecessor.
- He repeatedly inserted text into bills without informing lawmakers before they voted on them.
- After promising to end the role of lobbyists in running government, he allowed Citibank to select his cabinet and the insurance lobby to write The Affordable Care Act.
- While claiming to run the most transparent administration in history, he set a record for denying Freedom of Information Act requests and prosecuting whistleblowers.
- Despite promising to end illegal wiretapping and spying on activists, he greatly increased routine NSA surveillance of ordinary citizens. He also introduced legislation repealing Posse Comitatus* and authorizing indefinite detention of American citizens without trial. And issued an executive order granting himself the power (which he exercised liberally) to arbitrarily assassinate his enemies, including US citizens.
Obama was also the only president in history who was continuously at war during his entire eight years in office.** All but two (which he inherited from Bush) were illegal and unconstitutional wars he launched without government approval.
I was intrigued to learn the Patriot Act (enacted by the Bush administration after 9-11) was originally written by Obama’s vice president Joe Biden in 1995.
*The 1878 Posse Comitatus Act prohibited the US government using federal troops in domestic law enforcement, except in circumstances expressly authorized by the US Constitution.
**In addition to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (which candidate Obama promised to end), he launched illegal wars of aggression in Libya, Syria, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen.