Obama’s Terrible Civil Liberties Record | Dispatches from the Culture Wars:
I would rate Obama worse than Bush on every relevant subject other than torture (he did prohibit torture, at least officially, though he is just as bad, maybe worse on applying the rule of law in cases of torture), for two reasons. First, because his support for those policies all but eliminated even the mild objections to the growing national surveillance state among Democrats. The civil liberties groups — the ACLU, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, etc. — have remained admirably consistent, as have fringe members of Congress like Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul, but the rank and file in Congress quickly lost any appetite for trying to limit the damage when Obama took office (and Democratic leaders in Congress like Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi and Dianne Feinstein were complicit in the demise of civil liberties from the start). With Bush in office, there was at least some tacit resistance, though never enough to stop the onward march of executive power; with Obama in office, there is a clear bipartisan consensus against the Bill of Rights.
Second, because Obama knows better. As a constitutional scholar, something Bush could barely pronounce, he knows the damage he is doing. He knew that the FISA amendments were extremely corrosive to the rule of law and the cause of justice when he threatened to filibuster the bill if it included telecom immunity; he threw principle under the bus when he instead voted for the bill without protest. He knew that the use of the State Secrets Privilege to deny the victims of torture and illegal surveillance made the separation of powers all but obsolete and ended the rule of law when it comes to executive power because he said so himself repeatedly when Bush was asserting it. Since taking office, he has done the very thing he criticized in every single legal challenge to what is now his own essentially limitless authority.
[As I’ve been saying all along. The Dems are as bad as the Repubs, they only *think* they don’t stink as much. My position remains that both major parties need significant opposition. Or as as Howard Rappaport said “lt ain’t unicorns farting rainbows, folks.”]