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At the President’s Twitter Townhall, #AskObama About His Pathetic & Disgusting Civil Liberties Record

6:23 am in Uncategorized by Kevin Gosztola

*Update:For my report on the Twitter town hall event, go here.

President Barack Obama will be participating in a first-ever Twitter @townhall event. The town hall, moderated by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, is to be limited to discussion of jobs and the economy.

Effectively limiting the discussion to jobs and the economy leaves out an array of issues on the state of freedom, justice and liberty in America that warrant conversation. Should we the people really allow the White House to limit this discussion to just the economy?

The Obama Administration came in pledging to be different than the Bush Administration. It has continued and expanded on many of the Bush Administration “war on terrorism” policies, which effectively shredded the Constitution and eroded American civil liberties. President Obama has been outright atrocious when it comes to protecting American civil liberties and so bad it is no longer clear that he is the lesser evil when compared to former President George W. Bush.

Here are some questions that he should be made to address at the town hall to be held at 2 pm ET:

The Justice Dept has been sending letters indicating state laws may not override federal law on medical marijuana.

#AskObama What’s your position on state moves to decriminalize marijuana so it can be used for medicinal purposes?

Or, to frame the question in terms of jobs and the economy:

#AskObama: What’s your position on growing the economy and increasing jobs by further decriminalizing medicinal marijuana production & use?

Illinois recently recalled and abolished the death penalty.

#AskObama Would you like to see more states follow in the footsteps of Illinois and pass their own legislation to abolish the death penalty?

President George W. Bush admits he authorized waterboarding or torture against detainees as president.

#AskObama Why should US not fulfill legal obligation under Torture Convention & investigate & prosecute fmr Bush officials for torture?

You  missed the deadline for closing Guantanamo.

#AskObama What plans, if any, does your administration have to shut down Guantanamo? Do you still plan to shut it down?

#AskObama While demonstrating interest in closing Guantanamo, you have embraced policy of indefinite detention for detainees. Why?

Your administration’s statistics show the “Secure Communities” initiative invites racial profiling and leads to deportations of people who have committed no crimes or very minor offenses.

#AskObama Why have you ignored law enforcement and political leaders’ concerns on the “Secure Communities” program?

Your administration has deported 779,000 people, more than President George W. Bush’s last two years in office. ICE apparently has a mandate of deportation of 400,000 individuals per year.

#AskObama Why should ICE’s dragnet enforcement that is tearing apart immigrant families in America be acceptable or tolerated?

On same-sex marriage:

#AskObama Why do you think same-sex marriage is a states’ rights issue & why do you seem afraid to become moral leader on this issue?

More and more state legislatures are pushing laws that require drug testing for individuals to be drug tested if they receive public assistance.

#AskObama Do you think it is fair that more & more state are requiring drug testing in order to receive public assistance?

On the continued mass incarceration of people in America, especially people of color:

#AskObama US has 25% of world’s prison population. Are you concerned about mass incarceration of people in America & what should be done?

Government is employing more and more technology, which enables surveillance of US citizens. Police powers are being expanded, with the US Supreme Court often coming down on the side of law enforcement’s efforts make their job easier by not having to be concerned with citizens’ civil liberties.

#AskObama Should citizens abandon expectations of Fourth Amendment rights in the 21st Century?

Hot watches, cell phone tracking, x-ray vans that can see through walls or people’s clothing, etc are new methods of surveillance being used on citizens.

#AskObama Do citizens have a right to know if and when they are under government surveillance & should they?

The PATRIOT Act recently had three key provisions extended.

#AskObama As a constitutional professor, do any parts of the PATRIOT Act concern you any longer?

A religious rights issue:

#AskObama When does your administration plan to make changes to terrorism financing laws so they don’t unfairly target Muslims?

State legislatures around the country are stripping women of their right to an abortion. Some recent state laws are so extreme that they outright degrade and humiliate women, who dare to consider exercising their right to choose.

#AskObama What kind of leadership on reproductive freedom issues does your administration plan to show, if any?

There are currently antiwar and international solidarity activists under investigation by a federal grand jury based in your hometown of Chicago.

#AskObama How do you think your administration has done when it comes to protecting the right to dissent? #stopfbi

Also:

#AskObama Do you find it acceptable that the State Dept would like to criminalize US citizens delivering aid to Gaza? #flotilla2

You tremendously failed (and perhaps tainted the case) the last time this question was asked of you. So, I know you might be afraid to answer, but give it another shot. I’ll even ask about him in a different way.

#AskObama Why do you think Bradley Manning, if he did release classified info, isn’t military whistleblower protected under law? #WikiLeaks

And, finally:

#AskObama Why is your administration prosecuting war on whistleblowing & going after people like Thomas Drake, James Risen?

A Congress Unwilling to Exercise Its War Powers

10:09 am in Government by Kevin Gosztola

Dueling resolutions from Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and Democratic House Representative Dennis Kucinich sparked a debate in Congress. The debate centered around the War Powers Act, the US Constitution and whether President Obama had violated the law by taking the United States into a war in Libya.

The Kucinich Resolution (H.R. Con. Res. 251) aimed to direct the president, pursuant to the War Powers Act, to remove all troops from Libya within fifteen days after the resolution was adopted. It was an attempt to force Congress to exercise the authority that it has under the Constitution to decide when and where troops are deployed for wars and whether or not wars should be launched.

In contrast, the Boehner Resolution (H.R. Con. Res. 292) was offered by Speaker Boehner to take the wind out of the sails of the growing bipartisan movement, consisting of anti-war Democrats and anti-interventionist Republicans, who were ready to assert Congress’ legislative authority and oppose the further expansion of the Executive by the Obama Administration that has taken place as a result of the Libya War.

The resolution brought by Rep. Kucinich failed 148-265. Speaker Boehner’s resolution passed 268-145.

The passage effectively stymied Rep. Kucinich’s genuine attempt to bring an end to the shirking of constitutional responsibilities in matters of war and peace in Congress. It aimed to halt the operations that had been initiated by the Obama Administration without congressional approval. But, as evidenced by the debate, despite the near unanimous recognition that seventy-seven days into the war the Obama Administration has the US embroiled in an illegal war and Congress has abdicated its responsibility, the majority of representatives in the House were reluctant to actually exercise the authority, which the Constitution grants them.

Representatives, who understood the weight of the moment, attempted to reason and convince a servile and overwhelmingly deferential majority that there needed to be action. They called out Speaker Boehner for offering a resolution that sidestepped the responsibility Congress is supposed to uphold.
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