Noam Chomsky: Obamaís Attack on Civil Liberties Has Gone Way Beyond Imagination
2013-05-01 0:00

By Mike Stivers | AlterNet

Under Obamaís administration, if you meet with someone in a terrorist group and advise them to turn to nonviolent means, then thatís material assistance to terrorism.

Mike Stivers: Anyone following issues of civil liberties under Obama knows that his administrationís policies have been disastrous. The signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively legalizes indefinite detention of US citizens, the prosecution of more whistleblowers than any previous president, the refusal to close Guantanamo, and the adoption of ruthless positions in trials such as Hedges vs. Obama and Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project donít even encapsulate the full extent of the flagrant violations of civil, political and constitutional rights. One basic question that a lot of people seem to be asking is, why? Whatís the rationale?

Noam Chomsky: Thatís a very interesting question. I personally never expected anything of Obama, and wrote about it before the 2008 primaries. I thought it was smoke and mirrors. The one thing that did surprise me is his attack on civil liberties. They go well beyond anything I would have anticipated, and they donít seem easy to explain. In many ways the worst is what you mention,  Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project. Thatís an Obama initiative and itís a very serious attack on civil liberties. He doesnít gain anything from it Ė he doesnít get any political mileage out of it. In fact, most people donít even know about it, but what it does is extend the concept of "material assistance to terror" to speech.

The case in question was a law group that was giving legal advice to groups on the terrorist list, which in itself has no moral or legal justification; itís an abomination. But if you look at the way itís been used, it becomes even more abhorrent ( Nelson Mandela was on it until a couple of years ago.) And the wording of the colloquy is broad enough that it could very well mean that if, say, you meet with someone in a terrorist group and advise them to turn to nonviolent means, then thatís material assistance to terrorism. Iíve met with people who are on the list and will continue to do so, and Obama wants to criminalize that, which is a plain attack on freedom of speech. I just donít understand why heís doing it.

The NDAA suit, of which Iím a plaintiff - it mostly codifies existing practice. While there has been some protest over the indefinite detention clause, thereís one aspect of it that Iím not entirely happy with. The only protest thatís being raised is in response to detention of American citizens, but I donít see why we should have the right to detain anyone without trial. The provision of the NDAA that allows for this should not be tolerated. It was banned almost eight centuries ago in the Magna Carta.

Itís the same with the drone killings. There was some protest over the Anwar Al-Awlaki killing because he was an American citizen. But what about someone who isnít an American citizen? Do we have a right to murder them if the president feels like it?


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Related: Noam Chomsky - Controlled Asset Of The New World Order

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