Barack in Blunderland: The Carrollian Surveillance State

barack in blunderlandYesterday, Senator Rand Paul filibustered President Barack Obama’s nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. Sounds like a normal day in the Senate, right? Wrong. Paul brought back the old-school ‘talking filibuster’ and spoke for nearly thirteen hours to protest the Obama administration’s controversial use of drones in targeted killings. You see, the junior senator from Kentucky sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder requesting clarification on the use of drones in targeted attacks against American non-combatants, and received an ambiguous reply that did not expressly rule out that option.

This sounds like something out of George Orwell’s 1984, but it’s a clear continuation of the Bush-era Patriot Act and the abrogation of civil liberties by our Constitutional lawyer-cum-president. Senator Paul himself invoked Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland to characterize the administration’s stance:

They say Lewis Carroll is fiction. Alice never fell down a rabbit hole and the White Queen’s caustic judgments are not really a threat to your security. Or has America the Beautiful become Alice’s Wonderland? …

‘No, no,’ said the queen. ‘Sentence first; Verdict afterwards.’

‘Stuff and nonsense,’ Alice said widely — loudly. ‘The idea of having the sentence first?’

‘Hold your tongue,’ said the queen, turning purple.

‘I won’t,’ said Alice.

‘Release the drones,’ said the queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice.

During the filibuster, Paul was joined by twelve Republicans and 1 Democrat. This is a disgrace. Why wasn’t there more support for our Constitutional rights from senators from BOTH sides of the aisle? Civil liberties should be a non-partisan issue. The erosion of rights to privacy, probable cause, due process, and trial by jury did not begin with President Obama, but he has done little to abate it. The president re-authorized the “roving wiretaps,” warrantless wiretapping, and e-mail monitoring of terrorism suspects under both the Patriot Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Most significantly, his National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 entitles the U.S. government to indefinitely detain American citizens without warrant or charge. Issuing a signing statement saying you have this power but won’t use it doesn’t make you a civil rights warrior… It makes you a coward.

lauren windsorBoth Eric Holder and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said today that President Obama does not have the authority to order drone strikes against Americans on American soil. This assertion is cold comfort in the increasingly Orwellian, or perhaps Carrollian, surveillance state in which we now live. Have we fallen down the rabbit hole when it comes to Big Brother? Who will lead the charge in reclaiming our Constitutional rights? Be a patriot, and #StandWithRand.

Lauren Windsor
Lady Libertine

Thursday, 6 March 2013

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Comments

  1. JoeWeinstein says

    The belated visit by an appropriately named lone extremist senator (in German the word ‘Rand’ literally means brink, rim, edge, margin, boundary, etc.) to the topic of drone-use rules (whether or not they exist, or make any sense, etc.) is only a tiny tip-of-iceberg symptom of Congress’ self-chosen subservience to and deferral to an imperial presidency.

    For Congressfolk to genuinely ‘stand with Rand’ they would have to admit that they have been the primary culprit in decades of erosion of civil liberties and constitutional balance, by their deferral to the Executive on making of wars and conduct of conflicts. Since WW2 Congress has allocated hundreds of billions of bucks and allowed commitments of hundreds of thousands of troops, lasting decades, without so much as even once abiding by the clear intent of the constitution: namely, war requires a specific Congressional declaration – i.e. a clear finding by Congress that a state of war exists, with defined enemies and for defined causes, so that Congress can then rationally and openly commit significant resources and budget and policy changes in order to cope.

    Ironically, the reason Obama is president today is that in 2008 Hillary’s clearest stand, differentiating the candidates, was her claim that as a US Senator she was (morally and even legally) obliged to defer to the president on the matter of war in Iraq – a claim utterly contradicting the constitution’s concept of separation of powers. At least back then in 2008 ordinary Dem primary voters could arguably be credited with having (narrowly) upheld the constitution and having rejected an imperial presidency.

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