“War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” — George Orwell
President Barack Obama was sworn into office for his second term this morning. While his most hardcore supporters are rejoicing, those of us who have watched our civil liberties further deteriorate are incredibly frustrated.
During his campaign in 2008, Obama tried to pass himself off as the “civil liberties candidate.” But during his first term in office, Obama has, as my colleague Jeremy Kolassa noted this morning, doubled down on many of the worst policies of his predecessor — including the PATRIOT Act and FISA — he has, in fact, expanded upon them by signing the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 that included a provision that allows for the indefinite detention of Americans, supporting drone surveillance across the United States, and the targeted killing of American citizens.
Given his record on civil liberties, it’s ironic that Obama was sworn on the anniversary of George Orwell’s death.
In his book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, Orwell, who died on January 21, 1950, wrote about a dystopian, surveillance state where Big Brother — a symbol of the Party apparatchik — wields oppressive power over its citizens under the guise of protecting them.
While we may not yet be to that point, we’re definitely headed down that slope in the United States thanks to the extraordinary measures taken by the last two presidents — George W. Bush and Obama — and Congress since 9/11. The oath taken to “protect and defend” the Constitution and Bill of Rights means very little to Obama and most members of Congress.
There are certainly those who have lived up to their promise, but most are more interested in consuming political power over the liberties that are protected under the Constitution.
As those liberties continue to be diminished in the name of protecting us, we can’t say we weren’t warned.