civil liberties

Judge Napolitano slams Obama over secret “kill list”

The New York Times recently reported that President Barack Obama keeps a secret “kill list” of terror suspects. Given the uproar during the last several months over the NDAA, which allows for the indefinite detention of terror suspects, even those captured inside the United States, such a list is sure to send a chill down the spine of civil liberties advocates.

While apologists for Obama and neoconservatives will argue that this is part of the war on terrorism and claim legality for his actions due to the UAMF, Judge Andrew Napolitano recently explained that Obama’s “kill list” is blatanty unconstitutional:

We have known for some time that President Obama is waging a private war. By that I mean he is using the CIA on his own — and not the military after congressional authorization — to fire drones at thousands of persons in foreign lands, usually while they are riding in a car or a truck. He has done this both with the consent and over the objection of the governments of the countries in which he has killed. He doesn’t want to talk about this, but he doesn’t deny it. How chilling is it that David Axelrod — the president’s campaign manager — has periodically seen the secret kill list? Might this be to keep the killings politically correct?

Can the president legally do this? In a word: No.

Your World In Pictures

Visual media is a powerful way to spread a message. In the modern era of the Internet, we’ve learned this quite well—there are entire websites devoted to silly images that absorb you entirely. In the spirit of the 21st century, then, I want to offer some images that I feel sum up our modern age. Let me know if you agree, and add your own suggestions in the comments.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is your world in pictures. And this is why those of us out here who can see this decide to fight.





How can you not see the madness?

Andrew Sullivan: Tea Party opposes Obama because he’s black

Yesterday, Andrew Sullivan, a conservative turned liberal, wrote a post criticising the Tea Party movement for standing by while George W. Bush broke the bank only to protest Barack Obama for his spending measures. According to Sullivan, this isn’t based on disagreement with Obama for his big spending ways, rather the fact that he is black:

[T[he Tea Party, utterly indifferent to massive spending in good times by a Republican, had a conniption at a black Democrat’s modest measures to limit the worst downturn since the 1930s. Conniption isn’t really he right word: this was a cultural and political panic in the face of a president who was advocating what were only recently Republican policies: tax cuts, Romneycare on a national level, cap-and-trade, a W-style immigration reform, and a relentless war on Jihadism. They reached back to a time, when there were only three kinds of Americans - native, white and slaves. They even wore powdered wigs.

While I don’t necessarily disagree that conservative opposition to immigration reform is based on more than public policy, I completely disagree that the Tea Party movement opposes Obama’s policies just because he is black.

I don’t disagree that Bush was a fiscal nightmare, and it’s my belief that he set the Republican Party back several years. And shortly after the Tea Party movement started in early 2009, I criticized them for not calling out Bush’s spending spree.

Indefinite Detention and the NDAA

Should our government be able to indefinitely detain and deny a trial to American citizens suspected of a crime? Given the Constitutional guarantee of due process, that question could seem a bit absurd. Yet late last year the House and Senate gave us new provisions in the NDAA, one of which is the allowance of indefinite detention of American citizens.

This isn’t some heavy handed attack on freedom levied by the Democrats. It’s not even some measure that passed narrowly in the House before Harry Reid forced it on us in the Senate. No, this attack on freedom carries much bipartisan support. Both Republicans and Democrats support this insanity.

You can see the House’s roll call on the 2012 NDAA here and the Senate’s roll call on it here.

Last month I wrote a piece about Justin Amash, the Congressman from Michigan who is fighting to fix the indefinite detention provisions in the NDAA. Amash has been outspoken on this issue, and his time to fight is coming soon.

The answer to Amash’s concerns over the 2012 NDAA was to reinforce habeas corpus “for any person who is detained in the United States.” Though that sounds pretty good, Amash addresses this answer in a letter to his Republican colleagues:

Is CISPA the new SOPA?

The short answer to that is probably no, especially with recent amendments that have been added to address some of the privacy and civil liberty concerns.

Here is a write-up that details how things were looking at the first of the week.

And here is a more recent article that mentions the amendments and privacy concerns.

A few things from my perspective: Hats off to Obama who had said that he would definitely veto this bill as it stood without the amendments. And kudos to Ron Paul and several Democrats who really started to raise a stink about this, but most of all, this is another example of the People’s power by voicing their concerns and contacting their representation. This thing hasn’t been as big as the SOPA protests in January, but still—it’s nice to see.

Of course, this thing still sucks even with the amendments…we don’t need it, in my opinion. Let’s keep their feet to the fire. Contact your Representative immediately. It is scheduled to hit the House on Friday.

TSA searches 3-year old in a wheelchair

We’ve all seen the videos of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officers searching seniors and small children, but a video from O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is about as disgusting as it gets.

While going through the security checkpoint, TSA apparently felt the need to screen a 3-year old, who was in a wheelchair due to a broken leg, to make sure that he wasn’t some sort of terrorist.

The video is from 2010, but it’s absurd nonetheless:

The father of the boy, who apparently uploaded the video to YouTube, writes, “My little boy wanted me to come over to hold his hand and give him a hug. He was trembling with fear. I was told I could NOT touch him or come near him during this process. Instead we had to pretend this was ‘ok’ so he didn’t panic.”

Incidents like this most likely happen everyday, but we don’t see them. This is insane, yet the TSA insists that they are doing this for our protection. It’s sickening, and unfortunately, it’s not going to stop anytime soon.

H/T: Reason

Living the dystopian dream

Like many libertarians, I’m a huge fan of science fiction.  In particular, I love reading about dystopian futures.  I don’t know why, I just always have.

I’magine a story where the President of the United States can not be criticized to his face.  You are no longer allowed to voice your opinions within earshot of the president because the Secret Service can designate any area as being off limits for your First Amendment rights.  Let’s say the main character of the story does it anyways, in an act of civil disobedience, along with many of his friends.  They tell the sitting president that if he doesn’t start doing right, they will spend every waking minute to get him booted out of office.

The group is arrested for a felony because they violated the Secret Service’s orders, but because they used “intimidation” in the process, they’re called terrorists and packed off without due process and held indefinitely.

At the turn of the century, this would have sounded so far fetched that no one would have believed the story, and it would have failed. Good stories have to be believable after all, so a story on this kind of premise would be called “unsellable”.

Today, we call it “current events”.

Pat Robertson: Marijuana should be treated like alcohol

Pat Robertson, the televangelist and host of The 700 Club, made waves last week when he said that marijuana should be legalized and treated like alcohol and also expressed his support for ballot measures in states that would decriminalize its usage:

[Robertson] first became a self-proclaimed “hero of the hippie culture” in 2010 when he called for ending mandatory prison sentences for marijuana possession convictions.

“I just think it’s shocking how many of these young people wind up in prison and they get turned into hardcore criminals because they had a possession of a very small amount of a controlled substance,” Robertson said on his show March 1. “The whole thing is crazy. We’ve said, ‘Well, we’re conservatives, we’re tough on crime.’ That’s baloney.”
“I really believe we should treat marijuana the way we treat beverage alcohol,” Robertson was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “If people can go into a liquor store and buy a bottle of alcohol and drink it at home legally, then why do we say that the use of this other substance is somehow criminal?”

Robertson said he “absolutely” supports ballot measures in Colorado and Washington state that would allow people older than 21 to possess a small amount of marijuana and allow for commercial pot sales. Both measures, if passed by voters, would place the states at odds with federal law, which bans marijuana use of all kinds.

Dennis Kucinich falls in Ohio

The Congressional career of Dennis Kucinich came to an abrupt end on Tuesday night as he became one of the first victims of redistricting in 2012.  With his district eliminated, he was forced to run against 15-term incumbent Representative Marcy Kaptur.  Kucinich never had much of a chance, losing handily.

Kucinich has long been one of the most interesting members of the House, if only because he was someone who actually seemed to have principles. He was known for taking positions that often raised the ire of not only Republicans, but his fellow Democrats.  And from a libertarian perspective, he was someone that could be both an fierce adversary, and a surprising ally.

Among the many issues that he and libertarians could find common ground on were the Iraq War, the War on Drugs, abolishing the death penalty, legalizing same-sex marriage, and repeal of the PATRIOT Act.  But there were plenty of issues where he could not be further apart - single-payer healthcare, strengthening gun control, many environmental issues, and opposing reform of Social Security.  On all these topics, though, he had defined positions and largely stuck to them.

So, I’ll miss Dennis Kucinich.  I will especially miss his support for ending the War on Drugs and his work on civil liberties. It’s not often to find someone in Congress who seems to care more about principles that going along with his party.  Even when I strongly disagreed with him, I respected him.  Best of luck in future endeavors, Dennis.

Koch brothers v. Cato Institute news roundup

Save CatoDoug Mataconis has already written a very good post weighing in on the legal battle between Charles and David Koch and the Cato Institute, so I’m not going to get into the meat of the issue again. But this recent bomb on the libertarian movement does have me concerned about its future, and with that, it’s something that you can expect us to cover as the case develops.

When it comes to the Koch brothers, I’m typically defensive. I think they’ve become a boogeyman for the Left. With that said, however, the Cato Institute is well-respected for their work promoting free markets, school choice, civil liberties, and an non-interventionist foreign policy. The folks at Cato are willing to call out all sides, including conservatives and Republicans, for trying to increase the size and scope of government. Making the Cato Institute a partisan would be a disaster, ruining the credibility of this respected think tank.

Below is a roundup of the various news and blog coverage of the fight for, what I consider to be, the very heart and soul of the libertarian movement (in no particular order). Not all of it is unbiased, meaning that it does include links to people with close ties to Cato, but it all makes for good reading if you want to follow the story:

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