2007 August 1

Candidate Obama Endorses Civil Liberties in the War on Terrorism; Ignores His Own Words as President


Senator Barack Obama, preparing to run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008 delivered a major speech on international relations at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C., on this day. The speech included a strong statement about protecting civil liberties in the war on terrorism (see below), reflecting his criticisms of the Bush administration while he was in the Senate. Once he became president, however, he proceeded to ignore much of what he had said in this speech. He did disavow torture, but with respect to the illegal surveillance of Americans, the practices of the Bush administration actually increased during his time in office.

In 2010, the ACLU issued an 18-month report on President Obama and civil liberties in the war on terrorism entitled Establishing the New Normal, which criticized him and his administration for continuing many of the policies of the Bush administration (see below). And on June 5, 2013, the first of a long series of media stories about spying by the National Security Agency (NSA), based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, revealed a shocking expansion of NSA spying.

Obama: “This Administration also puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand. I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom. That means no more illegal wire-tapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. The FISA court works. The separation of powers works. Our Constitution works. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whims of stubborn rulers, and that justice is not arbitrary.”

Read the best book on President Obama and the war on terrorism: Charlie Savage, Power Wars: Inside Obama’s Post-9/11 Presidency (2015)

Read Obama’s entire speech: http://www.cfr.org/elections/obamas-speech-woodrow-wilson-center/p13974

Read the 2010 ACLU report on the Obama administration: https://www.aclu.org/national-security/establishing-new-normal

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