I’ve been meaning to write about our government’s approach to civil liberties, but I wouldn’t be able to write anything as good as this essay from Maciej Cegłowski:
The term ‘terrorism’ is a magic word, unlocking government powers we normally associate with wartime. The current and previous Administration have, at various times, asserted the right of the government to conduct invasive and open-ended surveillance on people it suspects of terrorism, detain suspects in terrorism cases indefinitely without trial, ‘render’ them to countries for interrogation and torture, kill people it considers terrorists, including American citizens, with giant flying robots, or keep such people alive against their own will.
This is total power over human life. The authorities assure us that numerous checks exist to prevent abuses of this power, but of course the checks are also classified. The government is promising that the secret police won’t put innocent people in the secret prisons because the secret courts would never allow it.
The Obama administration has done some good things: stimulated the economy; repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell; started us on the road to socialized health care. But these are just niceties compared to the freedom of speech, the freedom of the press, due process, habeas corpus, the protection against unreasonable search and seizure, the right to expose government wrongdoing without having to fear bodily harm. At this lowest level of Maslow’s hierarchy of government functions, Obama has badly let us down.