Dave Lindorff
Published: Tuesday 1 May 2012
For starters, in vowing to “preserve, protect, and defend the US Constitution of the United States,” President Obama, upon taking office, had a sacred obligation to prosecute the people who had gravely wounded that document prior to his assuming office.

Real Politics Must be in the Streets: The Constitutional Crimes of Barack Obama

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As we slog towards another vapid, largely meaningless exercise in pretend democracy with the selection of a new president and Congress this November, it is time to make it clear that the current president, elected four years ago by so many people with such inflated expectations four years ago (myself included, as I had hoped, vainly it turned out, that those who elected him would then press him to act in progressive ways), is not only a betrayer of those hopes, but is a serial violator of his oath of office. He is, in truth, a war criminal easily the equal of his predecessor, George W. Bush, and perhaps even of Bush’s regent, former Vice President Dick Cheney.

Let me count the ways:

* For starters, in vowing to “preserve, protect, and defend the US Constitution of the United States,” President Obama, upon taking office, had a sacred obligation to prosecute the people who had gravely wounded that document prior to his assuming office. It was clear, as I wrote in my book The Case for Impeachment: The Legal Argument for Removing President George W. Bush from Office (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), that Bush and Cheney had ordered and condoned and covered up torture of captives in their so-called “War” on Terror, as well as in the very real wars against Iraq and Afghanistan, committing grievous war crimes that are not only violations of international law, but of the US Criminal Code, given that the US is a leading author and signatory of the Geneva Accords). They also were war criminals of the first degree for orchestrating, through lies to both the UN Security Council and the US Congress and the American people, about the alleged threat and imminence of any threat by Iraq to the US or its allies. President Obama, under the UN Charter and under US law, as the president, commander in chief, and top law officer in the nation, was bound to investigate and prosecute those crimes. Instead, he ordered that there would be no prosecutions.

* A federal court also ruled that President Bush had committed a felony in using the National Security Agency and several complicit telecommunications companies to spy on massive numbers of Americans with no warrants. Again, instead of prosecuting the president once he replaced him, President Obama said there would be no prosecution, and he went on to expand that spying program exponentially, effectively shredding beyond recognition the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures, which had been a leading rallying issue for the revolutionists of 1776.

* President Obama, on his own initiative, has moved beyond the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, launching illegal wars against Libya, Yemen, and Pakistan, largely through the use of American military aircraft, cruise missiles, and especially pilotless drones.

In addition to being illegal acts of war against nations that pose no imminent threat to the US, these clear acts of war have caused vastly disproportionate civilian deaths -- reportedly as many as 40 civilians, including many children, are being killed by drone strikes inside Pakistan for each of the supposed targeted “terrorists.” Just the disproportionality of such "collateral damage" is a heinous war crime, even leaving aside the illegality of such strikes being conducted by the US within the border of a sovereign nation not at war with the US.

* The president and his surrogates, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, have committed one of the gravest of crimes in the world, a Crime Against Peace under the UN Charter (which as a signed and Senate-ratified treaty is the law of the land under our Constitution), by threatening a war of aggression against the nation of Iran. Under the Charter’s terms, it is the number one war crime to attack a nation that does not pose an imminent threat to the attacker, and a nearly equally grievous crime to threaten such a crime, as the president and his secretary of state have done on multiple occasions, warning Iran that “all options are on the table” should Iran not halt its (totally legal) nuclear fuel enrichment program. Beyond just words, the President as Commander in Chief has moved several fully armed, Tomahawk Cruise-missile-equipped aircraft battle groups to positions off the coast of Iran, sent squadrons of new F22 stealth fighter bombers to airfields directly across the Persian Gulf from Iran, and positioned troops and missile-equipped submarines in invasion-ready locations, as well as providing specialized bombs and refueling aerial tankers to Israel, which itself is preparing for an attack on Iran. Yet even the most hawkish Israeli and US military and intelligence experts concede that Iran is years away from having an operational nuclear weapon even if it were to begin a bomb-development program, which there is no evidence of at present. Obama has already ordered an ongoing campaign of terrorist attacks and bombings inside of Iran, which has led to the deaths of many Iranians, including civilians.

* President George W. Bush committed an impeachable crime when he had Jose Padilla, an American citizen born in New York, arrested, held without charge on a military base in South Carolina a for years and tortured mercilessly to the point of madness, before he was finally ordered released to a civilian prison where he faced trial in a civilian court. But President Obama has moved well beyond that travesty by issuing, in April 2010, and then acting on an Executive Order that he claims allows him, on his sole authority, to declare American citizens to be “terrorists” and to have them killed anywhere in the world. Under this clearly unconstitutional order, there is no trial, no judicial ruling. Just an execution order. At least two citizens have been killed in this way, including the wholly innocent young son of an American-born target, Anwar al-Awlaki, killed by a Predator drone in Yemen. President Obama has also, short of killing them, signed an order authorizing the arrest and secret detention indefinitely of American citizens, again on his own authority, without trial or legal recourse.

* He has also continued to claim the right to rendition and to torture captives that he on his own authority declares to be terrorists.

* President Obama, as president, is responsible for a program organized out of his Department of Homeland Security last year, to coordinate and help finance a nationwide violent crackdown on the Occupy Movement which swept the country in a wave of popular anger at the crimes of the US financial industry and the massive corruption of the political process. Hundreds if not thousands of people who were peacefully exercising their First Amendment rights to assemble, speak and seek redress were battered, shot, gassed, pepper-sprayed, beaten, arrested and jailed by local, state and sometimes federal police urged on by the central government’s internal security agencies. Participants in these legitimate protests have been photographed, investigated, spied on, subjected to the deceits of agents provocateur, and now are in data bases in federal, state and local computer systems, where they are classified as national security threats, making a mockery of the claim that America is still a free, democratic society.

* As a special category of crime, this repression, orchestrated by the White House through its Homeland Security (sic) and Justice (sic) Departments, targeted the press, with clearly identified reporters, even including those from major corporate news organizations, being subjected to arrest, having their cameras snatched or destroyed, or at a minimum being forcibly removed from the scene of repressive police actions against demonstrators.

* The president, initially lying to the American public about the goals of the raid, ordered the slaying -- not the capture -- of Osama Bin Laden, the alleged mastermind behind the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center Towers and the Pentagon in 2001, thus continuing the cover-up of the truth about that event which precipitated the current crisis of American democracy. With Bin Laden located and easily trapped within his compound in Pakistan, the president sent a US Navy Seal team in under cloak of night with the express goal of killing Bin Laden, thereby assuring that he would never be interrogated or put on the stand where he could potentially have revealed what really happened on 9-11, who knew about the plans, and how he was able to pull off such an improbable attack on the most powerful nation in the history of the world.

* Corruption: There is so much corruption in this administration that it can hardly be tallied up. There is clear evidence that officials appointed by the administration from the banking industry, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, presidential economic advisor Lawrence Summers, and “Jobs Czar” Jeffrey Immelt, are guilty of frauds, crimes and cover-ups in the financial crisis that since 2008 have allowed them and their financial industry patrons and compatriots to steal literally trillions of dollars from American citizens and the US treasury. Only criminal prosecutions or a no-holds-barred Congressional investigation could lay out these crimes, but neither is remotely likely. There is similar corruption, on a smaller scale in dollars, but perhaps more devastating in its long-term impact, in the Education Department, where the private charter school industry is gradually taking over education policy with the connivance of Obama Education Secretary Arne Duncan.

* President Obama has violated the Posse Comitatus Act barring the use of federal troops on American soil, creating a domestic military command and using federal troops to bar the media and environmental activists from inspecting the damage from the BP Gulf oil spill, and later helping to try to break a strike at port facilities at Pacific coast ports by the International Longshoremen and Warehouse Union.

* There has been an abject failure by President Obama to protect the United States from the terrible looming threat of climate change. Although his own Pentagon has declared that climate change poses far greater threats to US national security than terrorism, the president has over four years in office not only done almost nothing to try and combat this threat; he has actively undermined diplomatic efforts to achieve some kind of international coordinated action, even punishing those countries, like Bolivia and the Maldives, that have sought to do something concrete, and has adopted policies domestically, like approving more offshore oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, that only make the crisis worse.

When I was writing my book about the impeachable crimes of the Bush/Cheney administration, there was at least a hope that Congress, then in the hands of the Democratic Party, might actually act and impanel an Impeachment Committee in the House. In the end, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) nixed that idea and strong-armed Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) into never seriously investigating that administration’s crimes, much less impaneling an impeachment committee.

I have no illusions that the current even more craven and spineless Congress, even with the House in the hands of Republicans, would seek to impeach this president. Indeed, many of the crimes listed above involve activities that the Republicans in Congress themselves actively support and are thus also guilty of, such as threatening Iran with war, supporting the ongoing theft of the nation’s wealth by the financial industry, or ignoring the threat of climate change.

It is nonetheless important, I believe, to publicly announce this bill of particulars, so that it is clear that we continue in the United States to be led by a gang of thieves and sociopaths.

The election of 2008 proved yet again that voting in the US is simply for show, at least as long as the public continues to be suckered into accepting the fake limitation of choice to the two parties, which actually compete only for the right to the patronage and financial spoils that come with winning. The real politics must be in our communities and in the street.



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ABOUT Dave Lindorff

Dave Lindorff is an investigative reporter, a columnist for CounterPunch, and a contributor to Businessweek, The Nation, Extra! and Salon.com. He received a Project Censored award in 2004. Dave is also a founding member of the online newspaper ThisCantBeHappening! at www.thiscantbehappening.net

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23 comments on "Real Politics Must be in the Streets: The Constitutional Crimes of Barack Obama"

scarletsister32

May 04, 2012 9:35pm

Bravo Mr. Lindorff, Bravo! I do not hear these truths spoken nearly often enough. So many liberals/progressives are still living in the delusional world of the left/right paradigm where Barack Obama is still a "good guy" simply because he has a D next to his name. They do not want to wake up to the reality that he is as bad, and in many ways worse, than Bush because he has not only carried on his policies but has taken them further. Thank you for trying to wake people up to the reality of what is going on. My message to all of my fellow progressives out there... there is another choice - wake up and vote Ron Paul!!!!!

Micheal Cwynar

May 06, 2012 2:45pm

Ah, a message from another planet. Maybe if we set fire to the whole world it'll grow back a better one.

bladtheimpailer

May 03, 2012 4:20pm

Why would anyone in the position,even try to prosecute those who have acted criminally when you plan to continue and also expand on those crimes.

If we want justice for all as a cornerstone of our society we need to chisel a new stone and inscribe "do not remove this cornerstone" on it and then rebuild.

This current state of affairs in our society demands we all take to the streets as often and for as long as we can if we want to reverse what our society has been substituted for. "I don't think we're in Kansas any more."

Butch

May 02, 2012 8:59pm

The only chance we have is to vote third party. We need to educate people into ignoring the corporate media and start paying attention to researching the internet and finding out about third parties and people running for office in them. We need to ignore democrats and republicans and starve them out of office and only start supporting third party candidates for office. Eventually if enough people break away from this corporate madness that is ruining this country we can gain control of it again. When the corporate business has its grip in the government and they begin working together you have fascism. I think we are there.

Micheal Cwynar

May 03, 2012 2:11pm

Don't vote? Come on. Don't vote and see what happens. I wonder if many are just looking for rationalizations for their anarchy, kind of like cravings for instant gratification. Can this really be how we want to make or cause change?

Jefffrey Hill

May 02, 2012 6:33pm

Obama and Holder must go.

Rethug Romney is no damn good either.

The corporate kleptocracy and the plutocrtas won't allow a real choice.

Vote for a write-in (like Dennis Kucinich, Ralph Nader, Dick Soars, Anita Goodman, Amanda Lynch, Mickey Mouse, Daffy Duck, Robin Banks, Willy Steele, Skip Towne, et.al.) or a 3rd party candidate.

Cerastes

May 02, 2012 6:30pm

A vote for the lesser evil is still a vote for evil! We need to ask ourselves whether or not our votes determine, or even influence what happens in America.

William Bednarz

May 02, 2012 5:20pm

after you get done talking and prosecuting George W. Bush ----maybe we
ll talk about Obama whose was chosen to try to clean up the mess
WHAT DISGRACE UNDER BUSH DO YOU WANT TO DISCUSS FIRST -.- THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT -.- ATTORNEY GENERAL ALBERTO GONZALES ...? HOW ABOUT TWO WARS???? PROPRAGANDA ???? MISSION ACCOMPLISHED ???? THE BAILOUT WITHOUT ANY ACCOUNTIBILITY / OR OVERSIGHT ???
POINT YOUR FINGER IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

William Bednarz

May 02, 2012 5:23pm

Are you really that afraid of George Bush and the Republican Party ??

BozoAdult

May 03, 2012 10:32am

All our current problems stem directly from the criminal Bush Administration. First off, he wasn't even legitimately elected.

They did not steal the election with good intentions.

marybess

May 02, 2012 5:02pm

Yeah, Obama's a jive ass. Anyone who checked out who his largest contributors were during the 2008 campaign would know that.

historyrepeats

May 02, 2012 3:38pm

President Teleprompter is the reason our country is now being called The United States of Anarchy - Bush W. pales in comparison.

jazznation

May 02, 2012 2:15pm

Not to mention supporting the global propagation of biologically hazardous genetically engineered phude and the increasing monopoly of the world's organic seeds, and not to mention the same policies on nuclear power, both IRREVERSIBLE escapees of Pandora's box. You can bet whether it will be climate change or one of these horrors that will finally precipitate the demise of humankind but you won't be collecting anything if you win.

danh

May 02, 2012 11:01am

In response to Bozoadult and Anono, there is something you can do, if you live in a non-swing state.

In a non-swing state, your vote is free.

You can vote for Jill Stein, or any other alternative candidate.

This helps them get matching funds for the next election. It shows the media that you don't like the choices they've given us. And, if you're worried that one of the main candidates is significantly worse than the other one, well, your vote in a non-swing state makes no difference to the outcome.

BozoAdult

May 02, 2012 1:52pm

I live in Ohio but I will vote for Jill Stein anyway.

I believe Obama deliberately dampened enthusiasm for voting in 2010 so he wouldn't have to go along with a more liberal agenda. He did this by extending the Bush tax cuts, making sure we didn't get a public option, not investigation Bush and not prosecuting the banks.

Bush and Cheney should be behind bars. Instead we have a Democratic President to the right of Saint Ronnie. It's enough to make you sick!

Norman Allen's picture
Norman Allen

May 02, 2012 10:51am

When the elite ever investigated their own without their heads on the chopping block? Want investigation, organize, organize, organize....

pitch1934

May 02, 2012 10:48am

It kindof reminds meof the movie "Dumb and Dumberer". Except in this case it's bad and baderer.

Ronni85

May 02, 2012 10:35am

Trouble is, he's the lesser of the two evils, and THAT IS CRIMINAL!!!!

Beca

May 02, 2012 11:30am

NO he is not! He is AS evil as the rest of them! In fact, I find him even more evil because he has the "charm" and charisma to lead most Americans down the embankment while smiling at them!
Wake the heck up! This is not TV, it's not dancing with the stars where you get to "vote" for the most popular, or most good looking contestant! This is real life, and until people realize that both corrupt corporatist political parties are are EQUALLY EVIL, and keep voting for one or the other--we are going to keep getting flushed down the toilet!
Of yours, most will say "well who do we vote for them?" ANYBODY would be better than these monsters! The world won't come to an end if people actually engage in actual democratic voting, where you vote for people you believe best represents your interests, rather than the pre-approved goons presented to you by the Corporate cartel! WAKE UP!

BozoAdult

May 02, 2012 10:16am

Even more disturbing than "looking forward", rather than investigate the Bush Administration, the President decided to look forward rather than investigate the obvious fraud by the banks that destroyed the world economy.

Now deficit hawks want to make up the difference by cutting the domestic social safety net.

As a Democrat I do not know what to do. Obviously the Republicans are even worse.

Beca

May 02, 2012 11:34am

Bozoadult, not true, they are both equally bad--the only difference is in the window dressing, the outcome of both parties in office is the same--corporate power overstepping "we the people". Look at the bills passed by and signed into law by both parties over the past few decades. Not just the titles (which are often deceiving), but the contents to the bills, regardless of what party was in power, the bills are the same--they heavily benefited the Corporate cartel at a great expense and peril of the people.
Vote outside both corrupt parties! Until Americans don't learn to engage in a true democracy system, where people get to pick their own candidates, this country will continue to be swallowed up by the Corporate cartel.
When are people going to wake up?

BozoAdult

May 03, 2012 10:29am

The Republicans falsified evidence to support the illegal Iraq War.

They tortured -they are war criminals.

The Democrats are also bad but it isn't even close.

anono

May 02, 2012 10:02am

Who to vote for? Barmit Obomney, or Barmit Obomney?