Shortly after Obama’s election I began to become disappointed with many of his policies, appointments, and approaches. While there were signs of hope early on, it soon seemed to devolve into business as usual. Early on I wrote down some of the things that disappointed me. Little did I know how far reaching my list was to become.
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Obama’s Pro-War, Pro-Corporate Choices
A Hard-nosed Compilation
In my opinion, as an overview of Barack Obama’s presidency, although he has done some good things, in most cases they were severely compromised by his lack of fighting for them, or they have been severely undermined by the fact that the structure of the government and its priorities and its support of corporate greed and destruction have not changed and remain upside down, which he has for the most part supported and promoted.
Obama and his supporters have complained that the progressives want too much too fast. That’s not it. Legitimate complications and conflicts among politicians is one thing but backroom shady deals with big money interests putting their profits ahead of the welfare of the people is something else. And he has consistently done that.
A line from a Martin Luther King speech strikes me as perfect for the Obama administration.
“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. “
As Obama throws crumbs to us in the form of a smattering of social and environmental progress, he reinforces dramatically the “edifice” that creates the woes that compound social and economic injustice, increase hate in the world, and destroy the planet.
The real importance of this compilation is that facts are needed to counter the phenomenon of Obama floating through his presidency while good-hearted Democrats were asleep. With his charisma and message of hope and change, the vast majority of Democrats who were not inclined to take the effort to really see what was happening, relied on the mainstream media for their information, and remained Obama supporters.
In the “liberal” media Obama was heroic, struggling against an insane Republican party. We were sold the idea that Obama did what he could, fighting against the Republican resistance. Fact of the matter is that Obama was adamantly pro-war, pro-empire, pro-corporate, and pro-American Exceptionalism.
This Democratic torpor, the Obama Denial Syndrome, was the first stage of the malady that gave rise to the next stage, Trump Denial Syndrome, which led Democrats to spend the first 3 years of Trump’s presidency focusing on Russiagate, a fantasy packaged by the Democratic Party and the Deep State, instead, again, of focusing on what is really going on, on what Trump is really doing. Also many seem to harbor the idea that if we can just get rid of Trump and replace him with a Democrat, then we can get back to the good old days of business as usual.
So, let’s look at the reality of Barack Obama’s good old days.
Table of Contents
This compilation, although extensive, does not, by any means, document all of Obama’s bad behavior.
It is not in chronological order.
It is divided into 7 main sections, some of which also have subsections:
War, Military Industrial Complex
Prisons, Black Sites
Other International Policies
Reach of the Empire
Russia and China
Miscellaneous Other International Policies
Secrecy and Free Speech
Miscellaneous Secrecy and Free Speech
Social and Domestic Issues
Miscellaneous Social and Domestic Issues
Big Oil and Other Fossil Fuels
Nature, Animals, Clean Air
The Obama Doctrine
Has appointed or kept on a myriad Bush administration people in his own administration.
From the Bush administration he kept on Robert Gates as Secretary of Defense, David Petraeus, Stanley McCrystal, and others, immediately signaling a seamless continuation of the Bush war mentality.
Eric Holder as Attorney General, who had previously worked at (and would return to) a company who’s job it was, was to protect bankers from prosecution.
Larry Summers, as Director of the National Economic Council who was Clinton’s Secretary of the Treasury. Summers was part of Clinton’s team that deregulated the banks.
Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury. Geithner had worked for Kissinger Associates, Inc., an international consulting firm, founded and run by Henry Kissinger. And is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
After first being picked to lead the Office of Management and Budget, then as his Chief of Staff, in 2013 Obama nominated Jack Lew, another Wall St. insider, to replace Timothy Geithner as Secretary of the Treasury. Lew was an executive at Citigroup from 2006 to 2008 at the time of the financial crisis and bet on the housing market to collapse. He has long pushed for the deregulation of Wall Street. He is an architect of the pro Wall St. agenda and proponent of austerity for the other 99%.
Mary Jo White as chair the Securities and Exchange Commission who now works as an attorney at law firm Debevoise & Plimpton, where she defends clients such as JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs, Bank Of America, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, and UBS.
Jerome Powell to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. Powel served under George H. W. Bush and was a partner of The Carlyle Group, a huge private equity firm and one of the largest defense contractors in the world whose members include both Bushes and whose notable investors include the bin Laden family and the Saudi Royal Family.
Never replaced Robert Mueller, who has headed the FBI since the week before the 9/11 attack.
John Brennan as chief counterterrorism adviser who, as a Bush-era CIA official, had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture and rendition and also was a vocal advocate of immunizing lawbreaking telecoms for their role in the illegal Bush NSA eavesdropping program.
John Brennan to head the CIA, a post that he had been considered for in 2008 but was at the time considered too controversial, having been director of the National Counterterrorism Center under Bush and who had expressly endorsed Bush’s programs of torture and rendition. He has also been in charge of Obama’s radical drone policies.
James Clapper as Director of National Intelligence who previously served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) under Bush.
Appointed at least 12 former lobbyists in his first 2 weeks in office. As of April 1, 2010 had appointed 50 lobbyists.
Had inner circle team members David Axelrod, once a consultant of Exelon, and Rahm Emanuel, who helped create Exelon, the U.S.’s 2nd largest electric and natural gas company with the nation’s largest fleet of nuclear power plants. Exelon has enjoyed top access to the administration and John W. Rogers Jr., a friend and a top fund-raiser, is a board member.
Bill Daley, a JPMorgan Chase executive, as Chief of Staff following Rahm Emanuel.
David Petraeus as head of the CIA. Continued his support after Petraeus, during his confirmations hearings, said he believed torture could be necessary under some circumstances.
William Lynn, a senior vice president at Raytheon, which has billions of dollars in Defense Department contracts and is the maker of the army’s Patriot Missile system and the Tomahawk missile, as Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ deputy.
Jim Kolbe on the trade commission, who has been involved with moving U.S. jobs to Mexico.
Jeffrey Immelt, General Electric’s CEO, to head the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness (GE is a leader in American manufacturing jobs outsourcing and closing factories). The 27-member council is stacked with 19 corporate chairmen and CEOs.
Owns considerable stock in major outsourcers of American jobs Apple, GE, and IBM, according to his 2011 financial disclosure, while accusing Romney of profiting from investing in outsourcing companies.
Daniel Gallagher as Securities and Exchange Commission commissioner. Gallagher is currently a partner at WilmerHale, its clients including Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup.
Steven Chu as Energy Secretary, who was pro nuke, once saying he was not worried about nuclear waste because we have ways to store it for 100 years and by then they will have figured out how to deal with it.
Dana Perino, Bush Press Secretary to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
Alan Simpson, almost a year before the big deficit debate, as chair of the Deficit Commission that ultimately concluded the tax cuts for the wealthy should drop to below the Bush tax cuts level and the retirement age should be raised to 69, among other wealth favoring measures.
David Cote, Honeywell CEO, to the Deficit Commission. Honeywell who makes tons on defense contracts, stores nuclear waste in the open, refuses uranium distilling workers a health plan.
Ryan Crocker as ambassador to Afghanistan who is all in for continued full force war.
Supported the most conservative candidates in the 2010 Democratic primaries. Offered jobs to progressive candidates to get them out of races with more conservative candidates.
If not directly involved, at least supported the firing of Shirley Sherrod.
Never fought for Van Jones.
Gil Kerlikowske as Director of National Drug Control Policy, who believes and expounds all the nightmarish marijuana myths.
Michele Leonhart to head up the DEA, a Bush appointee, who has tried to block research into medicinal benefits of marijuana, and has undermined state laws regarding legal medical use.
Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg, Ford CEO Allan Mulally, Boeing CEO James McNerny Jr., all members of Obama’s Export Council.
Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical CEO, as co-chair of Obama’s Advanced Manufacturing Partnership.
Praised his Jobs Council, who recommended expanding access to oil, gas, and coal on federal lands and called for reforms to further streamline government rules and reduce the regulatory burden on businesses. Wants to “aggressively implement” their recommendations.
Has packed the Agriculture Department with chemical and biotech concerns:
- Tom Vilsack as Secretary of Agriculture, who, as Iowa state governor, originated a bill which blocked local communities from regulating where genetically engineered crops would be grown, and was founder and chair of the Governor’s Biotechnology Partnership, and was named Governor of the Year by the Biotechnology Industry Organization.
- Islam Siddiqui, Monsanto lobbyist and a VP at CropLife USA, a pesticide lobby (the company who chided Michelle Obama for refusing to use pesticides on the White House garden), to the post of Chief Agricultural Negotiator, U.S. Trade Representative.
- Roger Beachy, president of the Danforth Plant Science Center, Monsanto’s nonprofit arm, as Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
- Rajiv Shah, former agricultural-development director for the pro-biotech Gates Foundation (a frequent Monsanto partner), as USDA Under Secretary for Research Education and Economics and Chief Scientist and is now head of USAID.
- Ramona Romero, corporate counsel to DuPont to serve as General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
- Michael Taylor, a former attorney and lobbyist for Monsanto, as Senior Advisor to the Commissioner of the FDA, then as FDA Deputy Commissioner for Foods. He is responsible for running sting operations and guns-drawn raids as part of a crackdown on unpasteurized milk and cheese, destroying and confiscating huge amounts of product, as well as personal computers.
The consequences of his Agriculture Department’s decisions that adversely affect our public health (and that of the rest of the world by empowering the major corporate chemical companies) are far reaching and too many to be listed here.
Has started up a re-election campaign committee financed by undisclosed contributions.
Is sending senior White House aides and Cabinet secretaries to headline super PAC events.
Jeff Berman, as a member of his 2008 election team, who in 2010 would work as a lobbyist on behalf of the TransCanada Corp., and the Keystone XL Pipeline project.
Broderick Johnson as a senior advisor to his 2012 re-election campaign, a former lobbyist for the Keystone XL pipeline’s TransCanada Corp., Bank of America, the Biotechnology Industry Organization, JPMorgan Chase, and Shell Oil.
Ernest Moniz, as Energy Secretary, a supporter of fracking and ex-employee of BP, who has also been embraced by the Nuclear Energy Institute for his long-time support of the industry. In 2011, he wrote that it would be a “mistake” to allow Japan’s nuclear disaster to “cause governments to abandon nuclear power and its benefits.”
Anita Dunn as campaign strategist who advised corporations lobbying the government; such as TransCanada, General Electric, AT&T, military contractor Pratt & Whitney, and a business coalition seeking to reduce tax rates on around $1 trillion in offshore profits.
Susan Rice, first as the U.S. ambassador to the UN, then as national security adviser. Rice holds significant investments in more than a dozen Canadian oil companies and banks that would stand to benefit from the Keystone XL pipeline. She has a record of being extremely pro American Empire interventions.
Penny Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce, a billionaire heiress and campaign funder with a fiercely anti-labor record. She owned Superior Bank that collapsed after they expanded subprime lending. She was the wealthiest cabinet secretary in U.S. history.
Tom Wheeler as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, a campaign funder and a former lobbyist for telecom corporations that appear before the FCC. Wheeler is also a venture capitalist invested in and profiting from corporations whose requests he’ll have to decide on. Comcast has cheered for Wheeler’s nomination.
Michael Froman as trade representative, an advocate of destructive corporate trade policies in the Clinton-NAFTA days, as well as of the Obama-era corporate trade agreements with Korea, Colombia and Panama, not to mention the NAFTA-on-steroids Trans-Pacific Partnership. Froman was managing director at Citigroup during its collapse and bailout.
James Comey to head the FBI, who was deputy attorney-general under Bush, and since leaving the Justice Department, has been working as a hedge fund manager.
Samantha Power as the Ambassador to the United Nations, who condemns the UN for its criticism of Israel and whose view is that the U.S. should feel free to intervene in world affairs unilaterally. And whose style is to be very critical and harsh.
Endorsed NYC police commissioner Ray Kelly as a worthy candidate to succeed Janet Napolitano as head of Homeland Security, saying, “Kelly has obviously done an extraordinary job in New York”, he’s “one of the best there is”, and “he’d be very well qualified for the job.”
Jeff Zients, who worked for Mitt Romney’s Bain & Company investment firm, as head of the National Economic Council after having bashed Romney during the 2012 campaign because of Bain.
Deborah Lee James as Secretary of the Air Force, who was a chief executive at SAIC, Science Applications International Corp, a Fortune 500 company, that ended up paying back $500 million in an almost decade long conspiracy to defraud the city of New York.
Rewarded campaign bundlers who collected more than $500,000, as 3 years into his first term 80 percent of them were given “key administration posts”, the same amount as Bush appointed over his entire 8 years.
Has appointed people to one-third of our 187 ambassador positions who are not career diplomats, have no experience or training but were given these plum assignments because of having been major campaign donors at an average of $1.8 million per appointment; this being not only corrupt but weakening our international relationships.
War, Military Industrial Complex
Escalated in Afghanistan from 33,000 troops to 100,000 troops, just as it was clear there is no legitimate government there to govern.
The surge in Afghanistan cost 1000 U.S. combat deaths in 2 years after taking 8 years to reach the first 1000. And military suicide rates have now exceeded combat death rates.
Pitiful July, 2011 Afghanistan troop withdrawal plan.
After Afghan President Hamid Karzai banned U.S. special forces from Wardak Province, our military has ignored the ban.
Has made a strategic partnership agreement with Karzai, President of Afghanistan, that ensures Americans will provide military and financial support to the Afghan people for at least a decade after 2014.
Has more than tripled the use of night raids in Afghanistan. An estimated 20 to 40 night raids occur per night, resulting in thousands of detentions per year, many of whom are non-combatants, as well as many civilians being killed.
After a deal was finally signed requiring U.S. troops to get Afghan permission before carrying out night raids, said we will still carry out the raids without prior permission when necessary.
Has stalled the transfer of the Bagram prison from the United States to Afghanistan, further asserting our supremacy in their country as we portray ourselves as there to help them.
Is pushing Iraq to extend the U.S. military presence beyond 2011.
May 18, 2011 offered a one-year extension of the 2003 Bush Iraq national emergency.
Claims he is bringing the troops home from Iraq as promised; the truth is we were kicked out against our will. Still we are leaving 16,000 personnel among which 8,000 will be armed contractors.
During a time in Iraq when 30 people are dying every day in sectarian violence, wants to send $2.7 billion in weapons to Iraq, including 681 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, 40 truck-mounted launchers, and three Hawk anti-aircraft batteries with 216 Hawk missiles.
Stepped up the operating of a small fleet of surveillance drones in Iraq after the troops withdrew in Dec. 2012 against the will of the Iraqi government.
Began military attacks on Libya without consulting Congress. Ignored the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which required Congressional approval after 60 days. Claimed we weren’t involved in “hostilities” because Americans weren’t being hurt. Months of bombing would ultimately lead to the total destruction of Libya as a functioning state.
Went against international and U.S. law, bombing Qaddafi’s compound, clearly attempting to assassinate him.
In 2012 had already secretly begun to arm and train the Syrian rebels / terrorists, authorizing the classified Timber Sycamore operation, a joint operation with Saudi Arabia and the CIA.
Decided openly to arm the rebels in Syria, using Assad’s use of chemical weapons as the red line, even though others including the UN say they lack the evidence.
Is vehemently pushing for an attack on Syria in spite of very little support from the international community or the American people; an attack that is not expected to accomplish much and has the potential for far reaching blowback.
Didn’t try very hard to defeat the terrorists in Syria, not bombing the trucks transporting oil which the terrorist were selling to Turkey; it was the first thing Russia did against the terrorists.
Used cluster bombs in Yemen on December 17, 2009, striking al-Majala in southern Aryan province, causing more than 40 civilian casualties.
Played a major role in the Saudi-led bombing of Yemen, supplying arms, identifying targets and provided mid-air refueling of Saudi and UAE warplanes.
Provided political cover for the Yemen war, shielding Saudi Arabia from scrutiny at the United Nations and persistently proclaiming the strength of the U.S.-Saudi alliance.
Continued supporting the Yemen war as the blockade of the country created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis and despite large-scale bombings that caused mass civilian casualties, including the Hajjah market killing 119 people and the Sana’a funeral killing 140.
Continued supporting the Saudis and the Yemen war even when evidence surfaced that the Saudis and Emiratis were working alongside America’s foremost enemy, al Qaeda.
Commenced drone warfare just three days after being sworn in, that kills many times more civilians than militants. Dramatically expanded drone warfare. In first 9 months he authorized as many attacks in Pakistan as Bush did in his final 3 years. Started a covert drone war in Yemen.
Is conducting the practice of “signature strikes” – drone attacks against targets whose identities aren’t known but who fit the profile or patterns of behavior of enemy combatants.
Has refused to show Congress any documents detailing the legal justification for drone strikes overseas after a number of requests have been made.
In spite of earlier agreeing to disclose the Justice Department memos explaining the legal rationale for targeted drone killings overseas after Senate complaints, continues to refuse to do so amid the confirmation hearings for CIA nominee John Brennan.
Took part in a NATO strike that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers which contributed to the deterioration of relations with Pakistan to the worst they have been in many many years.
In August, 2015, as if 60 drone flights a day wasn’t enough, escalated to 90 per day.
Will make a major exemption for the CIA’s campaign of drone strikes in Pakistan in the counterterrorism manual being prepared that will establish clear rules for targeted-killing operations.
November, 2012, under new Defense Department guidelines as many as 66 countries would be eligible to buy U.S. drones.
Dropped 100,000 bombs, out-bombing Bush by 30,000 bombs. In the last year of his presidency, 2016, dropped 26,000 bombs.
Carried out ongoing bombing campaigns against 7 countries, adding Yemen, Libya and Syria to the four countries Bush was bombing.
Is responsible because of our wars for unprecedented multiple deployments to war zones.
In the middle of the 2014 Israeli slaughter in Gaza, when Israel was short of armament, authorized Israeli access to a U.S. arsenal in their country when they requested it.
Targeted and killed Hakeemullah Mehsud, the Taliban leader in Pakistan, with a drone just one week after meeting with Nawaz Sharif, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, who appealed to Obama to stop drone attacks in his country; this as Mehsud and Pakistani leaders had begun to talk about possible peace negotiations.
Blocked an Egyptian proposal to the United Nations to make the Middle East a nuclear free zone.
Cut funding for democracy and governance programming in Egypt from $50 million in 2008 to $20 million in 2009 and civil society programs and NGOs from $32 million to only $7 million.
Will keep Patriot missiles and F-16 jet fighters in Jordan after joint military exercises ended.
Has increased funding for AFRICOM, the Unified Combatant Command for Africa, maintaining an active military presence against the wishes of most of Africa’s leaders. This includes major increases in US arms sales through the Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program and increases for the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program.
Announced plans to deploy U.S. Army teams to as many as 35 African countries early 2013 for training programs and other operations as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa, including the capability to use drones.
Helped the French fight insurgents and the Tuareg in Mali, yet another indigenous people who want independence from artificially created countries (by the French after WW2), while the French and others want to plunder their extensive natural resources.
Is escalating assisting France in Mali, even thought U.S. law forbids foreign assistance funds to leaders that came to power through a coup. Mali’s military leaders, including some trained by U.S. troops, seized power last year by force.
Signed an agreement Monday with the West African country of Niger that clears the way for a stepped-up American military presence on the edges of the conflict in neighboring Mali.
In a significant expansion of the war on drugs, has begun training an elite unit of counternarcotics police in Ghana and is planning similar units in Nigeria and Kenya. Future plans are to implement drug-fighting units across 15 African nations.
Has sent troops to Columbia, who is now fighting revolutionaries. Gates: We are there “to provide what they need in order to prosecute their efforts against the internal threats that they have”.
Is deploying commandos across Caribbean nations in the war on drugs.
Sent 7,000 troops, 200 helicopters, and 46 warships to Costa Rica to fight drug trafficking.
Signed a ten-year, renewable military agreement with Colombia, which gives Washington access to seven military bases in the country.
Prisons, Black Sites
Has not closed Guantanamo. Has solidified the idea of permanent detainees without being charged or having any recourse; be they in Guantanamo or anywhere else.
Signed an executive order creating a formal system to indefinitely detain prisoners without trial.
By June, 2012 has not released 87 Guantanamo prisoners who were cleared for release by his own task force findings finished 2 ½ years ago, including 40 prisoners who were cleared for release 5 years ago.
Fought against a court ordered cessation of required genital searches that prisoners must undergo in order to meet with their lawyers at Guantanamo and won, so such searches will continue.
Has presided over a threefold increase in detainees being held at Bagram Air Base; currently there are more than 1,700 detainees at Bagram, up from over 600 at the end of the Bush administration. These detainees are denied the right to legally question their detainment.
Announced August 30, 2012 that no one would be prosecuted for two particularly brutal CIA torture deaths of prisoners in Afghanistan in 2002 and Iraq in 2003, the last two cases not yet scrapped. This as the man who exposed the torture program, John Kiriakou, was imprisoned.
Maintains U.S. run black sites in spite of claiming to have stopped their use.
Renders prisoners to an underground black site prison in Somalia.
Maintains secret prisons in Afghanistan.
Will maintain control over some prisoners against the wishes of Afghanistan in the September 9, 2012 agreed upon transfer of Parwan prison at Bagram to the Afghans, claiming some prisoners are too difficult to prosecute but too dangerous to release, while the Afghans say no-trial detention is not acceptable and goes against their Constitution.
Has consistently demanded that after the 2014 withdrawal of troops, that the U.S. retain control of Afghanistan’s prisons and that U.S. Special Operations forces remain to continue carrying out night raids.
Continues to transfer detainees to Afghan prisons where they are knowingly tortured.
Has terror suspects flown to a Somali prison, where they are under the custody of Somali authorities, but we pay the guards and the CIA has unlimited access to the prisoners and to the intelligence being harvested by the Somali guards’ interrogation of the detainees.
Has used Guantanamo Bay prisoners as bargaining chips in deals with other countries.
Increased military spending by $77 billion in his first 2 years.
Increased the defense budget to the highest it has been since WW2.
Between 2012 and 2014, carried out 500 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) missions in as many as 67 countries. In 2015, U.S. Special Operations forces deployed to a record-shattering 147 countries — 75% of the nations on the planet, a jump of 145% since Bush.
Plans a huge expansion of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) to include a wider range of espionage operations, creating a large spy network in the Pentagon at the same time that the CIA is moving to build more of an independent air force and military operational capacity.
Has ordered his senior national security and intelligence officials to draw up a list of potential overseas targets for U.S. cyber-attacks. The directive states that Offensive Cyber Effects Operations (OCEO) “can offer unique and unconventional capabilities to advance U.S. national objectives around the world with little or no warning to the adversary or target.”
Conducts a secretive unit inside the National Security Agency called Tailored Access Operations that hacks into foreign computers to conduct cyber espionage, even as he complains about the Chinese cyber hacking.
Has done nothing to reign in or fire Blackwater; has, in fact, given them new contracts. Chose not to bring criminal charges against them for breaking Sudan sanctions. There are now more contractors in Afghanistan than U.S. soldiers.
Has given a new no-bid contract worth $22 million, lasting until May 2015, to Blackwater, now called Academi, in Afghanistan. Academi owns a private 10-acre compound outside Kabul, called Camp Integrity, which will be home to U.S. Special Operations Forces.
Supported Blackwater’s deal to function as United Arab Emirates’ security force.
Has done nothing to reign in or fire the corrupt no-bid contractors in the Middle-East.
Other International Policies
When he signed, during his first days in office, the order closing the CIA black sites, he added a footnote, and defined a CIA prison in a way that exempted a prison for short-term transitory provisions, thus allowing the CIA to fly suspects to countries that torture.
The task force on interrogation, commissioned by him, “recommended no changes” to the Army Field Manual, thereby retaining the torture loopholes, allowing abuse that does not meet the minimum standards of humane treatment mandated by the Geneva Conventions.
Has continually refused to investigate the Bush administration’s crimes.
Has said he will not investigate or prosecute torture. Says people who ordered torture cannot be held liable. Has dismissed many torture lawsuits.
Dropped criminal probes of 99 of 101 cases reviewed by federal prosecutors of alleged torture, abuse and murder of prisoners in U.S. custody.
Invoked the “state secrets” privilege to get a case throw out of court by 5 men who were renditioned and tortured.
Has been exposed by WikiLeaks to have leaned on many governments to squelch torture trials and investigations.
Leaned on Spain to kill a criminal case against Bush administration officials for torture.
Resumed assistance to Indonesia’s notorious special forces, Kopassus, which had been barred from receiving U.S. military aid for more than a decade because of gross abuses of democratic rights, including arbitrary detention, torture and murder.
Threatened to withhold intelligence from the UK if evidence of the alleged torture of a British resident held at Guantánamo Bay is made public.
Is expanding CIA activities in Somalia, including training Somalia fighters and a secret prison, where both there and in other U.S. secret prisons they almost certainly engage in torture.
Pulled strings to get CIA agent Seldon Lady returned to the U.S. from Panama instead of Italy after Italy convicted him for abducting an Egyptian cleric and rendering him to Egypt where he was allegedly tortured under the CIA’s extraordinary rendition program.
Regarding a suit by a U.S. soldier against Donald Rumsfeld for unjust imprisonment and torture, he is defending Rumsfeld and trying to get the case thrown out.
Sold more weapons in his first 5 years than any other president since WW2 has during their entire term.
Has increased international weapon sales over the already large Bush increases. 2011 sales reached 66 billion, triple that of 2010, breaking the 2008 $38 billion record; this while Russia, the world’s number two arms dealer, nearly halved its sales to $4.8 billion in 2011.
In October 2011, announced a 60 billion dollar arms deal with Saudi Arabia, the largest foreign arms sale ever. In December finalized 30 billion of it, 84 new and refurbishing of 70 fighter jets, just as Iran threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz. Says it will create jobs.
In 2010 lifted the Bush imposed sanctions against Rosoboronexport, Russia’s official weapons exporter, after two years of being sanctioned for selling arms to Iran and Syria. Then awarded the company a no-bid contract worth upwards of $1 billion.
Has begun modifying weapons export control regulations in order to increase the amount we export. Has taken first steps by tucking new language into the July 2010 Iran sanctions bill.
Is loosening controls over military exports which could increase the flow of American-made military parts to the world’s conflicts and make it harder to enforce arms sanctions; even to some countries subject to U.N. arms embargos.
Did not sign on to the August 1, 2010 Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the stockpiling, use and transfer of cluster bombs that was signed and adopted by 108 countries.
July 29, 2012, played a major role in the failure of the United Nations arms-trade treaty negotiations succeeding in coming to an agreement.
May 2012, is crafting a proposal to make it easier to export firearms and other weapons in an effort to boost sales for U.S. companies, increase trade and improve national security.
Has refused to sign the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, endorsed by 158 countries, including every other member of NATO and every other country in the Western Hemisphere except Cuba.
His 2014 budget proposal increases money for nuclear weapons, but decreases funding to secure loose nuclear material.
He has left the Bechtel Corporation, a private for profit company, put in charge by Bush, in charge of Los Alamos and Livermore.
In spite of his rhetoric about wanting to rid the world of nuclear weapons, the 2011 budget request for nuclear weapons is the largest in our history; bigger than under Bush and 40% higher than during the Cold War. Meanwhile the proposed budget for dismantling warheads retired from the stockpile is down by 40%.
In the 2016 budget request he requested $1 Trillion over the next 30 years to improve and expand our nuclear arsenal. This is approximately $4 Million per hour for the next 30 years.
Is selling $500 million worth of weapons to Indonesia, a country with an atrocious human rights record and ongoing civil unrest that is being dealt with violently.
July, 2011, has asked Congress to ok a sale of 125 new tanks and other weapons to Egypt, even as the military, which is in charge of the country now, is cracking down on civilians.
Promised support (along with British PM Cameron) for the proposed Trans-Anatolia gas pipeline from Azerbaijan across Georgia and Turkey to Europe (carrying BP gas), while Hilary Clinton, the same week, offered increased U.S. military aid to Georgia and Azerbaijan.
Reach of the Empire
Pressured European nations to refuse Bolivian President Morale’s plane access to their airspace, forcing him to land in Austria, effectively hijacking Morales.
Has been exposed by WikiLeaks in general to have bullied governments all over the world to do things they don’t want to do but are in the interest of the American empire.
Internationally, in general, he has increased tension and distrust. Among other things, the European missile shield and our increasing military presence in the Pacific has angered the Russians and the Chinese. He has made long time nuclear ally Pakistan hate us. There seems to be no problem in the world he isn’t comfortable confronting militarily.
September, 2013 told the United Nations that the US would use all of its power including military force to protect its interests, including keeping resources flowing; essentially proclaiming our imperial dominance and right to plunder.
Even as North Korea steps up war rhetoric, has been carrying out war exercises with South Korea simulating an attack on North Korea and now is sending F-22 stealth fighter jets and warships to join the exercises.
Is building a military base (more under Environment below) on Jeju Island, S. Korea, known, ironically, as the Island of Peace, just 300 miles from the Chinese mainland. The base will become a port for U.S. Navy Aegis destroyers outfitted with missile defense systems.
Sent troops to Haiti after the earthquake and has been complicit with keeping Haiti repressed.
Strongly opposed the return to Haiti of Aristide, the Haitian President who was removed by a US supported coup in 2004. Pleaded with South Africa, where he was in exile, to not allow him to leave.
Russia and China
Is blaming the Russians for returning to Cold War relations over the Snowden affair, in spite of the hypocrisy of the fact the US has avoided signing an extradition agreement with Russia and has refused the extradition of people who committed crimes in Russia.
Began the demonizing of Putin and Russia. Warned Putin against meddling in our elections.
Increased our military footprint surrounding China.
Will station 4 warships in Singapore and hopes to station ships in the Philippines.
Is expanding the U.S. military footprint in the far East by installing 2,500 troops in Australia in order to “maintain the security architecture in Asia. …. United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay.”
Perpetuates the narrative that Iran is the aggressor and the belligerent, even as we have them surrounded by 40 military bases, fly spy drones over their country, and train the MEK, a militant cult that has attacked their pipelines and assassinated their nuclear scientists.
Imposed new sanctions on Iran the week that the new moderate President-elect Hassan Rouhani was to become Iran’s leader, starting the new relationship on the wrong foot.
Accelerated the development of the Stuxnet computer virus and carried out of a “wave” of digital attacks on Iran codenamed “Olympic Games”, thought to be the first attack of a major nature in which a cyber attack was used to effect physical destruction.
After the MEK being on the U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations since 1997, removed them from the list in 2012.
Secretly sold Israel 55 bunker buster bombs in 2009, months after taking office; the Israeli request earlier having been rebuffed by the Bush administration.
Offered Israel 20 F-35 fighter jets worth $3 billion if they would stop settlements for just 3 months.
Worked behind the scenes to coerce the UN to halt its probes into possible Israeli war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 Gaza war. Suppressed the Goldstone Report.
As Israel and Gaza exchange attacks, continues to blame only the Palestinians. Israel’s defense minister, Ehud Barak: This effort could not have been concluded without the generous and consistent support of the American administration, led by President Obama.
After the overwhelming UN vote to give the Palestinians non-member statehood, continued the narrative that international law is counterproductive compared to the US being the sole arbitrator.
Claims to be fighting for an Israel / Palestine resolution but refuses to acknowledge the disparity between the actions of the two sides. Has increased aid to Israel even as they continue to settle the West Bank.
Vetoed a UN Security Council resolution condemning Jewish settlements, sponsored by at least 130 nations and supported by all 14 other members of the Security Council. Later cast the only vote against The United Nations international investigation into Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.
Agreed to Israel’s request to delay or block the creation of a United Nations Human Rights Council panel to investigate the issue of Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Continues to pressure Palestine to not go ahead with their bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations to non-member statehood, as they plan to request late Nov, 2012.
Has warned the Audacity of Hope aid ship to not go to Gaza, said the Israelis would have the right to defend themselves, and threatened the U.S. citizens with punishment if they go ahead with their plans.
In his Middle East speech he chastised the international community and the United Nations’ expected September recognition of Palestine as “symbolic actions to isolate Israel” and has warned the UN not to do it.
Backed the violent coup in Ukraine that was carried out by far right rebels including Nazis. (Joe Biden’s son and a John Kerry family friend would join the board of Burisma Holdings, the largest private gas producer in Ukraine, 2 months after the coup.)
Authorized $510 million in U.S. funding for the new government in Ukraine after the coup; arming it as it fought with East Ukraine Republics.
Spread misinformation about Russia and about Crimea’s succession from Ukraine. In an interview, when asked about parallels to Kosovo’s independence, said that in Kosovo they had a referendum and in Crimea they didn’t. He lied; it was the opposite.
Complicit if not overt support of the Honduras coup that removed Zelaya from power. Did not cut off the economic and military aid to Honduras as he is required to do under the law. Since the coup, 2 new US military bases have been built there.
In general Obama has maintained the past administrations’ policies of supporting and having close ties with many repressive governments and dictators in the world.
Personally called Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to tell him to keep the journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye in prison the day he was scheduled to be released. Shaye had been imprisoned because of his investigating war crimes including U.S. attacks on civilians, which Yemen claims to have carried out, as per a deal with the U.S.
Approved Yemen’s dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, coming to the US for medical treatment which may appear to Arabs as a sign of whose side the US is on in the popular uprisings. The decision shows a lack of historical perspective since Carter’s allowing the shah of Iran into the U.S. contributed to the deterioration of relations with Iran and the taking of the hostages.
After the Egyptian military massacred over 500 citizens, still won’t call the take over a coup and still won’t say outright that it will not support the Egyptian government.
Had been supportive of Mubarak and was weak in calling for democratic change in Egypt.
In 2009 coordinated Egypt’s efforts to keep Gaza sealed from the outside world directly with Egyptian Army chief Field Marshal Muhammad Tantawi – who is currently Egypt’s military ruler.
Is not acknowledging the military take over in Egypt as a coup, thereby being able to continue giving them military aid. The law forbids the US to give aid to a government who just committed a coup. Several weeks later, decided to avoid the issue of whether or not it was a coup by saying, “The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.”
March, 2012, on national security grounds, waived a new congressional requirement that directly ties military assistance to the protection of basic freedoms, allowing $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt’s brutal military government.
Has not spoken out against the abuses of the Bahrain dictatorial government who he befriends or the Saudis for aiding the fight against the rebels in Bahrain.
Met, June 7, 2011, a Bahraini prince and praised them for lifting their state of emergency, even as they continue their assault on protesters and are trying 47 doctors and nurses for attempting to overthrow the government.
Plans to sell $53 million worth of military equipment to Bahrain just months after their crackdown on protesters, claiming Bahrain is “an important force for political stability and economic progress in the Middle East.”
Has continued refusing to declassify the 28 pages of the Joint Congressional Report on the 9/11 attacks, detailing Saudi funding and other support of the plot.
Vetoed a bill passed unanimously by the House and Senate that would allow victims of the September 11 attacks or their relatives to sue the Saudi government for allegedly helping some of the 19 hijackers.
In July 2012, announced he was lifting the ban on U.S. companies investing in Burma including doing business with the state-controlled Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE). Burma is run by a military committing atrocities against ethnic minorities.
Offered a $1.2 billion deal with South Korea for the sale of four advanced surveillance drones to monitor North Korea.
Introduced a waiver allowing military sales to the Islam Karimov dictatorship in Uzbekistan, one of the most brutal and repressive regimes on the planet, which Congress had banned in 2004 because of its atrocious human-rights violations, in order to improve supply lines to the Afghan war.
Recognized the new government of the Maldives as legitimate after President Mohamed Nasheed was removed in a coup.
Is actively working to help provide financial relief for the genocidal regime in Sudan, trying to facilitate the transfer of $3 billion, encouraging China, Kuwait, Qatar, and possibly others to provide these resources, and waive U.S. sanctions affecting dollar transfers.
Sent 100 Special Forces troops to Uganda to help the Yoweri Museveni dictatorship kill leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Invisible Children, the makers of “KONY 2012”, spied for the Uganda regime and worked with the US Embassy there.
Waived a cutoff of military support for Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan and Yemen, flaunting the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which President George W. Bush signed into law. All four countries forcibly recruit adolescents into military service, removing them from families and homes to fight anti-government forces.
Escalated US threats against Venezuela, issuing an executive order formally declaring a “national emergency” to deal with what he termed “the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States” posed by the Venezuelan government. Began imposing sanctions on Venezuela.
Is keeping Cuba on the State Department’s states that sponsor terrorism list.
Has refused to lift the embargo against Cuba, citing that their government isn’t open enough, as we sell weapons to Saudi Arabia and do business with China, countries far more repressive. The U.S. and Israel were the only 2 countries in the UN to vote for the embargo.
Dispatched Biden to Central America and Mexico to reaffirm that drug legalization is out of the question, which Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia and Mexico have all asked the US to consider.
Is asking Congress to provide money for Black Hawk helicopters and surveillance equipment that Mexico has long sought for its drug war. In 2011 increased the money already spent on the drug war.
Called for a lawsuit to be thrown out against the US for secretly exposing Guatemalans to syphilis, saying the Federal Tort Claims Act protects the US from lawsuits based on injuries suffered in a foreign country, even if the acts were planned in the United States.
Miscellaneous Other International Policies
Granted Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell immunity in the Iraqi woman, Sundus Shaker Saleh’s suit against them for war crimes for planning the invasion of Iraq.
Paid $2.3 million in “blood money” to free Raymond Davis, the CIA spy charged with murder in Pakistan, to relatives of the two men he allegedly killed.
Has denied a visa to Pakistani lawyer Shahzad Akbar who has been invited to speak at an International Drone Summit in Washington DC. Akbar has traveled to the United States in the past before becoming an outspoken critic of drone attacks in Pakistan.
Staged a fake vaccination campaign (the CIA) in Pakistan to help track Osama Bin Laden using local doctors, which led to people avoiding getting polio vaccines and a new outbreak of polio.
Under his watch, while increasing Mexican border patrol agents to a record amount, innocent Mexicans are being shot to death as those agents shoot across the border.
Refused to cooperate with Poland in an investigation into alleged secret CIA prisons in Poland citing national security or national interests.
Waited months to respond to the Guantanamo prisoner’s hunger strike until after the 100 days mark brought publicity. Responded by saying in a speech that prisoners should be released. Two weeks later his first visible response is deploying 125 troops to assist the holding of prisoners in solitary confinement and the force-feeding of 39 hunger strikers.
Appointed Timothy Geithner and Larry Summers to his financial team from the outset, as well as packing it with many of the people who were responsible for the financial crisis and deregulation as well as corporate and bank executives. William Dudley, Gary Gensler, Mark Peterson, Philip Murphy, and Diana Farrell, all from Goldman Sachs, to name a few.
Has never indicated any interest in holding financial criminals accountable. Why isn’t Wall St. in jail? Has, in fact, made the statement that the banks did nothing illegal.
Prosecuted a single banker, Kareem Serageldin, for the Mortgage Crisis, as opposed to the more than 1,000 bankers who were jailed for the Savings and Loan Crisis in the 80’s and early 90’s.
He asked for nothing in return as he bailed out the banks.
Has presided over ongoing virtually unreported trillions of dollars of bank bailouts that dwarf the well publicized $700 billion TARP bailout. Possibly up to $30 trillion.
Decided not to pursue the mortgage fraud case against Goldman Sachs who sold “shitty” (in the words of its own bankers) mortgage-backed securities, then cashed in by betting that the products it was packaging and selling off would implode in value.
Opposes a national moratorium on foreclosures.
Touted the completion of the mortgage foreclosure settlement as a great deal, which, although ultimately better than it was originally drafted, was a great deal for the banks only, some of the $26 billion actually being paid by the taxpayer.
Created the HAMP (Home Affordable Modification Program) which enabled the banks in many cases to profit while offering no relief to the homeowner. Also, after 3 years, only a sliver of the allocated funds have been used.
Introduced a new program to lower monthly mortgage payments for underwater homeowners, which shifts financial liability for refinanced loans from the banks to taxpayers.
Is pressuring NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and others, who are investigating a number of banks for their role in the financial crisis and the mortgage fraud and foreclosure schemes, to submit to a deal that would insulate the banks from all criminal investigations in exchange for some modest civil fines.
Allowed HSBC bank to avoid prosecution and pay a $1.9 billion fine (about one month’s profit). No top HSBC officials will face charges for laundering billions of dollars for Mexican drug cartels and groups linked to al-Qaeda, providing a “gateway for terrorists to gain access to U.S. dollars and the U.S. financial system.”
In the 2012 State of the Union called for the creation of a new financial crimes task force, not mentioning the impotent one created 3 years ago. The new one will be staffed by many of the same people and a total of 55 agents, in comparison to the 1000 FBI agents for the much smaller 80’s savings and loan scandal.
Rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act to review Freddie Mac board minutes and correspondence during Rahm Emanuel’s time as a director.
Was against auditing the Fed. Pushed for and succeeded in weakening financial “reform” bill.
After the 2010 elections, caved on not giving tax cuts for the top 2%. In fact, brokered the deal with Republicans and pressured Democrats to vote for it.
Made a fiscal cliff offer that would permanently extend the Bush tax cuts for incomes of less than $400,000 instead of the $250,000 he campaigned on, includes cuts to Social Security, and would allow the payroll tax holiday to expire. Worst of all, the entire conversation completely avoided everything in the big picture that really makes a difference.
Proposed a cut in corporate taxes from 35% down to 28%.
Ultimately signed into law a new tax deal that makes permanent tax cuts for incomes up to $400,000, includes corporate tax favors, and contains elements that actually raise taxes for lower incomes, while kicking the can down the road on the sequester so in 2 months a new deadline comes up to distract DC and the media from anything meaningful. All of this when waiting until Jan. 3 would have meant dealing with a much more liberal Congress.
In State of the Union called for corporate tax cuts.
Is promoting the Trans-Pacific Partnership Free Trade Agreement, which is being negotiated completely in secret, not counting the 600 corporate lobbyists who have been given “cleared advisor” status. A leaked document revealed a special pact was signed to keep all documents relating to the negotiations secret.
Is keeping the TPP classified for reasons of “national security”, not even allowing Senator Ron Wyden, who is the chairman of the trade committee and who is also on the Senate Intelligence Committee to see it, in spite of him having high security clearance.
Has rejected calls to release the current text of the latest negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) held behind closed doors in Lima, Peru. The TPP would allow corporations to sue governments for financial losses due to a country’s laws.
Is pushing for “Trade Promotion Authority” legislation that would allow him to fast-track trade agreements (the TPP in this case) by giving Congress a yes or no vote but taking away powers to amend which would prevent congressional ability to push for fixes to it.
Pushed for and got Free Trade Agreements with South Korea, Panama, one of the biggest tax havens in the world where the deal would effectively bar the U.S. from cracking down on corporate tax avoidance, and Columbia, where union people are regularly murdered.
Is pressuring Greece and Europe to not allow Greece to decide for themselves by vote whether they want to accept the austerity measures required if they accept a bailout.
Fails to call the Republicans on the fantasy that their budget assault on social programs has anything to do with economics. Maintains the deficit narrative that disguises the real issues and opportunities.
Fraudulently and ultimately ineffectively bailed out General Motors.
Has announced plans to dismantle the Small Business Administration (SBA) by combining it with the Department of Commerce, which represents the interests of the nation’s largest corporate giants. This ostensibly to save money even though the SBA budget is $985 million, a drop in the bucket compared to the $530.6 billion defense budget.
Signed and praised the JOBS Act, the brainchild of the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, which further deregulates and facilitates more fraud.
Secrecy and Free Speech
From 2009 to 2010, increased the amount of classified documents by 40%, then by another 20% from 2010 to 2011, (92,064,862 in 2011) the most ever, according to the Information Security Oversight Office.
Has done little to add transparency to the executive branch. In fact in his first year, denied significantly more Freedom of Information Act requests than Bush did in 2008 and has increased denials through 2012. Has also slowed response time; requests asked for expeditiously under a FOIA provision, are received, on average, in two years.
Has been more aggressive than Bush in seeking to punish unauthorized press leaks. Has been using the Espionage Act of 1917 to press criminal charges in six alleged instances of national-security leaks and whistle blowing – twice as many prosecutions as have occurred in all previous administrations combined.
Has declared Julian Assange an enemy of the state, and now military personnel who contact WikiLeaks or WikiLeaks supporters may be at risk of being charged with “communicating with the enemy”, a military crime that carries a maximum sentence of death.
Pressured Visa and MasterCard, PayPal and Western Union to cut off WikiLeaks ability to raise money through them. This without any due process.
Placed a ban on military personnel viewing the WikiLeaks website.
Personally, on camera, declared Manning guilty before any trial has taken place.
Held Bradley Manning in torturous conditions. Charged him with “aiding the enemy.” Denied a U.N. torture investigator an unmonitored visit.
Has done and said nothing about the fact that Bradley Manning will have been imprisoned for nearly 1,000 days when his scheduled court-martial begins, far longer than the legally allowed 120 days.
Charged former CIA agent, John Kiriakou, with four felony counts for having allegedly disclosed classified information to reporters about the CIA’s interrogation/torture program.
Fired Peter Van Buren, a foreign service officer who wrote a book criticizing the reconstruction effort in Iraq, based on eight charges, among which is linking on his blog to documents on WikiLeaks.
Charged Edward Snowden with espionage (the 7th person he has so charged) and is bullying countries around the world to turn him over.
Accused the Russians of providing a “propaganda platform” when Snowden called a meeting with human rights representatives in the Moscow airport.
Probably because Snowden used it, forced the shutdown of Lavabit, an email service that doesn’t share information with the government, apparently giving the owner, Ladar Levison, the choice of sharing information or shutting down. We can’t know details because he isn’t allowed to talk about it.
Refused to promise Snowden he could have a “public interest defense trial”, a promise he insists on, as a condition for him to return to the United States.
After the Snowden revelations, set up an “independent group” to review the NSA and named James Clapper, who lied under oath to Congress, to head the “high level group of outside experts”. Appointed to the group were: Michael Morell (CIA for 33 years), Richard Clarke (held high positions under Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush), Peter Swire (former Obama staffer) and Cass Sunstein (former Obama staffer who wrote a paper calling for government agents to “enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories”).
Created the Insider Threat Program which requires any government agency handling classified material to “implement an insider threat detection and prevention program.” Federal employees who blow the whistle on wrong doings or co-workers who fail to report them could face penalties, including criminal charges.
Has been harassing, detaining and confiscating equipment from journalists at the border who challenge the status quo.
Invited the Washington bureau heads of major news outlets to meet for off-the-record talks, meaning none could report on what was said.
Miscellaneous Secrecy and Free Speech
Has not shown any interest in getting rid of the Patriot Act.
Appealed the Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project case to the Supreme Court, which multiple lower courts had declared unconstitutional. The pro Holder decision extended the Patriot Act law against “material support” to terrorist organizations to include speech even if used to advocate the use of international law and other non-violent means to reduce conflict.
Did not veto the 2012 defense bill (NDAA) that enables anyone to be imprisoned without any due process whatsoever if they are deemed to be a threat to the state. Worse, he had originally threatened to veto the bill because it took the ultimate power away from the president.
After a federal judge granted an injunction to block provisions of the 2012 (NDAA) that would allow the military to indefinitely detain anyone, asked the judge to lift the injunction.
Decided in May 2009 to block the release of photos showing the mistreatment of detainees by US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Signed the 2013 defense bill (NDAA) that retains the erosion of civil liberties in the 2012 version. The law continues for one more year a ban on appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees to the mainland US, even for trial. It also continues tough conditions on the transfer of detainees (86 have been cleared for release) to other countries.
Social and Domestic Issues
Dramatically expanded the surveillance state.
Is presiding over the most extensive domestic surveillance ever including the NSA’s gigantic center in Bluffdale, Utah which will contain near-bottomless databases of communications including private emails, cell phone calls, Google searches and more, of innocent Americans.
Has defended and fully embraced the executive branch’s right to wiretap. Has continued efforts to dismiss a case against the government’s authority to wiretap.
Fully embraced the unchecked executive powers and secretive surveillance capabilities built into the FISA Amendment Act, while fighting against several domestic spying safeguard amendments that were put forth and ultimately defeated. Signed it into law.
Has invoked the state secrets privilege in an effort to have a suit against the FBI for surveilling several southern Californian mosques dismissed.
Continued a program called “PRISM” where the NSA and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio and video chats, photographs, e-mails, documents, and connection logs.
Has the NSA sharing information that they have gotten from domestic surveillance with the DEA and local law enforcement and compelling them to use parallel construction; falsifying evidence and denying people of fair trials.
Is conducting a massive domestic surveillance program by collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers, including all calling records on an “ongoing, daily basis,” using a controversial provision in the Patriot Act, Section 215.
Required telecommunications companies to turn over two months of phone records on some 20 lines used by Associated Press reporters, and defends it as within his right and necessary.
Approved a new list of guidelines greatly extending the time – from 180 days to 5 years – that domestic intelligence services can retain American citizens’ private information, even when “there is no suspicion that they are tied to terrorism.”
Has, through the Justice department, sidestepped questions about whether it endorses the NYPD’s tactics of infiltration and surveillance of Muslims, while the NYPD gets federal funds and CIA training.
Spied on Fox News reporter James Rosen in 2010, collecting his telephone records, tracking his movements in and out of the State Department and seizing personal emails.
Under him, the National Security Agency (NSA) has refused to tell Senators Mark Udall and Ron Wyden, both members of the Senate’s intelligence oversight committee, how many Americans it was spying on, claiming it would violate the privacy of the Americans it was spying on.
Wants the Supreme Court to dismiss an ACLU challenge to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Amendments Act, an act that ACLU contends allows surveillance of Americans’ international communications without the safeguards the Constitution requires.
Authorized the assassination of U.S. citizens with no oversight and no due process of any kind. Tried to get a judge to throw out a lawsuit challenging the administration’s assertion that it can assassinate U.S. citizens anywhere in the world.
Carried out the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, and Samir Khan, American citizens, superseding the Fifth Amendment, “No person shall be deprived of life without due process of law”. Days later killed Awlaki’s 16 year old son. Later, using the Nixon “when the President does it, that means that it is not illegal” logic, argued that if the president decides something is necessary, that is “due process.”
Codified the legality of the government to assassinate Americans if “an informed, high-level official of the U.S. government” determines the target is an imminent threat, when capture would be infeasible.
Has continued proxy detention; US citizens are picked up on foreign soil by local officials at the behest of the US government, where they are questioned with FBI co-ordination. Some of these US citizens are not allowed to return to the US.
Argued that the police be allowed to place a GPS tracking device on people’s vehicles without a warrant and sought to overturn an appeals court ruling that it is illegal. The Supreme Court decided against it being legal.
Has avoided questions about the extensive NYPD surveillance of American Muslims, and his top counterterrorism adviser, John Brennan, praised the New York Police Department’s work.
Has loosened restrictions on the FBI; allowing them more leeway to search databases, go through household trash or use surveillance teams, even when there is no evidence of wrongdoing.
Signed the July 6, 2012 executive order, “Assignment of National Security and Emergency Preparedness Communications Functions,” which gives the Department of Homeland Security the power to seize all communication systems in the United States, private, public or commercial, under any terms the government deems fit.
Only the most token support of ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. Challenged the court ruling that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is unconstitutional.
Won’t take a stand on constitutional protection of gays’ right to marry; says it’s a state issue. Challenged a court ruling that a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.
Has cracked down on medical marijuana more than any other president.
Has pressured and threatened state officials who have begun to adopt more progressive marijuana laws.
Opposed California’s 2010 marijuana legalization proposition. Said if it passed they would still prosecute Californians under federal law.
Has continued to carry out raids on medical marijuana distributors. July, 2011 announced they would start prosecuting state legal medical marijuana distributors.
October 2011, DOJ is intensifying its crackdown on medical marijuana in California, giving at least 16 dispensaries 45 days to shut down to avoid criminal prosecution.
The Fast and Furious operation, in which federal agents allowed guns to be smuggled into Mexico in order to trace them to the leaders of drug cartels, happened on his watch and he’s done nothing to investigate it.
Asserted executive privilege, refusing to turn over some documents sought by the congressional panel investigating the botched Fast and Furious gun-running sting.
DEA has been laundering Mexican drug money in order to follow the money to get the top players, but after years of doing this hasn’t made a single sting, allowing the trade to go on.
During the health care debate, cut a deal with the pharmaceutical industry to put a ceiling on the amount of money the government could save by negotiating for lower drug prices. And gave them a number of promises not to compromise their profits.
Never pushed for public option in health care. In general made sure that the private health care system funneling money to major corporations remained intact. The day it passed health care industry stocks went up.
Supported the Health and Human Services blocking the FDA’s recommendation to make Plan B One-Step birth control available over-the-counter. Significantly the HHS has never before overruled the FDA on a drug recommendation.
Backed down from a proposal to protect health from Big Tobacco under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). New language will make it even easier for governments to be sued for their tobacco regulations. Corporations will have the right to directly sue governments.
Is still having people cited for marijuana use on Federal land in states where marijuana is legal.
Reversed his decision on Plan B One Step deciding to allow it to be available to women under 17, while giving Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. exclusive rights to sell it for three years, ensuring that it will be very expensive for the next three years.
Has deported a record amount of immigrants. Sent many back to Honduras, an extremely violent country since the US backed coup in 2014. ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is totally out of control, deporting people without process and illegally. As well as deporting US citizens in some cases.
Housed immigrants in deplorable conditions, with the average daily population hovering between 30,000 and 40,000.
His only contribution to the issue of gun control has been that he signed a bill into law that allows people to carry loaded concealed guns in national parks. In 2010, the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence gave the president a report card of seven F’s.
In an otherwise excellent push to make gun laws rational, called for more school resource officers. SROs are specially trained armed law enforcement officers who are assigned to school campuses and have been arresting students for dress code violations, tardiness, throwing paper airplanes and normal children rowdiness and misbehavior.
Will not seek the reinstatement of a U.S. assault weapons ban.
Became the first Democratic president in history, with his 2014 budget proposal, to target Social Security. It also cuts over $350 billion from Medicare, $19 billion from Medicaid, and tens of millions from the heating assistance program for low-income Americans.
In a big jobs speech called for cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
The 2011 budget proposed cuts from energy assistance fund for the poor, a community-service block grant program, college grants for low income students, and other social programs, while increasing military spending and requesting $54 billion in funding for construction of nuclear power plants and $60 billion for 12 new nuclear submarines.
Miscellaneous Social and Domestic Issues
Has continued the expansion of the “1033 Program”, the militarization of civil police departments started under Bush. More than $500 million of military gear went to U.S. police in 2011; up from $212 million in 2010. 2012’s orders are up 400 percent.
Has loaned police departments drones to use.
Oversaw the expansion of for-profit prisons.
Helped crush the Occupy Wall Street movement by coordinating the FBI, Homeland Security, and the banks to work together in one of the most blatant cases of using force against peaceful protesters to protect private corporate interests.
Said during the dedication of the Martin Luther King Memorial, “Progress came with the smack of billy clubs” as we now watch that in the Occupy movement and he’s been silent.
After strong words in the State of the Union about voting reform, created a commission that really just delays any action and appointed as co-head of the commission Ben Ginsberg who was the lawyer for the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush-Cheney ‘04 campaign and the lawyer for the effort to delay Al Franken’s entry to the Senate for months.
Has not stood up for internet neutrality. No criticism of Genachowski’s December 2010 corporate friendly proposal. Spun the final FCC vote as a victory for net neutrality.
Has done little or nothing progressive to get rid of Bush’s No Child Left Behind’s demands on schools and standardized school testing and the increasing movement towards privatizing schools.
Is Commander in Chief presiding over a military whose abuse and neglect of veterans is extensive, including misdiagnosis on purpose to avoid paying benefits and other neglect further distressing returning veterans.
Under his watch, since taking office through December 2012, the amount of veterans waiting more than a year to get their benefits has risen from 11,000 to 245,000.
Voted against a UN General Assembly committee resolution calling for a moratorium on executions, while a record 110 countries voted in support of it.
Is offering access to the President 4 times a year and other meetings at the White House to anybody contributing over $500,000 to Organizing for Action (OFA), the successor of his 2012 re-election campaign and of Organizing for America.
In June 2016, Congress and President signed the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management, and Economic Stability Act (or PROMESA), which placed an unelected seven-member (non-Puerto Rican) board in total control of all important policy.
Big Oil and Other Fossil Fuels
Pitiful response to the BP spill; caved to BP about dispersant use; never made them comply with cleanup mandates. August Gulf oil spin: “The well is capped. The oil is almost gone.”
Squelched attempts by NOAA scientists to make public the agency’s estimate of how much oil could spew from the BP well (which turned out to be accurate) while proffering very low estimates.
During the BP oil spill enacted (the US Coast Guard) strong rules that prevented the media from showing what was happening with the oil spill in the Gulf Coast.
Appointed William Reilly, of ConocoPhillips, to head up the team to investigate the BP disaster.
Ended the deep water drilling moratorium 7 weeks early.
Under Obama, following Japan’s nuclear debacle, there was a huge surge in deep water oil drilling licenses. Claims to have addressed the safety issues but the same faulty blowout preventers are still being used.
OK’ed a record number of new drilling leases in his first year.
Allowed new off-shore drilling permits after the Gulf disaster began. Is allowing BP’s Liberty drilling project in the Beaufort Sea off the coast of Alaska.
OK’ed new oil drilling leases in Alaska’s Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to Shell.
October 2011, decided to uphold nearly 500 leases issued for drilling in the Chukchi Sea, which had been tied up in court since 2008, when Bush had approved them.
Has not yet rejected the Keystone XL pipeline. 8 of Keystone XL pipeline lobbyists had worked on Obama and Clinton’s presidential campaigns.
After rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline when given a decision deadline by Congress, welcomed the construction of its southern leg, saying he would work to expedite permits.
Presided over rising oil production in each of the years he was in office. From the level of U.S. oil production in 2008, it has grown by 88% during Obama’s presidency, the largest domestic oil production increase during any presidency in U.S. history.
Said in a speech on energy at the TransCanada Stillwater Pipe Yard near Cushing, Oklahoma in 2012, “I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.”
Is prosecuting Tim DeChristopher for bidding on and winning oil leases he had no intention of paying for, although more than 25 previous bidders have failed to pay free of consequences. The auction itself was illegally rushed through in Bush’s final days and was invalidated by the Department of the Interior and payments were returned to the winning bidders.
Approved 42 of 48 mine projects that it had reviewed by June 2009, including some of the most controversial mountaintop removal mines.
Issued a rule that will for the first time require disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, BUT instead of the original proposal’s stating that the companies must do this 30 days before they drill, now they have until after they have completed drilling.
Favors nuclear plants, fracking, and “clean coal”.
Called for triple the amount of subsidies Bush instigated for new nuclear reactors. After the nightmare in Japan, he is still promoting nuclear energy.
March 2011, after Fukushima, wants to open up huge coal strip mines in Wyoming. Not a word about a surge in green energy.
Intends to establish so-called ‘centralized interim storage’ away from reactors for highly radioactive waste, which means a huge number of risky high-level radioactive waste shipments, by truck, train, and barge, all to later be shipped to a permanent site.
Nature, Animals, Clean Air
Called in a speech for less environmental government regulations.
A new proposal for National Forest management weakens Reagan’s plan now in place.
Has weakened 80% of the EPA recommended environmental, health and safety protections at the behest of industry lobbying through the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, or OIRA, a higher percentage than George Bush.
Overruled the EPA to withdraw a proposed regulation to reduce ozone in smog, using the classic Republican argument that regulations are bad for the economy. The regulations now revert to a standard worse than what Bush had proposed. This after he had convinced the American Lung Association to drop a suit against the EPA because he would improve the standards.
Signed into law H.R. 933 containing the “Monsanto Protection Act.” The provision allows agribusiness giant Monsanto to promote and plant genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and genetically engineered (GE) seeds, free from any judicial litigation that might decide the crops are unsafe.
Gave Monsanto USAID money to give to and hook Haiti on non-reproducing hybrid seeds.
His top trade official, Michael Froman, is lobbying Europe to weaken its environmental protections when it comes to accepting tar sands exports, supporting the objections of oil industry groups, who are threatening to try to push the U.S. into trade action against the EU if the climate rules are adopted.
Played a totally non-constructive, even obstructive role at the 2011 Durban Climate Conference including no support of the Kyoto Protocol. Suggested postponing any legal binding action on climate change until 2020.
Contributed to the failure of the 2012 Rio+20 Earth Summit, insisting upon deleting any mention of rights or equity or of common but differentiated responsibilities and concepts such as “unsustainable consumption and production patterns” and the proposed decoupling of economic growth from the use of natural resources.
Played an obstructive role at the 2012 Doha Climate Conference, refusing to make any commitments, rejecting the idea of equity enshrined in the principles of the Convention and refusing to be part of a future protocol on emission cuts. Pushed back on long-term finance for developing countries.
Pressured the Pacific island nation of Palau to drop its attempt to seek an Advisory Opinion from the International Court of Justice on whether countries have a legal responsibility to ensure that activities on their territory that emit greenhouse gases do not harm other States.
Filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization over China’s wind-power subsidies, while doing nothing to shift our subsidies from the nuke, oil, and coal industries to clean energy industries.
Gave Apache Alaska Corporation the green light to proceed to launch a deafening airgun assault as it explores for oil and gas in Cook Inlet, Alaska, home to 284 endangered beluga whales.
Is opening up the mid- and south Atlantic to high-intensity seismic exploration (sonic blasts that will repeat every 10 to 12 seconds and could last years) for oil and gas for the first time in 30 years; a nightmare for whales, dolphins, and other marine life.
Is building a military base (more under Other International Policies above) on Jeju Island, South Korea, home to the greatest number of UNESCO geoparks in the world. It has 6 unique biospheres, endangered species of marine life, the world’s finest lava tube cave system, and soft-coral reefs that are now being dredged to get U.S. warships into the port.
Proposed cuts to organic farming, endangered species, and conservation programs.
Opposes a case over the ability of states and groups such as the Audubon Society that want to sue large electric utilities and force power plants in 20 states to cut their emissions.
Is delaying the implementation of new regulations on smog and toxic industrial boiler emissions.
Reneging on a promise to pursue better protections of our waters from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), has withdrawn a proposed EPA rule that would have required the most basic reporting from over 20,000 highly polluting and largely unregulated factory farms; part of an industry that is the largest contributor of pollutants to our waterways.
Has awarded more than 179,000 “categorical exclusions” to stimulus projects funded by federal agencies, freeing those projects from review under the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
In summation, Obama is totally old school. Same old corporate interests, same old lying to and manipulation of the American public, same old bloody war machine, same old blind support of Israel, same old support of brutal regimes and dictators, same old U.S. might is right imperial attitude and bullying behavior in the world, same old war on drugs, same old plundering of the earth, same old promoting of narratives that draw attention away from the real issues he has no interest in being held accountable for, same old hypocrisy, same old disdain for real democracy.
In short, he is supporting just about everything that is fucking the whole world up.
And an unfortunate corollary to what he has personally done is that he’s given rise to the phenomenon that by being Democrat and not being challenged by his own party, his presidency has solidified the horrors of the Bush administration into acceptable mainstream policy and political activity.
In addition, his use of Orwellian language has become an everyday occurrence as he finds the right language to ignore pretty much any law or any part of the constitution he chooses.
The Obama Doctrine
Guilty by presidential decree. – Publicly declared Bradley Manning guilty before any trial.
The President can take an American citizen’s life at his choosing because if the President so decides, that is “due process.” – Eric Holder justifying Obama killing American citizens with drones.
We are not at war if no Americans are getting hurt. – Justifying bombing Libya longer than the War Powers Act allows.
The right to defend one’s countries only applies to who he wants it to. – Stating Israel has a right to defend itself against Palestinian rockets while clearly not granting the same right to the Palestinians or to any of the number of countries that we bomb regularly and relentlessly.
The job of Secretary of State is to keep the empire powerful. – Praising John Kerry, when nominating him for Secretary of State, this is Obama’s view of the job: “As we turn the page on a decade of war, he understands that we’ve got to harness all elements of American power and ensure that they’re working together.” And praised outgoing Hilary Clinton for her “tireless work to restore our global leadership.”
If, while exercising your right to free speech, it isn’t what the government thinks should be said, it is propaganda. – Blamed Russia for giving Snowden a “propaganda platform” when he spoke at the Moscow airport.
Laws have no meaning if the law itself doesn’t specifically require the language in the law to be defined. – Regarding Egypt’s military’s overthrow of Morsi and the law prohibiting military aid to a government after a coup, the White House said, “The law does not require us to make a formal determination as to whether a coup took place, and it is not in our national interest to make such a determination.”
As an imperial force the United States takes what it wants. – Addressing the United Nations he said, “Let me take this opportunity to outline what has been U.S. policy towards the Middle East and North Africa, and what will be my policy during the remainder of my presidency. The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region. We will confront external aggression against our allies and partners, as we did in the Gulf War. We will ensure the free flow of energy from the region to the world.”
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