Noam Chomsky: Smoke and Mirrors, or Civil Liberties Under President Obama
Wednesday, 24 April 2013 00:00 By Mike Stivers, Truthout | Interview
President Obama.(Photo: Pete Souza / White House)Mike Stivers for Truthout: Anyone following issues of civil liberties under Obama knows that his administration’s policies have been disastrous. The signing of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which effectively legalizes indefinite detention of US citizens, the prosecution of more whistleblowers than any previous president, the refusal to close Guantanamo, and the adoption of ruthless positions in trials such as Hedges vs. Obama and Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project don’t even encapsulate the full extent of the flagrant violations of civil, political and constitutional rights. One basic question that a lot of people seem to be asking is, why? What’s the rationale?
Noam Chomsky: That’s a very interesting question. I personally never expected anything of Obama, and wrote about it before the 2008 primaries. I thought it was smoke and mirrors. The one thing that did surprise me is his attack on civil liberties. They go well beyond anything I would have anticipated, and they don’t seem easy to explain. In many ways the worst is what you mention, Holder vs. Humanitarian Law Project. That’s an Obama initiative and it’s a very serious attack on civil liberties. He doesn’t gain anything from it – he doesn’t get any political mileage out of it. In fact, most people don’t even know about it, but what it does is extend the concept of “material assistance to terror” to speech.
The case in question was a law group that was giving legal advice to groups on the terrorist list, which in itself has no moral or legal justification; it’s an abomination. But if you look at the way it’s been used, it becomes even more abhorrent (Nelson Mandela was on it until a couple of years ago.) And the wording of the colloquy is broad enough that it could very well mean that if, say, you meet with someone in a terrorist group and advise them to turn to nonviolent means, then that’s material assistance to terrorism. I’ve met with people who are on the list and will continue to do so, and Obama wants to criminalize that, which is a plain attack on freedom of speech. I just don’t understand why he’s doing it.
“While We Were Sleeping”
Orwell Rolls In His Grave, featuring MCM – Buy the DVD
About News From Underground
News From Underground is a daily e-news service run by Mark Crispin Miller, a Professor of Culture and Communication at NYU. It is based on his belief that academics, like reporters, have a civic obligation to help keep the people well-informed, so that American democracy might finally work.
If you'd like to receive updates delivered to your inbox daily, sign up for News From Underground Alerts:
Help News From Underground!
Message from Mark: "I am a one-man operation, although assisted greatly by some volunteers, and, now and then, by people paid by others for one-time projects. There is no shortage of skilled, dedicated folks out there who want to help me. There is, however, nothing I can pay them with, unless you decide you can contribute something."
Please donate via the PayPal button above or via PayPal by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Russian Air Force hit 10 ISIS targets in the last 24 hours (VIDEOS)
- Why is Putin bombing ISIS? Because the US isn’t bombing them at all! (And why is that?))
- Who’s Donald Trump? Watch the documentary that he suppressed for 25 years!
- 50 years ago, Suharto slaughtered over 500,000 Indonesians—with US help, or guidance (all still hidden)
- There may be water flowing on Mars! (But is there intelligent life on Earth?)
- Don’t buy these products from Koch Industries! on
- Wisconsin to buy “all new voting machines”—and Koch/Walker will go on “winning” there FOREVER! on
- Please SIGN Elizabeth Warren’s petition to halt “fast track” of TPP! on
- 2nd Amendment was devised to keep Americans in chains on
- Update on the strange death of Nancy Schaefer on
- Forbidden Bookshelf
- Don't buy these products from Koch Industries!
- Why is Putin bombing ISIS? Because the US isn't bombing them at all! (And why is that?))
- NY Fed moving to Chicago, Feds stocking up on ammo, NORAD hunkering down: What's up?
- Who's Donald Trump? Watch the documentary that he suppressed for 25 years!
- History Unfolding
- alias Bruce
- Words of Power
- t r u t h o u t
- Barry Gordon
- Writers Voice
- Early America
- Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
- Mainstream Baptist
- The Ostroy Report
- William Betz
- Democratic Undergroud
- Online Journal
- Media Channel
- Richard Charnin
- Media Matters
- The Rude Pudit
Need a bigger font size?
- Your link could be here too, contact us for pricing details.