JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
This piece is dedicated to Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald for their attempt to preserve our liberties by law in the People's Bill of Rights.
In case you didn't catch the irony of the title, "Tear down this wall!" was the challenge issued by President Ronald Reagan to Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to destroy the Berlin Wall, June 12th 1987, as a demand to increase freedom in the Eastern Bloc, freedom to come and go as one pleases, and freedom from state controlled surveillance.
My, my, my—how the tables have turned, no?
Protesters around the world are demanding that President Obama fulfill his 2008 promise to shut down Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, a prison known for torture and abuse, and for its illegal "indefinite detention" practice.
Guantanamo Bay Prison stands as a blatant violation of Constitutional Laws. So how did it happen in the first place?
Worst still, Obama's National Defense Authorization Act made certain that American citizens can also be held indefinitely without trial or charge. The Patriot Act pales by comparison to the NDAA. President Obama used Executive Action to pass it into law on New Year's Day 2012—as if it were something to celebrate. He refuses, however, to take Executive Action for shutting down GITMO. Morally speaking, the president doesn't seem to know right from wrong.
As the president emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights, Michael Ratner, put it: "Barack Obama is the first president ever in the United States to sign into law indefinite detention as part of the policy of the United States."
Prior to the signing of the NDAA, in 2011 Barack Obama abandoned a commitment to veto a new security law that allows the military to indefinitely detain without trial American terrorism suspects arrested on US soil who could then be shipped to Guantánamo Bay. In other words, Americans, thanks to Obama, are no longer protected under the Constitution.
It's absolutely shocking when you think about it: The US government arrested individuals with no proof of guilt, without trial or charge, locked them away, tortured them, and is holding them in prison "indefinitely" under the Patriot Act and the NDAA.
As to the view, "Well that applies to them (suspects from the Middle East) and not us..." Wrong. Americans have no constitutional protections under the Patriot Act / NDAA.
On reflection, one wonders if members of Congress would have voted for the Patriot Act had it been titled: The Gestapo Act.
Contrary to his many campaign promises to close down GITMO, Harvard constitutional law professor, Barack Obama, conceded to abolish more human rights in the name of national security than even his predecessor, George W. Bush. Those inalienable rights, our Bill of Rights, have served us well over the course of three hundred years through peace and war times. But that changed after Bush and Obama entered the White House.
In short, the laws in our Constitution are intended to constrain excessive abuses of power.
The Constitution prohibits by law the emergence of a dictatorship, a fascist police state, a totalitarian state, a surveillance state, an oligarchy, and/or all forms of oppression. We've all learned by now that Monica Lewinsky was not a threat to Republic.
The Authors of the Constitution wanted to make damn sure that Europe's history of oppression would end at the shores of America, such as detaining individuals without trial or charge, political persecutions of ethical whistle-blowers, torture, or implementing a secret surveillance program that interferes with every single person's privacy.
The Constitution protects our individual rights from an abusive government that spies on its citizens; it protects by law the democratic process.
Thus by the Laws of the Land, the U.S. Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Obama White House, like his predecessors from the Bush-Cheney administration, is guilty of committing high crimes or impeachable offenses for detaining individuals indefinitely without trial, for crimes against humanity (torture), and for secretly protecting a widespread surveillance operation, and then lying about how it is used on Americans and world leaders.
The evidence is in on Barack Obama when he lied to the world on Charlie Rose that the NSA was not spying on Americans via all forms of communication services when he knew the opposite was true.
So the question is why would Obama rely on the Constitution to shut GITMO down when he's spent the last six years signing laws that undermine the Constitution?
It's a catch-22, is it not? The NDAA/Patriot Act and the Bill of Rights are mutually exclusive. You cannot have it both ways. You have to choose: fascist police Gestapo or the US Constitution / Bill of Rights.
The Bill of Rights provides all the necessary legal justifications to shut GITMO down. There is nothing complicated about it. So what's the problem? Let me repeat the obvious paradox: You cannot have laws that undermine the Constitution and at the same time "uphold and defend the Constitution."
It's interesting to note that Obama signed the extension of the Patriot Act in addition to the NDAA without hesitation. He vetoed reforms in the Patriot Act without a blink of the eye. But when it comes to acting on moral authority to do the "right thing," the president runs as far as he can to avoid taking action. He is what philosopher, Albert Camus, would call "a coward, acting on bad faith." Whenever it comes to doing the right thing, the name of Obama's game is stall, stall, stall...
"Obama did blame Congress last year when Congress changed the law in a way that gives the president more flexibility to transfer detainees," explained David H. Remes, a lawyer working for Appeal for Justice for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. "He cannot blame Congress anymore. He has the funds, there is no question about that, to send the detainees home. He has the flexibility to do that. He simply does not have the courage."
In order to shut down GITMO, the president would have to legally acknowledge the Bill of Rights—and that's the last thing he wants to do. After all, trillions of tax dollars and millions of lives have been lost from a decade of US invasions, oil wars, CIA black torture sites, NSA surveillance, etc. etc. Huge investments in erecting and protecting the US corporate oligarchy, and completing a fascist police state for "undesirables" would be threatened if Obama were to suddenly give validity to the Constitution!
As Glenn Greenwald wrote in his newly released book No Place to Hide, "The US government had worked very hard over the past decade to demonstrate unlimited power. It had started wars, tortured, drone-bombed targets in extrajudicial killings...whistle blowers had been abused and prosecuted; journalists had been threatened with jail. Through a carefully cultivated display of intimidation to anyone who contemplated a meaningful challenge, the government had striven to show people around the world that its power was constrained by neither law nor ethics, neither morality nor the Constitution: look what we can do and will do to those who impede our agenda."
Greenwald's summary possibly provides the "unspoken reason" why Obama won't shut GITMO down. Maybe he wants the world to see, by keeping it open, that the "US government is constrained by neither law nor ethics, neither morality nor the Constitution: look what we can do and will do to those who impede our agenda."
It's kind of laughable to see President Obama criticize President Putin, who holds an 85% approval rating in Russia, when Obama has yet to fulfill a single campaign promise to my knowledge.
Check it out: A Must Read Assessment of Obama's Long List of Broken Promises in the Pulitzer Prize winning paper Tampa Bay Times.
The other day at the market, I couldn't miss the tabloid covers of Michelle Obama "screaming for a divorce." Well, if it's true, join the club, given Obama's low approval ratings, down to 41%, the majority of Americans and global community also want to divorce Barack Obama.
But to be fair, we can't blame everything that's gone wrong in this country on Obama. Congress and the Supreme Court Justices are also to blame:
What happened to the meaning of swearing on the Bible to uphold and defend the Constitution?
Every single congressperson, every senator that voted for the Patriot Act, Bush, Obama and members from their administrations should all be impeached and arrested for committing high crimes and misdemeanors. Lord knows there's plenty of evidence to prove that they have all radically violated their sacred oaths to "uphold and defend the Constitution."
As usual, the people are right and the leaders are wrong. I applaud the protesters' efforts for applying pressure on Obama to do the right thing, to tear down GITMO's walls, to shut this monstrosity of a torture prison down once and for all.
Incidentally, Guantanamo Bay prison has cost the American taxpayer $4.8 billion since it opened in 2002, and an average of $493 million every year for the last five years.
As for our Bill of Rights, no matter how many vile, contemptible and un-American NDAA laws that these corporate fascists attempt to pass behind closed doors, no one person, and no group of usurpers of our Democracy, can abolish what is our God-given, inalienable rights. Bad laws and rulers come and go, but humane laws that are founded on self-evident truths, on a Higher Law of Justice, are eternal.
At the end of the day, the Constitution will win, and they will lose.
Editor Mark Karlin's interview with Beatrice Edwards at Truthout.org: Six Reasons to Be Afraid of the Private Sector/Government Security State
Jacqueline Marcus is a contributing guest writer for Buzzflash at Truthout.org. She's the editor of ForPoetry.com and EnvironmentalPress.com and author of Close to the Shore by Michigan State University Press. Her E-book, Man Cannot Live on Oil, Alone: Time to end our dependency on oil before it ends us, is available at Kindle Books.