‘But as U.S. president for the last 4-1/2 years,Barack Obama has faced accusation after accusation of impinging on civil liberties, disappointing his liberal Democratic base and providing fodder for rival Republicans as he deals with the realities of office.
News in the past week of the federal seizure of phone records from the Associated Press news agency and the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative Tea Party groups, has intensified criticism already simmering over the Guantanamo Bay prison camp and aerial drone strikes abroad.
Asked at a news conference on Tuesday why the administration had not done more for civil liberties, Attorney General Eric Holder said: “I’m proud of what we have done” and emphasized the administration’s shift from Bush era harsh interrogation practices of terrorism suspects that had drawn international criticism.
When he took office in 2009, Obama promised to close the Guantanamo camp for foreign terrorism suspects, but it remains open with 166 detainees, many on hunger strikes in protest at indefinite detentions. Obama said last month he would revisit that pledge and blamed Congress for blocking his plan to close the camp, partly through restrictions on transfers of detainees.
The administration has defended its aerial drone strikes abroad, which have included targeting a U.S.-born terrorism suspect, as essential to the fight against al Qaeda and other militants in places such as Pakistan and Yemen.’
We congratulate President Obama on his re-election. This is his opportunity to reaffirm our constitutional principles and the fundamental American values of due process, respect for the rule of law and individual freedom. It is a time to once again be a nation where we can be both safe and free. We urge President Obama to end warrantless surveillance, extra-judicial killings by drones, indefinite detention and other un-American practices that have become official government policy.
Now is the time to make good the promise he made four years ago to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Closer to home, the president needs to end his administration’s discriminatory deportation policies, which foster racial profiling and do nothing to improve public safety, and remove the many dangerous abortion restrictions from the federal budget so that the right to a safe and legal abortion remains accessible to all women. With four more years in front of him and the history of his presidency yet to be written, President Obama has the opportunity to put us back on the right track.