Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How US Leviathan shrinks freedoms

A view of the White House, the official residence and principal workplace of the president of the United States

Source: Press TV

A major American daily highlighted numerous Washington policies adopted since September 11, 2001 that severely reduce civil liberties in the name of national security.

The article, published in the January 14 edition of the Washington Post blasts the annual US government reports that censure rights abuses in other countries, and lists 10 recent US laws that seriously undermine individual rights and freedoms, most notably the recent National Defense Authorization Act, signed by President Barack Obama on December 31, 2011, allowing for the indefinite detention of citizens.

According to the article, US intelligence and judicial procedures have introduced over the past ten years laws and regulations that grant Washington the authority to openly undermine the very principle of liberty in the country and abuse civil liberties that have long served as America's pretexts to launch human rights publicity campaigns against its perceived foes.

Assassination of US citizens

President Barack Obama has extended former President George W. Bush's order to kill "any citizen considered a terrorist or an abettor of terrorism." The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki last year is the latest example of a US citizen falling victim to the practice.

Indefinite detentions

Earlier, Washington signed a practice into law that allows for the incarceration of 'terrorism suspects' by the military forces or upon a presidential order without a trial. Despite wide criticisms against the practice, the White House insists that it will oppose efforts to challenge such authority in federal courts.

Arbitrary justice

Obama maintains the Bush-initiated practice of deciding whether a person should stand trial in the federal courts or in a military tribunal. This is while the system is being widely 'ridiculed' across the world for its lack of basic due process protections.

Warrantless searches

The US president has acquired a sweeping power to order surveillances without justification, including the authority to order companies and organizations to provide the government with information on citizens and conduct searches of everything from business documents to library records.

Secret evidence

The US government has officially made itself entitled to resort to 'secret evidence' to detain individuals and use such evidence in federal and military courts.

It has also used 'national security' as the pretext to dismiss the cases against the United States, contending that the government cannot reveal classified information even to the affected party.

Secret court

The government has extended the scope of its authority to use the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to bring the individuals deemed to be aiding or abetting hostile foreign governments or organizations to trial.

The powers also allow for secret searches of individuals who are not part of an identifiable terrorist group.

War crimes

The Obama administration has insisted that it would not allow the CIA employees to be investigated or prosecuted for waterboarding terrorism suspects during the Bush administration.

The current administration has also reportedly urged foreign governments not to allow any investigation into the war crimes by Bush officials to proceed in their respective countries.

Immunity from judicial review

Both the Bush and Obama administrations have pushed for immunity for companies that conduct warrantless surveillance of citizens. The efforts have deprived the American citizens of their right to challenge the violation of their privacy.

Continual monitoring of citizens

The White House has succeeded to assert its claim that it is authorized to employ GPS devices to monitor all the activities of targeted citizens without a need for court order or review.

Extraordinary renditions

The US government has made itself authorized to transfer both US citizens and noncitizens to a third party country to avoid the legal consequences of torture on American soil. The practice is called by critics as "torture by proxy."

On September 11, 2001, a series of coordinated attacks were carried out in the United States, leaving almost 3,000 people dead.

Many American individuals and organizations still question the official line on what exactly happened on 9/11. Many of them believe that the attacks were either partly or entirely an inside job.

The US, under the Bush administration, invaded Afghanistan in 2001 after claiming that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by members of al-Qaeda harbored by the then Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

The US also attacked Iraq in 2003 claiming that the Middle Eastern country was in possession of weapons of mass destruction; however, after invading the country, the claim proved to have been baseless.

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