Janet C. Phelan, Contributing Writer
With this assassination of Osama bin Laden under his belt, President Obama has fulfilled yet another of his campaign promises. It was during the Presidential debates when then Presidential-hopeful Obama solemnly declared: “We will track down Osama bin Laden and kill him.”
And it was at that precise moment that my decision was made–I would not be casting my vote for Barrack Obama.
The issue of who initiated the attacks of 9/11 has deeply polarized the U.S. and it is not the intent of this reporter to dive into that briarpatch at this point in time. Rather, it is the implications of his statement that merit revisiting– that a man who would be President expressed such disdain for our legal system, a system which vehemently protects the accused until he is proven guilty in a court of law. And to add to my growing unease, this Presidential hopeful proudly declared himself to be a Constitutional scholar.
By making that declaration during his bid for the Presidency, Obama was clearly pandering to the deep psychic wound inflicted on the United States by the events of September 11. Obama played a psychological card with his kill-call, a card which revealed an opportunistic mindset which considers Constitutional protections to be irrelevant
And I remember wondering, who will he go after next?
It didn’t take long for that question to be answered. In 2010, Obama ordered the targeted assassination of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born Muslim cleric. As reported in the UK telegraph at the time, “officials now argue privately that Americans who side with the country’s enemies are not ultimately “entitled to special protections”…..Dennis Blair, the director of US national intelligence, confirmed that its security agencies had the authority, having obtained specific permission, to kill American citizens if they posed a direct threat to the United States.”
While some argue that these two men, Osama and Al-Awlaki, are “enemy combatants,” it has become clear that the war on terror has redefined the concept of a battlefield. No longer restricted to a physical location, defined by longitude and latitude, where men draw arms and attempt to diminish, if not destroy, an enemy army, the “war on terror” has broadened the concept of the battlefield to include the entire world. In this world wide war, assassination is now an acceptable weapon against a “terrorist”–who is a person who has not been so determined by a bonafide legal proceeding but only through a dictum of a head of State.
In other words, The Red Queen had nothing on Obama. The nemesis of Alice in Wonderland, the mad Red Queen, also cried “Off with her head!”
We can only expect that the “terrorist” designation will expand outward. Indeed, in 2007 Jane Harman sponsored the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, which passed in the House but failed in the Senate. Dennis Kucinich called the Act a thought- crime bill, containing language which seemed to promote the identification and detention of U.S. citizens who harbored animus towards the stripping of rights which was the fallout from 9/11.
This fallout– the destruction of our Constitutional protections– should be a matter of gravest concern. In 2009, the Department of Justice published a report concerning the surveillance programs launched by Bush after the events of September 11. The report openly admitted that there were two programs in effect, one targeting “the terrorists.” The report declined to discuss “the other” surveillance program, ostensibly targeting us. The unclassified report, in fact, referred to the “other” surveillance program as classified.
The destruction of our freedoms and our rights has been a heavy price to pay. Many Americans are not aware that these Constitutional protections, largely dismantled after September 11 by the passage of the U.S. Patriot Act and concomitant legislation, were in place to protect us NOT from “terrorists” or “Communists” or other bogey men- of- the- moment, but from intrusion and attack by our own government. We are now more vulnerable, more at risk than any other time in U.S. history to abuse of process and actual abuse by agents of the United States itself.
So now that the big bad wolf is dead, what becomes of this massive surveillance and targeting machinery put into motion following 9/11? Does it get dismantled? Now that the arch enemy has been hunted down and slaughtered, are we gonna get our rights back?
Janet Phelan is an investigative journalist whose articles have appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The San Bernardino County Sentinel, The Santa Monica Daily Press, The Long Beach Press Telegram, Oui Magazine and other regional and national publications. Janet specializes in issues pertaining to legal corruption and addresses the heated subject of adult conservatorship, revealing shocking information about the relationships between courts and shady financial consultants. She also covers issues relating to international bioweapons treaties. Her poetry has been published in Gambit, Libera, Applezaba Review, Nausea One and other magazines. Her first book, The Hitler Poems, was published in 2005. She currently resides abroad. You may browse through her articles (and poetry) at janetphelan.com