Democrats turn away from civil liberties

The leadership of the Democratic Party is showing itself to be as hypocritical over civil liberties as the Republican leadership has been about fiscal conservancy. And the finger pointing is coming from the left itself.

Glenn Greenwald, a liberal blogger for, along with The New York Times and even Keith Olbermann, have ripped the Obama administration for ordering the assassination of Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen now living in Yemen, for alleged connections with three of the terrorists who struck on 9/11, the Fort Hood killing and the failed Christmas Day airline bombing.

The assassination order became public earlier this year. The Obama administration ordered the hit without any due process of law, no trial, no conviction or verdict of guilty, just an order for a bullet to the head or a predator drone strike. So much for adherence to the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution.

But the administration isn’t giving much loyalty to the Fourth Amendment either, that pesky little guarantee of people being secure in their houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Mr. Greenwald, in his Sept. 27 Salon blog, “The Obama Administration’s War on Privacy,” says the administration is now seeking the same intrusive powers sought by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emerates to get into the private electronic communication of people who have done no wrong.

Those two countries can’t get into a backdoor to intercept communications made through BlackBerry because of its protocol, so they are banning the devices.

“Those two governments demand the power to intercept and monitor every single form of communication. No human interaction may take place beyond their prying ears,” Mr. Greenwald wrote.

The Bush administration wanted and received powers for warrantless wiretaps, and the current administration is no exception, according to a New York Times story by Charlie Savage:

“[O]fficials want Congress to require all services that enable communications—including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct ‘peer to peer’ messaging like Skype—to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.”

What this means, according to Mr. Greenwald, is that “Internet services could legally exist only insofar as there would be no such thing as truly private communications; all must contain a ‘back door’ to enable government officials to eavesdrop.” (Emphasis added.)

In the same blog, Mr. Greenwald refers to a Washington Post story that the Obama administration wants banks to report all electronic money transfers, no matter how small. By today’s rules, banks are only required to report transfers in excess of $10,000.

Banks would also be required to provide the social security number of those sending and receiving the transfers.

Republicans and Democrats have both put the country into a $13 trillion debt. Gitmo, rendition and warrantless wiretaps under George Bush have now turned to assassination and even more pervasive eavesdropping and loss of privacy under Barack Obama. What is the difference between the two parties?

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