Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Obama criticised for continuing civil rights 'violations' introduced by Bush (Where's that change again?)

The Obama administration has disappointed civil rights campaigners who had expected him to reverse most of the post-9/11 restrictions introduced by the Bush administration.

On becoming president in January 2009, Obama promised to close Guantánamo Bay within a year. He did order an end to waterboarding but Guantánamo remains open and almost all the rest of the Bush era anti-terrorism apparatus, from the Patriot Act through to increased surveillance is still in place.

Measures once considered only for emergency use are being consolidated.

"I did not like it when the violations of rights were temporary but now, because of Obama going along with the changes, they are becoming a permanent fixture of our legal landscape," said Michael Ratner, president emeritus of the Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), which has been battling since the civil rights campaigns of the 1960s.

Ratner, who was among the first, small group of lawyers to fight on behalf of the Guantánamo detainees, said Obama had the chance to close Guantánamo but became weak-kneed about it. "Indefinite detention, restrictions on habeas corpus, rendition, all these continue under Obama. We still have military commissions under Obama." more