After the initial Patriot Act was passed, many Democrats perceived the growing threat to civil liberties and started to have misgivings. Now, five years into the Obama presidency enthusiasm for these measures seems to be bipartisan.
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama in 2007 and 2008 argued that sacrificing liberties in the name of anti-terrorism posed long-term risks. He condemned military commissions and violations of habeas corpus as serious threats to “the great traditions of our legal system and our way of life.” He called the Patriot Act “shoddy” and “dangerous.”
Senator Obama sharply criticized President Bush’s surveillance policies as going beyond the boundaries of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Fourth Amendment. He vowed that if elected he would run an administration of unprecedented transparency and vigorously protect whistleblowers.
President Obama’s deeds have not matched Senator Obama’s words. Indeed, he has raised the stakes.
He promised to close Guantanamo by January 2010, but instead slowed down releases from Guantanamo and vastly expanded the prison camp at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.