- Posted August 25, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
An Open Letter to Barack Obama
Dear President Obama:
Although I supported you in both of your election bids, it is now with great compunction that I call you my president.
These are difficult times, to be sure, and leading a nation that is at once in dire financial straits as well as at war is no simple task. The perils are many and I never expected you to perform your job flawlessly. But I did expect you to do so honestly, and your failure on that front is where the fault lies. We all make mistakes, it is true, but repeatedly violating trust does not fall into the category of a mistake. It is an intentional, premeditated and sustained act, and therefore cannot and must not be forgiven, especially in those who are unrepentant, as you continue to be.
No American can say that they have no skin in the game, as it were, because your policies affect us all. However, not only did I support your ascendency to the nation’s highest office, I fought under your command in Afghanistan in 2009-2010. After being recalled from three years of civilian life as part of your surge in Afghanistan, I was proud to have you as my Commander in Chief. I served under George W. Bush before you and, although I supported him immediately following 9/11, eventually came to see him as dishonest. His policies of torture, domestic spying and especially his misleading justification for the war in Iraq appalled me. While on active duty at Ft. Knox in 2004, I voted against his re-election. In 2005, I left active-duty military service in large part because of the direction he was taking the country.
And that’s why I was so happy to see you on the horizon in 2008. You brought forth a great message of change: torture was to be discontinued, the Iraq war was to be drawn to a close and, most importantly, you promised to return transparency to government, making it accountable to the people once again. This last promise was the most important because, to a large degree, it encapsulated not only any existing problems, but would keep the path clear of future abuses. Upon your imperative promise have you committed your greatest failure.
The domestic spying program you currently employ (which was egregious enough already without you going on late night TV and lying to all our faces), is a clear violation of our constitution. Although you so often profess that your most important job in office is protecting American lives, forget not that you twice swore an oath to uphold the very constitution you now so blatantly disregard. Every man and woman who has served in the armed forces, and died for the country you lead, made that same vow, and you dishonor them when you do not follow through on your twice-avowed oath.
I have read more times than I care to remember the term ‘constitutional scholar’ attached to your name, but lately, it begs just one question: Which constitution did you study? It can’t be that of the United States, not when you have violated the Bill of Rights, specifically and especially the Fourth Amendment, which endured for two hundred years until you and your predecessor happened along. One of the main tenants of your initial election was to roll back the abuses of Bush on this front, but you have made matters worse since his leaving. So not only did you fail to advance the nation on your professed course, you regressed while going back on your word. Your asinine justification, the FISA courts that provide you with the veneer of actual justice, has seen fit to reject .003 percent of government claims for a warrant (which, even at a higher rate of rejection, couldn’t be viewed as formidable considering that the American citizens you so publicly are looking out for have no one to represent their side.) President Obama, that is a rubber stamp court. Democracies do not deal in rubber stamp courts.
Before your election, you also promised us that you would protect whistleblowers. Your website stated that people willing to speak out against government abuses were “committed to public integrity” and that such people displayed “courage and patriotism,” but your actions over the last few years show that you have either lost your way or made promises you never intended to keep. To consider the way that you allowed, and even justified, Bradley Manning’s inhumane treatment in custody is enough to prove it. The conditions of his two year pre-trial confinement should make you ashamed.
Consider the words of Manning, who at his sentencing had this to say, “…we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.” These are exactly the type of words that you, at one time, professed to hold so dear. But not only did you punish the messenger, you failed to act upon any wrongdoing which was consequently exposed. Your response to Manning’s sentence of 35 years in prison was, “He broke the law.” Maybe so, but so did a lot of people that he exposed. You refuse to do anything about them.
It’s tempting to blame the corruption of your character on being a ‘wartime president.’ Once Bush started using this term his conscience corroded before our eyes, but there is a difference between you and him – you came into this knowing that you were going to be dealing with a country engaged in war. You knew the challenge you would face before you took the job, and still you gave us your word that you would be fair. For this reason, what you said before the election you must be adhered to to a greater degree, and you haven’t kept your word in that arena at all.
It’s not surprising that a ‘constitutional scholar’ of a president would be willing to break the due process enshrined in the Fifth Amendment after ignoring the improper search portion of the Fourth, but it is still aggravating, another nail in the coffin of the liberty you once told us you held so dear. What you should have said when running in 2008, if you were an honest man, was that you intended to ignore due process, judicial oversight, trial by jury and two hundred years of constitutional tradition in order to kill whomever you deemed a ‘terrorist,’ without a trial. This is exactly what you did to Anwar al-Awlaki (and his 16 year old son) in Yemen. Your explanation for not telling us the facts, or presenting them to a judge, was that they were state secrets. You are not a god or a king, but a president. Your duty is to preside over a way of life, not to alter it as you see fit. President Obama, we are not stupid and we are not children. Stop treating us as such. If you have evidence of something, you need to make your case. No United States President has the right to draw up and execute ‘kill lists,’ assassinate American citizens and then tell the rest of the country that the reasons behind it are none of their business. That’s not how we do things.
Your wartime swagger also caused you to unjustifiably clamp down on foreign journalists. The case of Abdulelah Haider Shaye, a Yemeni journalist, is troubling in many ways. Your first point in contention with him was undoubtedly when he told the truth about the Tomahawk missiles you fired into Yemen (still bearing ‘Made in America’ markings), without Congressional oversight or even bothering to mention it to the people of the United States. That strike killed fourteen women and twenty-one children. After Shaye interviewed members of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), you used the influence of your war dollars to have local officials arrest him and run him through a kangaroo court. Even after that, as he was about to be pardoned, you called then-Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh and had his pardoned revoked. This was a journalist trusted and sometimes employed by the Washington Post, ABC News and the New York Times, among others. Your support for his unjust imprisonment was opposed by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to Protect Journalists. It’s hard to believe that the man who ran on a platform of hope and won a Nobel Peace Prize could be on the other side of these organizations, but that is where you stand.
Failures of character do not exist in a vacuum. Your actual accomplishments in office are now on shaky future ground due to your shortcomings. Your Affordable Care Act, a great piece of legislation that could save lives and help the poor, would have been fought over for some time one way or another. But now it is doubly in peril due to the fact that you have simultaneously split your base and given your political rivals so much ammunition. An especially insidious consequence of your decisions is that they have forced your former supporters to agree with those they once opposed. It is with great discomfort that we find ourselves having to take a side against you. Now we find ourselves on the side of the very people who detest fairness in important domestic issues, such as the continued existence of unions, the minimum wage, voting rights and universal healthcare. If you take an honest look at the current political landscape, you’ll notice that the people begrudgingly agreeing with you are the same ones that you were pushing back against not five years ago. Your dishonest actions threaten us abroad and at home.
There was a time when a rigidity of conscience would have propelled you to denounce the very things you now propagate. There was a time when you so brilliantly and courageously articulated what was right, all of it, but you have abandoned so much that even the small good is now in danger of being lost to the political ether. We saw in you a Jeffersonian hope for the future and ended up in times Nixonian. That would be bad enough solely as a reflection on you, but you have made patriots pay in the process. While it is not yet possible to know the damage you have done to the future of your party, both in lost elections and a hollowing out of the character that once defined it, no reasonable person could doubt that it is considerable. The damage to the nation as a whole is also great. You have lost your way.