The Democratic Party platform for 2012 is out. Like I did with the GOP platform last week, I've pulled out some sections on civil liberties and privacy and contrasted them with the actions of the Obama administration over his first term. This is by no means an exhaustive, deep-dive into the platform, but it's nonetheless illuminating. In the DNC case, I found most interesting what was missing entirely from the document.
Absent from the Democratic party platform entirely is any explicit mention of the First, Fourth, Fifth or Sixth Amendments, those that guarantee free speech and religion; freedom from unwarranted government intrusion into our private lives; the right to due process; and the rights to challenge evidence and one's accusers, respectively.
The Second Amendment, on the other hand, gets an entire paragraph:
Firearms. We recognize that the individual right to bear arms is an important part of the American tradition, and we will preserve Americans’ Second Amendment right to own and use firearms. We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation. We understand the terrible consequences of gun violence; it serves as a reminder that life is fragile, and our time here is limited and precious. We believe in an honest, open national conversation about firearms. We can focus on effective enforcement of existing laws, especially strengthening our background check system, and we can work together to enact commonsense improvements – like reinstating the assault weapons ban and closing the gun show loophole – so that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.
Staying True to Our Values at Home...Advancing our interests may involve new actions and policies to confront threats like terrorism, but the President and the Democratic Party believe these practices must always be in line with our Constitution, preserve our people’s privacy and civil liberties, and withstand the checks and balances that have served us so well. That is why the President banned torture without exception in his first week in office. That is why we are reforming military commissions to bring them in line with the rule of law. That is why we are substantially reducing the population at Guantánamo Bay without adding to it. And we remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values.
That is why the President banned torture without exception in his first week in office. That is why we are reforming military commissions to bring them in line with the rule of law. That is why we are substantially reducing the population at Guantánamo Bay without adding to it. And we remain committed to working with all branches of government to close the prison altogether because it is inconsistent with our national security interests and our values.
The President did officially ban torture during his first week in office, but just last week announced that the DOJ would not file charges against any of the CIA officers or Bush administration officials involved in the torture and killing of detainees. And while Obama has reformed military commissions to make them slightly better, they remain a travesty and a mockery of justice.
The claim about GITMO releases is also partially true, although the administration has yet to charge or release at least 82 prisoners who to this day languish in detention in the US military prison. And as to the claim that his administration is "not adding" to the prison population at GITMO, its other actions suggest that its counterterrorism plans replace detention with "kill lists" and extrajudicial assassinations — not exactly a civil liberties achievement.
The role of the executive in the US system
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.