Far from having broken with his Republican predecessor, Democratic President Barack Obama has now reinforced the law of exception that he criticised when he was a senator. It is now possible to deprive United States citizens of their fundamental rights because they have taken part in armed action against their own country, but also when they take a political position favourable to those who use military action to resist the Empire. Worse – Barack Obama has added to the law John Yoo’s “Unitary Executive theory,” which puts an end to the principles of the separation of powers as defined by Montesquieu. The security policy of the United States President now escapes all control.
The Presidential elections, and the game of a possible changeover between Democrats and Republicans, cannot hide a marked tendency towards mutation in the form of the United States executive, regardless of the colour of the Presidential ticket. And it seems that the most significant change in the law has taken place under President Obama.
Barack Obama was elected by evoking a future based on respect for the fundamental rights of individuals and nations. But assessment of his presidency reveals an entirely different picture. The visible aspects of this, such as the failure to close down Guantánamo Bay, the maintenance of exceptional military tribunals or the practice of torture in Afghanistan, are only the tip of the iceberg. These elements only allow us to note the continuity between the Bush and Obama administrations. However, there has been such reinforcement of the previous political structure that the form of the state has now changed, creating a hitherto unseen modification of the relation between the authorities and the citizens of the United States.
The possibility of treating US citizens as foreign ’terrorists’ has been a constant objective of the government executive since the attacks of 9/11. By the new prerogative which has been awarded him by the National Defense Authorization Act – that of being able to nullify Habeas Corpus for US citizens and not just for foreign nationals – the Obama administration has achieved what the previous government had only planned but never instituted. …
The Size of the Big Banks Is – Literally – Destroying the Rule of Law
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind quotes Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner as saying:
The confidence in the system is so fragile still… a disclosure of a fraud… could result in a run, just like Lehman.
In other words, Geitnher said that the big bankers are “too big to jail”, because disclosing any portion of their massive fraud would cause bank runs.
Former IMF economist Simon Johnson notes:
The main motivation behind the administration’s indulgence of serious criminality evidently is fear of the consequences of taking tough action on individual bankers.
The message to bank executives today is simple: build your bank to be as big as possible – and then keep growing. If you manage to become big enough, you and your employees are not just too big to fail, but also too big to jail.
Glenn Greenwald notes:
To justify this lack of accountability for the nation’s wealthiest lawbreakers, the all-too-familiar excuses long used to shield the politically powerful are trotted out on cue. Once again, we are told that prosecutions are too disruptive; that it’s more important to fix the system than to seek retribution for the past; that because the wrongdoers’ reputation is in tatters, they have already suffered enough; that we need the goodwill of financial titans to ensure our common prosperity; and so on.
Around 5,000 Spanish police officers marched through the streets of Madrid on Saturday to protest government austerity measures, including frozen pensions and the elimination of their Christmas bonuses.
Officers travelled from across Spain to take part in the demonstration which was called by the nation’s main policing union.
Protesters blew whistles, shouted slogans, and carried anti-austerity banners as they marched through the city centre to the interior ministry.
“Citizens! Forgive us for not arresting those truly responsible for this crisis: bankers and politicians,” read one banner.
The Spanish government has imposed harsh spending cuts aimed at saving 150 billion euros between 2012 and 2014. The move has been met with anger and protests from hundreds of thousands of Spanish citizens.
The austerity measures are in exchange for a rescue loan of up to 100 billion euros from the EU to help the country’s stricken banks.
“The problem is they take from us to give to others, like the autonomous regions and the banks,” 33-year-old police officer Antonio Perez told AP.
Spanish police officers take part in a demonstration against the Spanish government’s latest austerity measures in the center of Madrid on November 17, 2012 (AFP Photo / Dominique Faget)
But it’s not just their pay the police are worried about.
A spokesman for Spain’s Unified Police Union, Jose Maria Benito, said the cuts will affect the nation’s security, adding that working conditions have become more precarious and law enforcement equipment was no longer up to standard.
“We are here to tell the government that security has to be its priority…in socially convulsive times, we need an adequate police response,” Benito told AP. He added that 15,000 workers who have left the force were not going to be replaced. …
Afghanistan and the US have opened talks to keep American troops in the country after most Nato forces go home in 2014, but the thorny question of immunity for American soldiers, which in effect ended the US role in Iraq last year, is likely to prove a stumbling block.
The issue has been thrown into sharp relief by the Seattle trial of the US army staff sergeant Robert Bales, who is accused of the massacring 16 Afghan civilians, mostly women and children, during a shooting spree at their homes in March. US prosecutors are seeking the death penalty but many Afghans, including some of the victims’ relatives, want to see him brought before one of their own courts. …