Closing Guantanamo Bay
Closing Guantanamo Bay is one promise the president still vows to keep, yet the detention facility with ambiguous legal jurisdiction in Cuba remains fully operational and currently houses about 164 detainees. Even though the president has restated his commitment time and again to closing the prison, legislative opposition has thwarted any progress since he was elected in 2008. In the Senate, Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), listed the concerns that have kept detainees overseas while on the Senate floor last year:
“Most Americans believe that the people at Guantanamo Bay are not some kind or burglar or bank robber, they are bent on our destruction. And I side with the American people that we are under siege, we are under attack and we’re at war and some of my colleagues in this body have forgotten what 9/11 is all about.”
On the other hand, the president does have allies in Congress who share the view that Guantanamo Bay is a national security liability. Senator Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) employed the aid of military leaders to make the case for closing the prison at a hearing in August, begging the question:
Keeping Your Healthcare
At the moment, this promise appears to be biting back the hardest. In his first term as President, Obama circled the country while he made the case for the Affordable Care Act. In various speeches and press conferences the president vowed that Americans who ‘liked their coverage could keep their coverage, period.’ As it turns out, there was an asterisk after that statement.
Last week Obama ‘qualified’ his promise on Obamacare, “[W]hat we said was you could keep it, if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” Criticism has mounted from the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart to Politifact, which gave the statement a ‘Pants on Fire’ rating. Needless to say, the president’s opponents have latched onto what Politifact calls “the equivalent of the fine print on a television commercial running in heavy rotation.”
Government Transparency, Unlawful Surveillance, and Protecting Whistle-blowers
While running for President in 2008 candidate Obama said, “Let me say it as simply as I can: transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.” Yet, when it comes to transparent government, more lawsuits have arisen surrounding denied Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in Obama’s first first term than president than George W. Bush’s second; and major agencies were found to be “50 percent more likely to deny FOIA requests than under Bush.” Similarly more information is being redacted from the FOIA requests that are approved meaning that even when information is released it is seldom unabridged.
While on the campaign trail in 2007, candidate Obama came out strongly opposed to government surveillance without a warrant. “No more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war…”
However, those strong words appear to be ill-founded given revelations that the National Security Agency has been tracking millions of Americans cellphone and online metadata without a warrant. Former Congressman Ron Paul argues that mass data collection amounts to warrantless wiretapping on CNN, “I think Americans are sick and tired of hearing how many people are having surveillance on them, including their phones, internet, and email.”
Photo credit: Whitehouse.gov