Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Charles Parker: The ACLU, Obama, and Me


I generally disagree with the ACLU.  I generally disagree with President Obama.  So when they disagree with each other, I find myself in a bit of a quandary.

Earlier this week, Attorney General Eric Holder outlined the Obama administration’s justifications for killing American citizens on foreign soil.  Basically, Holder said that the authority granted by Congress shortly after 9/11 gives the military and the intelligence community the right to attack enemy combatants without legal proceedings.

Holder said, “’Due process’ and ‘judicial process’ are not one and the same, particularly when it comes to national security…The Constitution guarantees due process, not judicial process.”  Holder went on to note that the enemy “must pose an imminent threat of violent attack.”


The ACLU responded to Attorney General Holder by calling the claimed authority “chillingly broad” and by characterizing attacks as “targeted killing of civilians.”

Much of this discussion comes as a result of the drone-death of Anwar al-Awlaki last year in Yemen.  This terrorist had led the planning of attacks on Americans and their allies, including the unsuccessful 2009 Christmas Day “underwear bomber” attempt on a commercial airliner.

So – back to my dilemma.  Where should I stand on this important issue – considering that these two entities usually agree and I usually agree with neither of them?  I stand with President Obama on this – but in doing so – I want to make a philosophical point about the president’s politics.

I generally disagree with the ACLU because their core beliefs do not align with my core beliefs.  However, I respect that they stick to their principles.  They promote a liberal reading of the Constitution and believe - as did former Vice-President Al Gore – that it is a “living, breathing document.”  I think this is wrong-thinking, but at least they are consistent.

I generally disagree with President Obama because his policies are politically-driven, not principled.  He is concerned with acquiring and maintaining power so that he can promote the causes of the constituencies that make up his base.   I think this is wrong-thinking and leads to a more fractured American society.

In this particular case, he is trying to shore up independents and moderates in his party (they used to be called “Reagan Democrat”) by showing that he is tough on terrorism.  Fortunately, most Americans can see through the fog – even if they agree with him as I do on this issue.

So - kudos to the ACLU for being progressively-predictable.  And kudos to the president for making the right call on this one…even if it is for the wrong reason.

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