Obama didn’t remove the Bush “national security” policies — now, he hands them over to Trump

❝ As a presidential candidate, Donald Trump vowed to refill the cells of the Guantánamo Bay prison and said U.S. terrorism suspects should be sent there for military prosecution. He called for targeting mosques for surveillance, escalating airstrikes aimed at terrorists and taking out their civilian family members, and bringing back waterboarding and a “hell of a lot worse” — not only because “torture works,” but because even “if it doesn’t work, they deserve it anyway.”

It is hard to know how much of this stark vision for throwing off constraints on the exercise of national security power was merely tough campaign talk. But if the Trump administration follows through on such ideas, it will find some assistance in a surprising source: President Barack Obama’s have-it-both-ways approach to curbing what he saw as overreaching in the war on terrorism.

❝ Over and over, Obama has imposed limits on his use of such powers but has not closed the door on them — a flexible approach premised on the idea that he and his successors could be trusted to use them prudently. Trump can now sweep away those limits and open the throttle on policies that Obama endorsed as lawful and legitimate for sparing use, like targeted killings in drone strikes and the use of indefinite detention and military tribunals for terrorism suspects.

And even in areas where Obama tried to terminate policies from the George W. Bush era — such as torture and the detention of Americans and other people arrested on domestic soil as “enemy combatants” — his administration fought in court to prevent any ruling that the defunct practices had been illegal. The absence of a definitive repudiation could make it easier for Trump administration lawyers to revive the policies by invoking the same sweeping theories of executive power that were the basis for them in the Bush years.

RTFA and reflect upon the range of backwards tools handy to any criminal onslaught against constitutional rights, crushing dissent, reviving sedition prosecutions unheard of since the turn of the 19th Century.

Whistleblowers win one in Iceland’s Parliament

At 4 a.m. last Thursday, at the end of an all-night session, Iceland’s Parliament, the Althing, voted unanimously in favor of a package of legislation aimed at making the country a haven for freedom of expression by offering legal protection to whistle-blower Web sites like WikiLeaks, which helped to craft the proposal…

…Iceland hoped to become “the inverse of a tax haven,” by offering journalists and publishers some of the most aggressive protections for free speech and investigative journalism in the world. “They are trying to make everything opaque,” she said. “We are trying to make it transparent…”

The plan to make Iceland a world leader in journalism protection took shape in December with the assistance of two leaders of the whistle-blower Web site WikiLeaks.org, Julian Assange and Daniel Schmitt, whose publish-nearly-anything ideology has given them personal experience with news media laws around the globe…

Monroe Price, who runs a program in comparative media law at the University of Oxford, told The Independent in London, “As an exercise in aspirations, it’s a bold and important endeavor.” But, he added, “if it’s a significant issue like a national security question, then the charging jurisdiction will figure out ways of asserting its power.”

Does he really mean that bastions of Free Speech and Liberty like the UK and US might be willing to break or band the law in pursuit of preserving their political will?

You betcha!

Phone tapping row ready to rock India parliament

Indian opposition parties disrupted parliament, asking questions about a report alleging the government secretly tapped the phones of top politicians. Both the upper and lower houses were adjourned amid angry scenes. India’s home minister denies the allegations.

But senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani has called for a response from the the prime minister.

Outlook magazine reported that the mobile phones of politicians, including a federal minister, were being tapped. It claimed that the phones were tapped by the government using equipment from a federal intelligence agency…

The opposition is also calling for a joint parliamentary committee probe into the matter…

In the garb of tracking terror, the government is tracking politicians and even their cabinet ministers,” senior BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said before the session began…

Outlook magazine said that the phones of a federal minister, Sharad Pawar, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, Communist leader Prakash Karat and a senior politician of the ruling Congress party Digvijay Singh had been tapped.

Has someone in the Indian bureaucracy gone completely bonkers and hired Dick Cheney to guide security policy? Or has the “American” disease of fear and terror simply continued its path of infection around the world?

Saudis indict 991 terror suspects

Saudi authorities have indicted 991 suspected militants on charges that they participated in terrorist attacks carried out in the kingdom over the last five years.

The legal proceedings mark a significant step in Saudi Arabia’s fight against terror. Authorities had been reluctant to hold trials for terrorism charges that could result in death sentences until they had shown the public that every effort had been made to give the men a chance to repent.

“In the past few years, the kingdom has been the target of an organized terrorist campaign linked to networks of strife and sedition overseas,” said Interior Minister Prince Nayef.

This campaign targeted the way of life, economy and principles of Saudi society and sought to create chaos,” he added. “It has direct links to a deviant group that adopts the (mind-set) of al-Qaida.”

The militants have been responsible for more than 30 attacks in the kingdom since May 2003, Nayef said. Those attacks killed 164 people, including 74 security officials, and wounded 657 security officials and 439 civilians…

The government fears a public backlash against its crackdown if it takes overly harsh measures against the militants, and it wants to avoid accusations that it is just trying to please the United States.