8 Dangerous Gifts President Obama Left For Donald Trump To Play With
On Saturday, President Trump signed an executive order titled "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the US"
It's a broad temporary ban on entries to the United States from any national of 7 majority-Muslim countries. So, if you're an immigrant or visa holder from one these countries — Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen — you can't enter the US for the next 90 days. And if a country doesn't agree to provide the US certain information about people who apply to come, then they may also be banned.
Trump has been in office for just over a week and he has already made major changes to US policy, some so important and sweeping, like on immigration front, that they will not only block refugee admissions but could also uproot the lives of hundreds of thousands of US green card holders, and amp up detentions and deportations of unauthorised immigrants and is likely to cause women around the world to die.
Federal Judge Ann M. Donnelly just issued a stay against Trump's "Muslim Ban", temporarily allowing people who have landed in the US with a valid visa to remain.
Looking at how President Trump seems to be making good on the promises he made during his campaign, we thought it would be good to list down the many authoritarian tools left behind by Presidents Bush and Obama for Trump's far-right regime to exploit
1. Secret Law
When you don't know how your government interprets laws shaping state power, it becomes much easier for officials to do a lot of shady things in the dark.
Under Secret Law, a federal court in DC sided with the Obama DOJ, ruling that a legal memo describing the FBI's surveillance powers can remain secret from the public.
President Obama brought it and it is now in place for President Trump to exploit.
2. The power to kill US citizens without due process
In addition to having nearly unlimited power to start wars without Congress’s approval, thanks to Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, presidents now have the power to order drone strikes on US citizens abroad without charges or trial.
The Obama administration has deliberately targeted and killed US citizens in drone strikes, without those individuals ever having been given their constitutional right to due process. The Obama administration justified this by arguing that "when an American has made the decision to affiliate himself with al-Qaeda and target fellow Americans, that there is a legal justification for us to try and stop them from carrying out plots."
All of that is what President Trump has now inherited.
3. A shadowy, executive army that reports outside the chain of command directly to the president and kills worldwide
The U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, known by the acronym JSOC, which has grown from a rarely used hostage rescue team into America’s secret army, while was not invented by the Obama Administration, they certainly unleashed it.
Like other authoritarian tools, this one too is left behind by Obama for Trump.
Read more about this by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin on The Washington Post.
4. NSA, the most powerful surveillance apparatus in the world
Over eight years, President Obama created the most intrusive surveillance apparatus in the world, leaving behind his legacy on surveillance that can be described as a shadow state of brick and mortar, hardware and software, satellites and eavesdroppers, ready to grow on President Trump's command to track every move you make.
5. An FBI emboldened to persecute Muslims for "speech and thought crimes" under the guise of "protecting the homeland"
The Intercept_'s Glenn Greenwald details how FBI functions while keeping fear alive:
The FBI does not disrupt planned domestic terror attacks but rather creates them, then publicly praises itself for stopping its own plots.
First, they target a Muslim: not due to any evidence of intent or capability to engage in terrorism, but rather for the “radical” political views he expresses.
They then find another Muslim who is highly motivated to help disrupt a “terror plot”.
Once they finally get the target to agree, the FBI swoops in at the last minute, arrests the target, issues a press release praising themselves for disrupting a dangerous attack (which it conceived of, funded, and recruited the operatives for), and the DOJ and federal judges send their target to prison for years or even decades.
6. Domestic laws authorising government propaganda targeting US citizens and the indefinite detention of suspects without trial
While the expansion of presidential powers, through legal executive privileges, in the War on Terror began in the Bush administration, they reached their peak in President Obama's presidency. Compared to Bush, Obama's authority is more ambiguous, more powerful, and less defined than in the previous administrations.
In fact, through the National Defence Authorisation Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Obama became vested with extrajudicial powers, such as the power to contain the provisions that allow the president to indefinitely detain a terrorist suspect without a trial.
Read more on the propaganda ban here and unchecked power grab here.
7. Law making it easier for the Secret Service to arrest protesters
You can read about "Criminalising Protest" Bill here, it makes it easier for the Secret Service to overuse or misuse the statute to arrest lawful protesters.
And with President Trump's first week in office shows, protests are going to be a part of his entire time in office. But with this law in place, thanks to Obama Administration, he can send the Secret Service to arrest protesters protesting lawfully.
8. Lastly, the Obama administration is leaving Trump with these: Legitimation of the ideas that seeking privacy is suspicious activity and that the FBI should be able to crack all encryption
Example, if you use Skype, VPN, Tor, or PGP for security and privacy reasons or even buy components at an electronic store, you are a potential terrorist in eyes of the FBI.
Read more about the assault on privacy here and here.
And if you believe in encryption, here's what President Obama said: "It's fetishising our phones above every other value, and that can’t be the right answer."