Nat Hentoff: Who are we as Americans?
I was astonished and angered to read last week that the American Civil Liberties Union gathered “a coalition of 45 civil rights, human rights, privacy rights and faith-based organizations (and) sent a letter to President Obama asking for ‘a full public accounting of ... practices’” related to the NSA’s spying on five leading American Muslims (“Civil Rights Groups Ask Administration to Explain NSA Surveillance of American Muslims,” aclu.org, July 9).
Sure, it’s a legitimate complaint, so why am I angry? Because instead of requesting this “full public accounting,” the ACLU should be organizing with other presumed guardians of our individual constitutional liberties to demand that impeachment proceedings begin against Barack Obama, the most flagrant presidential violator of the Constitution in our history.
This is for the sake of our very identity as Americans.
On Dec. 4, 2013, George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley, who has often appeared in this column through the years, testified before the House Judiciary Committee about Obama’s constant desecration of the Constitution’s separation of powers:
“The problem with what the president is doing is that he is not simply posing a danger to the constitutional system. He’s becoming the very danger the Constitution was designed to avoid. That is the concentration of power in any single branch” (“’Impeach Obama’ Campaign Moves Mainstream,” Bob Unruh, wnd.com, May 10).
Did you reread the Declaration of Independence on July 4? Remember what King George III was doing to so powerfully suppress the colonists that it led to our American Revolution?
During the same congressional hearing last December, Michael Cannon, director of Health Policy Studies for the Cato Institute (where I am a Senior Fellow), said:
“If the people come to believe that the government is no longer constrained by the laws, then they will conclude that neither are they” (Unruh, wnd.com).
And in the second term of his reign, Obama has publicly delighted in his unassailable command:
“Conceding defeat on a top domestic priority, President Barack Obama blamed a Republican ‘year of obstruction’ for the demise of sweeping immigration legislation ... and said he would take new steps without Congress to fix as much of the system as he can on his own” (“Obama: I’ll Act on My Own on Immigration,” Erica Werner and Jim Kuhnhenn, the Associated Press, June 30).
In this White House speech, Obama said: “I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own — without Congress.”
An increasingly influential new book, “Impeachable Offenses” by Aaron Klein and Brenda Elliott (WND Books, 2013), further addresses “the probable causes for” Obama’s impeachment. I will be partially excerpting passages from it in columns to come.
Meanwhile, I have previously listed many of the “high Crimes” the Constitution requires for impeachment, but I insist on repeating the capper — hardly mentioned anymore in the news — that so outrageously justifies impeachment procedures:
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), signed by Obama, enables our military to “detain” (Obama’s euphemism for “imprison”) American citizens right here without trial who “substantially supported” (which is undefined) “associated forces” (also undefined) “engaged in hostilities against the United States.”
It takes little effort to imagine how James Madison or Thomas Jefferson would have reacted to a president making such a decision in the new nation they were instrumental in founding.
What would Samuel Adams or Thomas Paine say?
Also worth a look by We The People is Sarah Palin’s recent Fox News op-ed, “The case for Obama’s impeachment: The Constitution’s remedy for a lawless, imperial president” (foxnews.com, July 11).
The former governor of Alaska and the 2008 Republican nominee for vice president is also a commentator on Fox News.
Yes, Fox News, which may cause some readers to grimace in distaste. But Judge Andrew Napolitano is also on Fox News, and he’s one of the only commentators on TV whose sole beat is the Constitution, and he guards it with deeply effective knowledge. He supports the impeachment of Barack Obama.
I don’t judge any pundits by where they appear. Those who do that with regard to me grow dizzy with seeming opposites. What counts is what each one says and documents.
Among Palin’s impeachable indictments of Obama:
“Without notifying Congress as required by law, he set free terrorist prisoners at a time of war when they can return to the battlefield to kill our troops.”
And dig this: “In violation of our Constitution, he regularly ignores court orders, changes laws by executive fiat, and refuses to enforce laws he doesn’t like, including our immigration laws.”
As Palin wrote: “Impeachment is the ultimate check on an out-of-control executive branch. It is serious, not to be used for petty partisan purposes; and it is imperative that it becomes a matter of legitimate discussion before the American people lose all trust in our federal government.”
And, I add, before they lose trust in themselves as citizens of a self-governing republic.
I urge all Americans — regardless of party affiliation, faith or absence thereof — to face this challenge to our identity: How is it possible that Barack Obama can evade impeachment proceedings if We The People are meaningfully to remain Americans?
You’re voters. It’s up to you in 2014 and 2016 to vote for those who will repair what he has done.
Also keep in mind the futures of your children and grandchildren if this deep wound Obama has committed to our Constitution is not punished and remedied.
Nat Hentoff is a renowned authority on the First Amendment and the Bill of Rights.