Q: In what ways do Obama and Bush relate, regarding civil liberties?
Obama, very sad to say, is simply institutionalizing anti-constitution policies that Bush and Co. initiated, and digging a deeper foundation for them. For example, his Justice Department uses Bush’s rationale of state secrecy to keep torturers from being brought to justice; he is expanding, not closing, Guantanamo; he supports and is running military tribunals in which witnesses are not brought in who can exonerate the accused; and he is boosting surveillance capabilities. His FBI is harassing activists and his administration kept Bradley Manning in a state of forced nudity in solitary confinement, which rights organizations know is a form of torture. It is especially tragic because he is a constitutional scholar and campaigned on the very opposite promises.
Q: Generally speaking, how are things now, compared to when you wrote The End of America?
Far worse. Every ‘step’ has gone so much further down the road. I never thought I would see the day come so soon when a US President defends his bid for ‘preventive detention’ - in other words, he asserts the right to hold anyone, including US citizens, any time for as long as he wants, without trial. That is the very definition of a police state. Nor would I have believed that the days when the TSA routinely molests American citizens and arrests them if they complain, would have arrived in a matter of three years.
Q: Do you think Gitmo will be closed any time soon?
That depends on us. I can tell you that its existence threatens every one of us, innocent American citizens though we may be. There is no incentive from those who are making billions on a hyped ‘war on terror’ ever to let those people come to real trials, or ever to dial down the theatre around hyped terror threats.
Q: Touch on the Arab Spring and how you think The End of America could have affected it.
I haven’t been told that the End of America affected it directly but I have many readers in my online community from the Arab world — Arabic is our third most prevalent language. It may have had a bit of a ripple effect because there are not a lot of books that break down in really easy and accessible components what democracy is actually made of. Everyone in the world can relate to the examples in End of America and it is the same ten steps that Mubarak used and that the Egyptian protesters were resisting.
Q: Julian Assange is a hot topic. What would you like see happen in his case?
Just ordinary due process. It is a terrible precedent when the State intervenes in a judicial proceeding to the extend that I have documented the State has done in his case. There must be ‘equal justice under law’ for everyone if anyone is to be really safe.
Q: Something like 330 men have been killed in British custody in the last three years. How does this relate to the UK riots, how does it relate to The End of America?
I do see Cameron importing US-tested police state tactics, from arresting people because of what they said on Twitter, to arguing for police powers to shut down cellphone use — something that San Franciscos BART did recently as well to forestall a protest. I see echoes like Cameron calling for putting looters in orange jumpsuits to be shamed, and I think, he has studied the orange jumpsuits and other aspects of scapegoat theatre over here. I wish the people of the UK would realize that a police state always starts with cracking down because of the extremes, the ‘other’ that no one likes, but then in a blink of an eye everyone’s rights are gone also.
Q: Let’s go back a few years, would you rather (knowing all that you know now) have seen Barack Obama or Hilary Clinton elected to the office of President of the United States?
I don’t think it matters much anymore who is president; the people running our policy are Pentagon contractors, Boeing and Halliburton, paramilitary contractors such as Dyncorp — you can’t even track the vast sums of money flowing to these entities — and the oil, insurance and pharmaceutical industries. The president is really a figurehead for these interests, just as in many Latin American ‘democracies.’ Or in Russia.
Q: Two very powerful women, Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin are also big topics of conversation right now. Do you think we will see either of them as presidential candidates in 2012?
Possibly, but see above: I don’t think it will make much difference until the people see through the false polarities of left and right and realize that the only real polarity that counts in liberty versus tyranny.
Q: Let’s say you have the ability to encourage Barack Obama to implement one thing, what do you tell him to do?
Actually follow his Oath of Office, which committed him to protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.