In 2008, I voted for Barrack Hussein Obama, and one of my reasons was I thought we needed a new face to the world. I also voted for George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004; I supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and I generally favored Bush’s prosecution of the war on the terrorists who attacked us on September 11. But as a former US Marine Corps officer, I concluded eight years of war was enough, the growth of government power endangered liberty and it was, as Obama promised, a hopeful time for change.
A decision of Judge Royce Lamberth of the US District Court in Washington, DC on September 6, 2012 shows why President Obama has completely failed as a leader and changed nothing, choosing instead to govern lawlessly by decree. It is time for change yet again.
Judge Lamberth made his decision in response to the Obama Administration’s remarkable efforts to deprive the Guantanamo detainees of access to counsel. The US Supreme Court already ruled that the detainees had the right of habeas corpus, which includes the right to counsel, and several federal courts sought to enforce the detainee right to counsel. One federal court four years ago entered a Protective Order setting the ground rules for detainee access to counsel. Despite this history of litigation, Candidate Obama’s promise and President Obama’s order to close Guantanamo, it remains open. And this year President Obama, who is the Commander in Chief of all US military forces, attempted to ignore all of these rulings and impose a new set of rules at Guantanamo that, among other things, left it up to the base commander to decide when, if and how any detainee would get to see his lawyer.
In Judge Lamberth’s court, among the many absurd arguments that the President’s lawyers advanced was the assertion that if the detainees did not like it, they could write a letter to the court; and this assertion was made with full knowledge that some of the detainees are completely illiterate, i.e. they cannot read or write, and they do not speak English.
Judge Lamberth’s legal analysis began like this: “It is a sad reality that in the ten years since the first detainees were brought to Guantanamo Bay not a single one has been fully tried or convicted of any crime. Despite this, the Government has fought to deny detainees the ability to challenge their indefinite detentions through habeas corpus proceedings.” He noted “it is the duty of the courts to remedy lawless Executive detention.” This rule of law has existed since King John agreed to the Magna Carta at Runnymede in 1215 AD. Judge Lamberth said, “If the separation-of- powers means anything, it is that this country is not one ruled by Executive fiat.”
But rule by Executive fiat is precisely what the Obama Administration has done at Guantanamo and too many other places right here at home. By decree, the Transportation Security Administration granted itself the right to force us to take off our shoes and belts and grope us at the airport, and now the TSA will sniff the coffee bought at Starbucks inside the security point. The President argued for and signed legislation granting him the right to seize citizens without warrant. His Justice Department allowed the Fast and Furious sale of guns to Mexican Drug Cartels, some of which were used to kill a US Border Patrol agent and, according to Mexican officials, hundreds of Mexican citizens. By fiat the Federal Government ordered Catholic Universities and Hospitals to violate their religious beliefs. And just a few months ago President Obama ordered the Immigration Service to halt deportations of illegal residents.
We may agree or disagree about the policy issues at the heart of each of those decisions. For example, as to immigration, my view is mi casa es su casa; those who want to come here to work, educate their children and make a better life should be welcomed.
But the reason we are such a great nation is that we adhere to the rule of law. As Judge Lamberth stated so plainly, this country is not one ruled by Executive decree. Tin horn dictators like Venzuela's President Chavez rule by decree. President Obama must not be granted four more years to rule by Executive decree.