No, I’m not talking about the annoying behavior all presidents and their administrations engage in… treating some journalists as favorites, granting access in exchange for sometimes fawning favorable articles and columns. No, I mean nothing so innocuous as that. I mean deliberate efforts to punish journalists by imprisonment and torture for committing acts of… journalism.
Yemeni journalist Abdulelah Haider Shaye found out the hard way about this policy. Imprisoned in Yemen in retribution for some things he published about the current government, he was set to be released… until President Obama phoned to request that he NOT be released, apparently because he published full accounts of US military involvement in Yemen including the killing of dozens of civilians in drone attacks. Obama now regards Abdulelah Haider Shaye as an Al Qaeda member, even though he often reported on Al Qaeda for several major American news organizations.
So Abdulelah Haider Shaye sits in prison at Obama’s behest, with no immediate prospect of being released. This is how things are done now in the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” What kind of bravery does it demonstrate when a president arranges the jailing of a journalist critical of him?
I will not tell you who you should or should not vote for in November, and yes, I do believe that in aspects other than civil liberties, Obama would be preferable to any of the Republican candidates. (That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, or indeed an endorsement of any sort.) But civil liberties is, for me, a go/no‑go issue. I shall not vote for the man, because I consider him to have engaged in extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens without due process.
(H/T Glenn Greenwald, whose post is well worth reading.)