December 31, 2011 will be remembered as a day of infamy. More on it below. October 17, 2006 was an earlier one under Bush.
In a White House ceremony, he signed the infamous Military Commissions Act (MCA). It authorized torture as official policy.
It also enacted sweeping unconstitutional powers to arrest, interrogate, and prosecute alleged terrorist suspects and collaborators (including US citizens), detain them (without evidence) indefinitely in military prisons, and deny them habeas and other constitutional protections.
It lets presidents call anyone anywhere an "unlawful enemy combatant," order them arrested, detained and denied all rights.
On the same day, Bush quietly signed the FY 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Included were hidden Sections 1076 and 333. Major media scoundrels ignored them.
They amended the 1807 Insurrection Act and 1878 Posse Comitatus Act. They prohibited using federal and National Guard troops for law domestic enforcement except as constitutionally allowed or expressly authorized by Congress in times of insurrection or other national emergency.
Henceforth, the executive, by diktat, can claim emergency powers, declare martial law, suspend the Constitution on "national security" grounds, and deploy federal and/or National Guard troops on US streets to suppress whatever's called disorder - including lawful peaceful protests.
At issue is abolishing fundamental First Amendment freedoms without which all others are at risk. They include free expression, assembly, religion, and right to petition government for redress. No longer.
In 2009, Obama assured military commission continuity by signing the FY 2010 Defense Authorization Act. Its hidden Section 1031 contained the 2009 Military Commissions Act (MCA). The phrase "unprivileged enemy belligerent" replaced "unlawful enemy combatant."
Language changed but not intent or lawlessness. Obama exceeds Bush extremism. Guantanamo and other torture prisons remain open. US citizens are treated as lawlessly as foreign nationals. Ahead things got worse.
On December 31, he signed the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). It gives presidents unchecked power to order military force arrests and indefinite detentions of US citizens, based solely on uncorroborated accusations of terrorist group associations.
Constitutional, statute and international law protections don't apply. America's military may snatch and grab anyone, throw them in torture prisons, and hold them indefinitely without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, spurious allegations or none at all.
Earlier by Executive Order, Obama authorized indefinite detentions of anyone designated national security threats. Specifically intended for Guantanamo detainees, it's now for everyone, including US citizens at home or abroad.
Moreover, CIA operatives and Special Forces death squads got presidential authorization to kill targeted US citizens abroad. As a result, they can be hunted down and murdered in cold blood for any reason or none at all.
As of December 31, anyone anywhere, including US citizens, can be called national security threats and judged guilty by accusation. Activists opposing America's imperium risk arrest, permanent detention or assassination.
So do social justice protesters. Military dungeons or FEMA camps await them. Martial law may authorize it, claiming "catastrophic emergency" powers. The original Senate bill excluded US citizens. Obama demanded their inclusion.
Inviolable rights no longer apply. Protesting imperial lawlessness, social injustice, corporate crime, government corruption, or political Washington run of, by and for rich elites can be criminalized. So can free speech, assembly, religion, or anything challenging America's right to kill, destroy and pillage with impunity.
It's official. Tyranny arrived in America. The nation's unsafe to live in. There's no place to hide. They're coming for anyone challenging injustice.
Lawlessness At Home and Abroad
They also target independent states. At issue is making them client ones. Tactics include threats, destabilization, violence, sanctions and war if other methods fail.
In 2011, Libya became NATO's latest charnel house. It was ravaged and destroyed for profit. For months, Syria's been ruthlessly targeted. Pressure's building for more. Anything ahead is possible, including replicating the barbarism inflicted on Libya.
Iran's next. Washington's pushing the envelope aggressively.
Tactics include provocations, subversion, fake accusations, isolation, covert or direct confrontation, cyberwar, and punishing sanctions, coming perilously close to acts or war.
In the past five years, four harsh rounds were imposed. In mid-December, Congress enacted another. They're included in the FY 2012 NDAA. They're aimed at penalizing foreign financial institutions doing business with Tehran's central bank. It's the main oil revenue conduit. US corporations, including banks, already can't deal with Iran.
Additional measures expanded sanctions on companies doing oil related business, including investments, selling Iran refinery goods and services, as well as providing Tehran with refined products worth $5 million or more annually.
On December 31, Obama signed the new law. He has 180 days to implement it. He calls it the stiffest measure yet, saying:
"Our intent is to implement this law in a timed and phased approach so that we avoid repercussions to the oil market and ensure that this damages Iran and not the rest of the world."
He has discretionary power to grant waivers, provided they're in America's national interest. Energy analysts fear enactment means disruptively higher oil prices. Others worry that confrontation may follow rogue bullying.
Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said Iran's naval forces can readily block the Strait of Hormuz in response to hostile Western actions.
He spoke a day after Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned not a drop of oil would pass through the Strait if Iran's oil exports are sanctioned. If so, expect energy prices to skyrocket until normal flows resume. Also expect retaliation, perhaps including direct US-Iranian confrontation.
Targeting Iran's nuclear program is a ruse. Tehran insists it's peaceful. Nothing proves otherwise. The most recent March 2011 US intelligence consensus agrees. It found no evidence of weapons development. At issue is regime change. Reasons are invented as pretext.
As a result, anything ahead is possible, including potentially devastating general war with nuclear weapons targeting underground Iranian facilities.
No matter the risk, Obama seems headed for the unthinkable. Stay tuned. More on this will follow.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.