The Corner

The Obama Administration Is Criminalizing Dissent? Intimidating Its Ideological Opponents? You Must Be Joking

The DHS screed that Jonah and some of our Marked Men (Steyn, Hemingway and Krikorian) have weighed in on is entirely predictable.  The only conceivable surprise is that it is so blatant and has happened so soon.  But all they’ve done is commit to paper the same stuff they say to each other in conversation.  (I’d love to see the email trail and the drafts that led to the final version.)

I’m still digging out of my various pre-election hate mail piles — you know, “How could say Obama is a socialist who will redistribute wealth just because he used to be a member of a socialist party and criticized the Warren Court for failing to order the redistribution of wealth?”; “How could you say Obama is a Left-wing radical rather than a centrist moderate just because he made common cause with Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Mike Klonsky, Jeremiah Wright, Frank Marshall Davis, et al?”; “How could you say Obama would be an extremist on abortion and other life issues just because he supported infanticide as a Chicago legislator?”; “How could you say Obama would be anti-Israel in his governance and appointments just because he pals around with Rashid Khalidi?”; “How could you say an Obama administration would turn TARP into a Big Government slush fund just because he managed the Chicago Annenberg Challenge as a Big Lefty slush fund?”; “How could you say Obama will be soft on Iran just because Obama is soft on Iran?”; etc.  But I note that I got plenty for this one, too:

I’ll be blunt: Sen. Obama and his supporters despise free expression, the bedrock of American self-determinism and hence American democracy. What’s more, like garden-variety despots, they see law not as a means of ensuring liberty but as a tool to intimidate and quell dissent….

[I]n St. Louis, local law-enforcement authorities, dominated by Democrat-party activists, [are] threatening libel prosecutions against Obama’s political opposition. County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch and City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, abetted by a local sheriff and encouraged by the Obama campaign, warned that members of the public who dared speak out against Obama during the campaign’s crucial final weeks would face criminal libel charges — if, in the judgment of these conflicted officials, such criticism of their champion was “false.”

The chill wind was bracing. The Taliban could not better rig matters. The Prophet of Change is only to be admired, not questioned. In the stretch run of an American election, there is to be no examination of a candidate for the world’s most powerful office — whether about his radical record, the fringe Leftism that lies beneath his thin, centrist veneer, his enabling of infanticide, his history of race-conscious politics, his proposals for unprecedented confiscation and distribution of private property (including a massive transfer of American wealth to third-world dictators through international bureaucrats), his ruinous economic policies that have helped leave Illinois a financial wreck, his place at the vortex of the credit market implosion that has put the U.S. economy on the brink of meltdown, his aggressive push for American withdrawal and defeat in Iraq, his easy gravitation to America-hating activists, be they preachers like Jeremiah Wright, terrorists like Bill Ayers, or Communists like Frank Marshall Davis. Comment on any of this and risk indictment or, at the very least, government harassment and exorbitant legal fees.

Nor was this an isolated incident.

Item: When the American Issues Project ran political ads calling attention to Obama’s extensive ties to Ayers, the Weatherman terrorist who brags about having bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, the Obama campaign pressured the Justice Department to launch an absurd criminal prosecution.

Item: When commentator Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was invited on a Chicago radio program to discuss his investigation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an “education reform” project in which Obama and Ayers (just “a guy who lives in my neighborhood”) collaborated to dole out over $100 million, the Obama campaign issued an Internet action alert. Supporters, armed with the campaign’s non-responsive talking points, dutifully flooded the program with calls and emails, protesting Kurtz’s appearance and attempting to shout him down.

Item: Both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have indicated that an Obama administration would use its control of the Justice Department to prosecute its political opponents, including Bush administration officials responsible for the national security policies put in effect after nearly 3000 Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Item: There is a troubling report that the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Section, top officials of which are Obama contributors, has suggested criminal prosecutions against those they anticipate will engage in voter “intimidation” or “oppression” in an election involving a black candidate. (Memo to my former DOJ colleagues: In a system that presumes innocence even after crimes have undeniably been committed, responsible prosecutors don’t assume non-suspects will commit future law violations — especially when doing so necessarily undermines the First Amendment freedoms those prosecutors solemnly swear to uphold.) [Emphasis added.]

Just consider the DHS gambit the first of many Domestic Contingency Operations.

I wrote an article for Commentary a while back called “Free Speech for Terrorists?”, in which I argued that jihadist speech — specifically, incitement to mass-murder attacks against the American people — could be be criminalized, investigated and prosecuted consistent with the First Amendment.  In response, I got the predictable raft of “the discourse of dissent is bound up with the rhetoric of revolution” blather from Left-wing academics and civil libertarians, insisting that a functioning, free democracy could not afford to chill the expression of Zawahiri wannabes lest we miss some kernel of truth we need to hear about how lousy we are that CAIR and the ACLU hadn’t covered yet.  I wonder where they are now.  Probably on the email trail.

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