Obama's gulag expands

News item No. 1:

CHICAGO - Two anti-war activists said Saturday that a 12-hour search of their Chicago home by the FBI was an attempt to intimidate them and silence the peace movement.

Joe Iosbaker and his wife, Stephanie Weiner, said the government targeted them because they've been outspoken against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. funding of conflicts abroad. They denied any wrongdoing.

News item: No.2

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration yesterday invoked the state secrets privilege in an effort to kill a lawsuit on behalf of US-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an alleged terrorist said to be targeted for death or capture under a covert US government program....

"The idea that courts should have no role whatsoever in determining the criteria by which the executive branch can kill its own citizens is unacceptable in a democracy," the American Civil Liberties Union and the Center for Constitutional Rightssaid in a statement.

News item No. 3:

WASHINGTON - Federal law enforcement and national security officials are preparing to seek sweeping new regulations for the Internet, arguing that their ability to wiretap criminal and terrorism suspects is "going dark" as people increasingly communicate online instead of by telephone.

Essentially, officials want Congress to require all services that enable communications - including encrypted e-mail transmitters like BlackBerry, social networking Web sites like Facebook and software that allows direct "peer to peer" messaging like Skype - to be technically capable of complying if served with a wiretap order. The mandate would include being able to intercept and unscramble encrypted messages.

President Obama may have talked a good game about "transforming" America in the 2008 campaign -- but when it comes to transforming that 60-year-old national security state he inherited from George W. Bush and the presidents who came before him, he's making it worse. Obama is continuing to push presidential power to the extreme, seeking to reduce the power not just of Congress and the courts but the American people, and harming civil liberties. It's sad but not surprising.

When you're done with the book I've been hyping here for the last month, I would urge everyone to pick up the new Washington Rules by Andrew Bacevich, the retired Army colonel and academic who's become the voice of conscience for breaking the cycle that now has created a permanent state of war in America. I worry that -- just like alcoholism or any personal addiction -- America will never break that crippling cycle unless we hit rock-bottom, and nobody wants that.