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Robert Scheer: On Civil Liberties, Obama's 'Probably the Worst President We’ve Had'

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

alpuerto (CC BY-SA 2.0)

On civil liberties and transparency, President Obama “makes George W. Bush and Richard Nixon look good by comparison,” Truthdig Editor-in-Chief Robert Scheer told Salon writer Elias Isquith in an interview about Scheer’s new book, “They Know Everything About You: How Data-Collecting Corporations and Snooping Government Agencies Are Destroying Democracy.”

At one point in the interview, Scheer says of Obama’s record on civil liberties, “He’s probably the worst president that we’ve had in our history. …”

To Isquith’s question, “What made you want to write this book?” Scheer answered:

I think the Internet is the best and worst of worlds. I love it. I edit an Internet publication and it’s been very liberating, and yet it has the seeds of very vicious surveillance and destruction of privacy. I’ve been concerned about this for some time. I think it was 1999 — I worked on a special issue of Yahoo Internet Life — and this is before 9/11 — which was warning that the government was already in the business of mining this data. It seemed to me we were indeed entering a brave new world that we were barely comprehending.

That has accelerated since 9/11 dramatically, not only because the government had license to grab this material in the name of making us safer, but also because computers are faster and the ability to store data has much expanded and the amount that people turn over freely and easily now is astounding. I think I used my thumbprint about 10 times already this morning just trying to make my iPhone 6 Plus work. If any government anywhere in the world had required you to give your thumbprint every time you did anything it would be considered the most invasive totalitarian society. We’ve accepted as normal a degree of intrusion that would have been astounding any time in history, and we do it because we’re thinking in terms of consumer sovereignty as a main expression of our freedom; we want the convenience of picking that restaurant or what-have-you.

Continue reading here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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