By Thomas Hedges, Center for Study of Responsive Law

Justice Party presidential candidate Rocky Anderson stood outside the White House on the eve of the election demanding that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder respond to the stripping away of American rights that began under George W. Bush and accelerated when Obama took office in 2008.

Next to him were two enlarged pictures, one of a dismissive letter from Holder in response to Anderson’s demand that anti-torture laws and the War Powers clause be complied with, and another with more than a hundred names of prominent activists who support his cause.

“Our president,” he said loudly, competing with the wind, “is identifying people around the world he wants killed and in the process killing hundreds if not thousands of innocent[s] … in other sovereign nations without authority from Congress to make war. He’s unilaterally decided to go to war, as we did in Libya, with no authorization from Congress, which is contrary to the War Powers clause. And now he’s claiming the power of the federal government to kidnap and imprison anybody that he points the finger at without due process.”

Anderson pressed Obama on legislation such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which Obama promised to shoot down as a senator and then favored when he took office in 2008, and the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens without due process.

Anderson, a lawyer who served as mayor of Salt Lake City from 2000 to 2008, says people support an image of Obama that is not consistent with his voting record.

“There’s this us vs. them phenomenon, where you attribute all the good virtues to those on your team and all the bad ones to the other, even when it’s shown that people on your team are doing the kinds of things that you would be up in arms about.

“And because it’s President Obama doing this, it really makes him not the lesser of two evils but the more effective of the evils because now the Democrats line up silently behind him, accepting these abuses because Obama’s a member of their team. They’ve sacrificed principle for partisanship.

“That’s why I left the Democratic Party.”

As he spoke to journalists and other supporters, the blowup photos flailed behind him and a woman struggled not to lose them in each burst of cold air. Police had arrived earlier to tell Anderson that tying the blowups to the fence was a felony.

“This is not the country that I grew up in,” he said. “[This new legislation] is transforming our nation into the kind of totalitarian state we used to be very proud to distinguish ourselves from.”

“All they’re telling us,” he said, turning and pointing at the letter from Holder, “is that there are people in government who are above the law. … When somebody’s violated the law, the chips ought to fall wherever they may and people need to be held accountable, even if they’re rich and powerful.”

This article was made possible by the Center for Study of Responsive Law.

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