Obama should reverse course and reject Bush-Cheney policies on the drug war, illegal surveillance, executive power, and Social Security cuts

GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES: Obama should reverse course and reject Bush-Cheney policies on the drug war, illegal surveillance, executive power, and Social Security cuts

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders challenged the Obama Administration to reverse the failed policies and reject the agenda of the Bush Administration, citing as examples the war on drugs; torture, illegal surveillance, and other Bush-Cheney abuses of power; and cuts in Social Security.

"The Clinton Administration accomplished what the Republicans had tried to enact but failed -- welfare 'reform', NAFTA and other antidemocratic international trade authorities, deregulation of credit markets and telecommunications giants. Will Barack Obama deliver what George W. Bush promised?" asked Budd Dickinson, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States.

Greens said that the Democratic Party's retreats, betrayals, and capitulations on so many major issues proved the failure of the two-party status quo and the need for the Green Party's emergence.


The bipartisan war on drugs has proven disastrous on two fronts, said Greens. Domestically, it has resulted in the incarceration of record numbers of Americans, especially young African Americans, Latinos, and poor people on nonviolent drug charges, with one in 31 Americans now in prison or on parole. South of the border, US drug prohibition has led to the breakdown of civil order, with powerful drug cartels, corrupt law enforcement, and a spike in killings most recently in Mexico, and similar long-term effects in Colombia and other Latin American countries where drug production serves a US market.

"The Obama Administration and new Congress could put drug-related organized crime out of business very quickly and drastically reduce America's burgeoning prison population by ending the war on drugs, by legalizing virtually harmless drugs like marijuana, and by treating addiction to harder drugs as a medical and social problem rather than by locking people up. A politician's stance on the drug war is a true test of character -- or lack thereof," said Cliff Thornton, co-chair of the Green Party of the United States and co-founder of the drug law reform organization Efficacy, Inc. (Speakers Bureau page for Mr. Thornton.)

"Unfortunately, both Democrats and Republicans are themselves addicted to 'tough on crime' rhetoric and failed ideas about drugs as a law enforcement issue. Politicians from the two parties have also surrendered to the demands of the expanding private prison industry, whose profits depend on more and more inmates filling up cells," added Nan Garrett, former co-chair of Georgia Green Party, and one of the founders of Georgians Opposed to Prohibition, an organization founded toward changing the prohibition aspects of the War on Drugs, as well as co-chair of the National Women's Caucus (Ms. Garrett's Speakers Bureau Page: ).


Greens, like millions of other Americans, have been dismayed by the Obama Administration's adoption of many Bush-Cheney policies that patently violate the US Constitution: immunity for telecomm firms that allowed illegal surveillance of US citizens; domestic torture and the rendition of suspects to other countries for torture; denial of habeas corpus; secretly held prisoners at US bases in Bagram and possibly other locations; missile strikes inside Pakistan; workplace immigration raids; and the expansion of executive power in defiance of constitutional checks and balances.

The Green Party repeatedly called for investigation, impeachment, and prosecution of all White House officials, including Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, who participated in or enabled such abuses. Greens asserted that the end of the Bush Administration is no reason not to demand accountability from Bush officials, beginning with former Justice Department counsel John Yoo, who provided legal opinions justifying torture, warrantless wiretapping, and other crimes.

"President Obama's adoption of illegal Bush Administration policies proves why impeachment was so important. When Congress refused to hold Bush officials accountable for their abuses of power, they set the stage for future administrations -- regardless of party -- to maintain unconstitutional policies and repeat such abuses," said Ben Manski, an attorney specializing in issues of federalism and the rule of law and a former national co-chair of the Green Party (Speakers Bureau page.)

"Nor should we ignore the collusion of Democratic leaders who were informed of illegal actions, manipulated intelligence, and attempts to deceive the public. The Democratic rubberstamp for so many illegal Bush-Cheney policies and actions shows the breakdown of democracy and the rule of law," said Mr. Manski.


Green Party leaders expressed alarm at reports that President Obama was considering cuts to Social Security and Medicare. (The Green Party supports expansion of Medicare to cover every American, in a Single-Payer national health care program.)

"President Obama should resist demands that Social Security benefits be slashed for any group of Americans, or that it should be privatized even partially," said Ron Forthofer, 2002 Green Party candidate for Governor of Colorado (Speakers Bureau page.) "Any cuts in Social Security will further undermine the finances and economic confidence of working people already suffering from loss of income and job security during the recession. Taking away benefits for which people have already paid is a breach of contract with the American people and a theft of their retirement income. The White House and Congress should resist pressure from greedy financial corporations, free-market ideologues, and billionaire bankers like Peter Peterson to cut or privatize our benefits.

"Imagine what would have happened to Social Security benefits if they had been privatized and invested in the Stock Market before the economy tanked," added Dr. Forthofer.