February 16, 2010

Obama not as different from Bush as he seems, law professor says

Despite the perception of widespread policy changes between Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, there has been little change in the state of American civil liberties, Professor of Law Aziz Huq said Wednesday at a campus ACLU–sponsored event.

Over 30,000 aliens were detained by the Bush Administration after 9/11, Huq said, many the victims of police tips, in which “citizens would call police after seeing two Arab men talk at a gas station.”

The Obama administration continued detaining and deporting non-citizens with little evidence of wrongdoing, Huq said. He is working on the case of an immigrant from Uzbekistan who faces deportation because videos of the Czech rebellion were stored on a computer he had access to. “Bush era regulations that allowed those sweeps are still in the boat,” Huq said.

Obama has even signed into law provisions that make such prosecutions easier, Huq said. Bush was accused of not obtaining proper warrants under the Federal Intelligence Surveillance Act, but Obama approved the removal of a section requiring those individual warrants. “The same kind of thing is going on with Obama’s blessing,” Huq said.

Huq also pointed to the continued operation of Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, a mainstay of the Bush era that Obama promised to close over a year ago.