The First 100 Days of the Obama Administration: Small Glimmers of Hope, but Little Real Change

Hat tip: Center for Constitutional Rights

The first 100 days of the Obama administration presented a historic opportunity to restore the Constitution after the Bush administration’s systematic attempts to dismantle it, right by right, while ignoring international human rights standards. Yet, despite several strong steps, the Obama presidency has failed to live up to its promises in many areas of critical importance, including human rights, torture, rendition, secrecy and surveillance.

In the 2008 elections, the people of the United States resoundingly rejected the Bush administration legacy of torture, warrantless surveillance and a seemingly endless expansion of executive power under the rubric of the “war on terror.” What remained to be seen, however, was the political willingness and commitment of the Obama administration to not only promise hope and change, but to take concrete action to free the United States, its people and the world of the attacks on civil liberties and other human rights over the past 8 years – and beyond – and to restore the Constitution and the freedoms and rights it promises.

The Center for Constitutional Rights is committed to a vision of social justice that requires resolute action to restore and expand the Constitution. The Center has taken action accordingly – from its numerous legal cases challenging attacks on dissent, unlawful detention, extraordinary rendition, torture and other abuses, to its advocacy and education work addressing those same issues – in order to support existing movements and build a national movement for change.

In its first 100 days, the Obama administration has not lived up to its promises of hope and change. The record is contradictory and shows the critical task that lies ahead if we are to push this administration to honor those promises.

The future will judge the Obama administration based on how it handles these challenges. The president must initiate a significant rollback of executive power, far greater than that so far embraced by the administration, and hold high level Bush officials accountable for the crimes they committed.

The intention of this report on the first 100 days of the Obama administration – tracked against CCR’s 100 Days goals for President Obama – is to assess where it has made progress and where it has merely paused or even sustained Bush policies and to provide a guide to moving real change forward. The Obama administration can indeed fulfill its promise – by creating a historic precedent for the rule of law, reestablishing the Constitution and clearly acknowledging – despite 8 years of assertions of imperial power – that presidential power does not include automatic immunity for criminal acts.

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