Conspiracy-minded movie director Oliver Stone has again spoken out against Obama administration policies, particularly NSA spying and overseas drone attacks.
A few days before President’s Day, Stone participated in a panel discussion called “Imperial Overreach and the National Security State.” The presentation took place at the 2014 Students For Liberty Conference sponsored by a Libertarian organization. Joining Stone on stage on Saturday was historian Peter Kuznick, Stone’s collaborator on The Untold History of the United States, and journalist Jeremy Scahill.
According to the left-wing filmmaker, who is no fan whatsoever of the President’s GOP predecessors in the Oval Office, Obama has not lived up to expectations:
“The 2008 election was a disaster; we all thought it was going to be a Democratic turning point, it was not; we know that. The surveillance state has continued and grown bigger…”
Stone claimed that various Obama campaign promises, such as government transparency, reconsideration of the war on terror, closing Guantanamo Prison, and other reforms have not happened; in part, because of the selection of cabinet members like Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates and economic advisers from Wall Street. Obama backed down on everything, Stone insisted, “because lack of spine … a weak man … I was stunned.”
If you recall, during the Bush administration, liberals, Democrats, and most of the big media outlets blasted the President for what they considered his “shredding” the US Constitution, and “assaulting” civil liberties.
Scahill, a former writer for the far-left Nation magazine who is now affiliated with Glenn Greenwald’s new venture The Intercept, was more vocal on the panel than Stone. Scahill is up for an Academy Award for his documentary Dirty Wars.
While tossing some barbs at George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Fox News, he reserved most of his criticism for liberals in general, including the MNSBC network, who have remained silent about civil liberties violations under Obama. Scahill did manage some uncharacterisit praise for Republicans like Rand Paul, however.
Jeremy Scahill had this to say about partisan Democrats:
“The vast majority of hate mail I get today is from hardcore partisan Democrats who are nothing more than lemmings for the White House. If you watch MSNBC, it’s like watching one big Obama for America meet-up … I find that we’re in the moment where, at times, Sen. Rand Paul, for instance, when he filibusters the nomination of John Brennan, actually to me is reflecting what should be the core values of liberals when it comes to questions of civil liberties … not a single Democrat will join Rand Paul in that filibuster … this handful of largely libertarian or some of them Tea Party Members of Congress have been leading the way and standing up to this White House on these issues because the Democrats have largely checked their consciences at the door of the Obama presidency.”
Oliver Stone added to the media discussion when he quipped that “I don’t get booked on MSNBC anymore.”
Scahill also said when it comes to US national security policy, the country only has one political party, “the war party.”
Regrading the incumbent president, Scahill continued:
“We are living in a moment we have a man in the White House who won the Nobel Peace Prize [audience laughter], who is a constitutional lawyer by training, and who is presiding over a global assassination program. And presiding over a massive surveillance state … Obama has expanded in many cases some of the most egregious aspects of the Bush-Cheney so-called counterterrorism program.”
An audience member apparently questioned Stone about his man-crush on Hugo Chavez, the late socialist dictator of Venezuela. This exchange seems not included on the video for some reason. Stone reportedly responded, “The American press does not give the Venezuelan administration a fair shake.”
Opposition to massive government electronic surveillance and overseas deployment of drones is where some on the political left (other than MSNBC and its various cohorts, of course) and the right have come together to a certain extent. Some liberals and progressives are also joining with conservatives and libertarians to disapprove of the President’s unconstitutional use of executive orders to bypass Congress.
Oliver Stone, who is a decorated Vietnam veteran, has criticized Obama before. In August 2013, the director of Platoon, Wall Street, JFK, Nixon, and Natural Born Killers referred to the President as a “snake… and we have to turn on him.”
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