Comparing Obama and Bush’s Records on Wartime Civil Liberties

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On this week’s episode of Moyers & Company, Bill speaks with Vicki Divoll and Vincent Warren about some similarities and differences in President Bush and President Obama’s approaches to civil liberties during the “war on terror.” Did Obama’s first term bring substantive policy change on issues such as drones strikes, surveillance and torture? Use this interactive timeline, created by ProPublica, to decide for yourself.

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  • Rico

    You should add the additional legislation passed under Obomba that reiterates or expands existing legislation, such as NDAA.

  • Peter McNamee

    Thanks for remaining a clear and honest beacon cutting through the fog of propaganda spewed at the American public.

  • Kris Rosvold

    Can we please charge any legislator who voted for NDAA with treason as they SWORE to protect the Constitution and are WORKING to GUT it!?

  • Dean Libey

    Mr. Moyers thank you for the continued truth you offer. I’ve welcomed your views for years.

  • sam smith

    I have been tortured by the Virginia Sate Police and the Newport News Police for over 4 1/2 years. Just because you can’t see the blood, doesn’t make it any less painful. Please help. It is so painful. Pelase help, please, please. I need 100,00 signature in 30 days in order to stop the torture. Please help, please. Please sign my petition at:

  • Isis

    Why isn’t the Whistle Blowers act on here too? And the number of government/military whistle blowers each has gone after?

  • Dolores

    Thank you for helping us find out so much about what is going on on our name.

  • Richard Raznikov

    This is a bit disingenuous. Although the chart indicates that CIA ‘black sites’ and torture have been halted under Obama, it would be naive to think that’s so. The CIA continues to kidnap people and send them to countries where they are tortured. We have simply ‘cleaned it up a little’ so that it’s deniable. The confirmation of the Brennan appointment, hell, the appointment itself is eloquent evidence that torture is still going on and Obama’s still doing it regardless of what he claims.

  • MBrecker

    Obama says he has the right to monitor all of my communications. If he says I’m a “terrorist”, he can kill me anywhere in the world. As for torture, he outsources it for deniability. As for potentially prosecuting him for making real terrorism worse, nobody will dare to do it. Why? Those with money and power will never allow it.

  • Anonymous

    You point out a major flaw in the above chart and I hope Moyers and editors of this page correct this. Also, it should be mentioned that Obama’s DoJ has basically whitewashed the entire chapter on the torture team’s operations.

  • Peace&JusticeLady

    People being tortured by Drone flights in other countries, would argue it is torturous. So maybe where Enhanced interrogation was banned, a new category should be added called indirect torture, or mental torture

  • Angela Walker

    Let’s not go straining at gnats, trying to come up with new definitions of “torture” just to fit a personal agenda. Any kind of warfare could be defined as “torture” if one wants to follow your logic.

  • Lisa Kazmier

    A comparison here would be very helpful.

  • William Wilson

    If we consider the Americans that have been tased and jailed trying to protect American soil from the multinationals that know no loyalties we would have to consider the Keystone Pipes as promoting internal terror where asthma, massive spills, and our promotiong of rare cancers downstream in Canada puts us back into an uncivilized time. In fact we do not need a military if we open the front door to the right wing new oil state of Canada and let the KeystoneXL go right through the heart of America and push our addiction out another few decades.

  • xnlover

    There is another, better word for what you describe: terrorism. The US military has become the most powerful and most feared terrorist force in the world.

  • Lois Matelan

    I don’t think it is entirely fair to equate the actions of Bush, who started multiple wars, at least one under false pretenses, initiated and attempted to justify torture as a means of gaining information, inaugurated policies that ignored civil liberties, and opened Guantanamo to house unindicted non-citizens, with those of Obama, who took office facing two wars, both of which he has wound down significantly, attempted to close Guantanamo to be met with massive resistance in Congress, banned torture, and has asked Congress to clarify the current limitations on presidential actions with regard to privacy rights,

  • Don Liston

    Yes, Obama made everyone think that he was a naïve, unprepared, opportunist who just wanted to be the first black president. The country was in so much trouble that one victory would easily satisfy his liberal constituency. He ended the war that had proved that our president and his staff had no idea who or what the Sunnis and Shias were or, as David Letterman once commented, George W. Bush doesn’t know a Shiite from Shinola. Instead of rounding up a million soldiers and the two billion dollar per month military operation, he used trained special forces to eliminate the heads of terrorist cells and stop some of the recruitment that had been so deadly. He also made use of the lowest cost weapon that we had that was more deadly than a stealth bomber, the armed drone. He reorganized the economy, saved General Motors and sold off other companies that could be saved. To make matters worse, he sent in a team to kill or capture Osama bin Ladin and take him out of the picture. It was a success…he killed the snake and the rest of the body is dying.

    He is criticized by the people who get all of their news from Internet pundits who also don’t know a Shiite from Shinola but it doesn’t matter anymore. He has maintained over 50% approval throughout most of his terms and the present Republicans are gathering up their heavy hitters like Rand Paul and other brainless wonders for the next election. Maybe the people will talk Obama into running for a third term?

  • Art Brennan

    Both puppets. Obama is a better liar.