John Cusack on Civil Liberties, Drones, and NSA Spying: “Obama Is Worse Than Bush”

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John Cusack

A few days ago, it was revealed that actor Vince Vaughn, in an interview for the July issue of British GQ, expressed his support for gun rights, referred to the war on drugs as “absolutely f***ing ridiculous, and called Edward Snowden a “hero.”

It isn’t unusual for celebrities to be open about their political beliefs or support for a particular candidate (typically a Democrat).

But every once in a while, an actor speaks up and it makes headlines because what they said is so controversial – and true.

John Cusack is one of those people.

The Hollywood veteran, known for being outspoken (“I just say what I think, and if people don’t like it, that’s OK.”), was recently interviewed by The Daily Beast, and he didn’t mince words when asked about Obama’s approval ratings dropping below those of George W. Bush:

“Well, Obama has certainly extended and hardened the cement on a lot of Bush’s post-9/11 Terror, Inc. policies, so he’s very similar to Bush in every way that way. His domestic policy is a bit different, but when you talk about drones, the American Empire, the NSA, civil liberties, attacks on journalism and whistleblowers, he’s as bad or worse than Bush. He hasn’t started as many wars, but he’s extended the ones we had, and I don’t even think Dick Cheney or Richard Nixon would say the president has the right to unilaterally decide whom he can kill around the world. On Tuesdays, the president can just decide whom he wants to kill, and you know, since 9/11 there are magic words like “terror,” and if you use magic words, you can justify any power grab you want.”

The Daily Beast article, titled John Cusack Talks ‘Love & Mercy,’ Drug Trips, and the Ways Obama Is ‘Worse Than Bush’, was published today, and it looks like Cusack isn’t too pleased with the headline:

Cusack’s Tweets don’t specify which parts of the interview were edited, but the actor has expressed disapproval of the Obama administration in the past. In a 2012 piece titled John Cusack & Jonathan Turley on Obama’s Constitution, he discussed violations of constitutional rights and civil liberties, unjust wars, torture, and drone strikes under Obama.

In the introduction to that article, Cusack said:

“One is forced to asked the question: Is the President just another Ivy League A**hole shredding civil liberties and due process and sending people to die in some sh*thole for purely political reasons?”

The entire discussion between Cusack and Turley, a professor and constitutional law expert, is intriguing and I highly recommend giving it a read.

In an interview with NJ.com – also in 2012 – Cusack discussed politics with writer Stephen Whitty, who called the actor a “passionate guy”:

Because unlike much of Hollywood, the contrarian Cusack doesn’t believe in dull, automatic, uncritical devotion to the Democratic Party. Not that the die-hard progressive is going to vote Republican anytime soon. But “intellectual honesty should trump brand loyalty,” he insists. “Just because you might like how Obama handled the auto bailout doesn’t mean you should give him a pass on civil liberties.”

“We all keep getting caught up in this argument over what’s good for the party,” he says of Democrats. “How about what’s good for the republic? The question is, who are we becoming once we throw out habeas corpus, once we start targeting our own citizens for assassination. … We saw the power of the executive branch grow under Bush/Cheney. Obama’s only expanded that.”

“In the end, people have to vote their conscience,” Cusack says with a sigh. “It’s a complex question. It’s complex stuff. But in the end, for me, the answer couldn’t be simpler, which is that there are some things you can’t support. … Politicians can’t take away our rights. We own those. They can’t act like that — in fact, the framers of the Constitution set it up the way they did precisely so they could not act like that.”

Cusack also has been an active contributor The Huffington Post, where he has blogged about NSA spying, Edward Snowden, his opposition to the war in Iraq, and his disdain for the Bush administration, calling its worldview “depressing, corrupt, unlawful, and tragically absurd.”

He spoke out against NSA mass surveillance in Stop Watching Us, an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) video. Cusack has been a very vocal supporter of Edward Snowden. In a call with reporters in 2013, he expressed frustration with the media’s character assassination of the NSA whistleblower:

“Why are the red and blue elites in the establishment press so afraid of an informed public?” he asked rhetorically. “Why do they keep changing the subject?” “Have the establishment media been so co-opted by government access that they’ve lost all sense of proportionality?”

“We’re not morons,” he said. “The questions this NSA scandal raises aren’t going away. How long do we expect rational people to excuse the abuse of power?”

The actor sits on the Board of Directors for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit organization “dedicated to helping support and defend public-interest journalism focused on exposing mismanagement, corruption, and law-breaking in government.” Famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg is a co-founder of the organization, and Edward Snowden is on the board as well.

Over the last few years, Cusack has offered up blunt criticism of the Obama administration on his verified Twitter account.

Some examples:

Love or hate celebrities, it benefits all of us when those who have a voice that reaches far and wide speak up about government lies and corruption, and violations of our Constitutional rights.

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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”

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