The author of Recarving Rushmore, Dr. Ivan Eland, says, "Historically, the post-9/11 U.S. government torture of detainees and other civil liberties violations--for example, warrantless government surveillance on most Americans, detention of suspects indefinitely without trial, the creation of kangaroo military tribunals in lieu of civilian courts, the singling out of Muslims for immigration violations and deportation, rendition of suspects to other countries known for torturing prisoners, CIA secret prisons, and the Guantanamo offshore prison in Cuba--may have been the worst constitutional scandal in American history. George W. Bush started most of these unconstitutional or illegal government activities, but Obama has continued most of the practices, albeit with ameliorating developments in some cases. One major area in which Obama claims to have reversed Bush policy is U.S. torture of detainees, which was the subject of the damning Senate Intelligence Committee report. Taken all together this civil liberties scandal has stretched over two administrations and continues long after 9/11.
If each presidential administration is examined in isolation, however, some constitutional scandals rival this one, which stretches over two administrations. As for political scandals, the Reagan administration's Iran-Contra was probably the worst in American history, followed closely by Watergate. As for scandals eroding civil liberties during wartime, the incarceration in prison camps of approximately 100,000 Japanese residents and Japanese-Americans by FDR during World War II for no good reason rivals throwing people in jail for disagreeing with American wars--as was the case during World War I under Woodrow Wilson and with the passage of the Alien and Sedition Acts during the Quasi-War with France in the last years of 18th century under the administration of John Adams."