The president took a wide range of questions from Americans via the social-media forum, but he did not take a single question on the National Defense Authorization Act or drug policy, which were asked about repeatedly via the White House's YouTube stream leading up to the first presidential Google Plus Hangout.
Obama received 133,219 questions via the YouTube portal in the leadup to the conversation, more than 1,100 of which mentioned NDAA and 2,800 of which mentioned the word drug. The majority of these questions were ranked favorably by the public, but he did not take the time to address any of them, though he did take a number of softballs about his wedding anniversary and potentially visiting a YouTube user's school.
Evidence emerged in recent days that questions on hot topics had also been systematically removed from the site and replaced with the following statement: This submission has been removed because people believe it is inappropriate.
But many questions about Obama's handling of the NDAA - which he signed Dec. 31 - still remained as of the start of the Google Hangout and Youtube forum, such as this highly rated one from a Washington state YouTube user: On New Years Eve you signed the NDAA, which gives you or any other president the power to arrest any U.S. citizen who suspected of being a terrorist and hold them indefinitely without trial. Could you please explain how this is constitutional?
A number of journalists and observers noted the trend of removed comments in the days leading up to the conversation, for instance David Seaman, a Business Insider contributor, who wrote on his Suicide Girls blog on Jan. 24 about the questions related to the NDAA being deleted from the site: Unfortunately, it appears they are deleting these NDAA comments - almost unbelievable. When this videocast was recorded, there were 13,913 questions asking about NDAA. As of 4:16 PM ET today, however, that number has been thinned to only 1,156 questions.
Obama has been silent on the NDAA since he signed it into law. Many Americans protested the law before it was signed, especially provisions in it that allow the U.S. military to detain Americans indefinitely on suspicion of terrorism-related activity without charging them with a specific crime or granting them access to a trial.
The Obama administration's drug policy, which is largely a continuation of ongoing American policy toward drugs -- often summed up using the term War on Drugs -- has long been under attack as a monumental waste of money, as it leaves many non-violent criminals in jail for years at great expense to taxpayers.