The Most Recent Heinous Crimes Carried Out by Democratic Presidents or Congresses: A Chart

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To our readers: This table outlines some of the criminal actions by Democratic presidents and Congressional Democrats in just the recent decades. While not including all that the Democrats carried out in this period, even this reveals the enormous human cost of their crimes. Go here for a more overall chart on the crimes carried out by the U.S. ruling class, and the Democrats in particular, from the end of World War 2 to the present.



The Human Cost

Hyde Amendment, 1976

Carter (D)

Clinton (D)

The Hyde Amendment, named for Henry Hyde, Republican congressman from Illinois, was originally passed by Congress in 1976, three years after Roe v. Wade legalized abortion. Democratic president Jimmy Carter was inaugurated shortly after that. Hyde forbids the use of federal funds to pay for abortions. Carter supported the amendment when it faced legal challenges all the way to the Supreme Court. The amendment has been reauthorized every year, and until 1993 applied to all abortions. Bill Clinton signed the 1993 version of Hyde, which allowed federal funds to be used for abortions in the cases of rape and incest but kept the rest of the amendment alive. In 1994, an exception for the life of the woman was added to the amendment, but again the bulk of the restrictions were kept in place. Hyde continues to circumscribe and endanger the lives of women, especially Black, Latino, and Native women, and many other poor women and has been reenacted year after year.1

Building of border barriers and massive deportation, 1990s


Clinton (D)

It was under Bill Clinton that the construction of fences and barriers began:

  • In 1993 “Operations Safeguard” and “Hold the Line” authorized the construction of fences along the U.S.-Mexico border in Arizona and Texas respectively.
  • In 1994 “Operation Gatekeeper” authorized construction on a 13-mile “Border Wall” along a line in the sand between San Diego and Tijuana.
  • In 1996—President Clinton signed the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigration Responsibility Act, increasing fines for illegal entry and approving funding for more patrols and fence construction. Emigrants shifted away from the traditional crossings into privately held land, causing landowners to fence their property.

These operations were justified in the name of stemming illegal immigration and drug trafficking from Latin America. But with the ratification of NAFTA in 1994, the Clinton administration anticipated that the effects of NAFTA would force growing numbers of immigrants to flee Mexico. Together these measures greatly increased the danger of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border—some 8,000 people have died since the 1990s trying to cross the border in the desert areas of the border.2 And the Clinton measures have led to massive deportations and criminal treatment for millions of immigrants coming north from Mexico and Central America.3

In 1994 under Clinton, Operation Gatekeeper authorized construction on a 13-mile border wall between San Diego and Tijuana. Here protesters carry a casket along a section of the U.S.- Mexico border fence in Tijuana, Mexico, October 1, 2004, on the 10th anniversary of Operation Gatekeeper. (Photo: AP)

Sanctions Against Iraq


Clinton (D)

In 1990 the UN—at U.S. insistence—imposed sanctions on Iraq, restricting or stopping Iraq from importing food, fertilizer, water purification chemicals, and other essentials, and blocking Iraq from selling oil and other exports. This was how the U.S. softened up Iraq in preparation for military attack (the First Gulf War).

In 1993, after that devastating war, Bill Clinton became president. He blocked all attempts to reduce or end sanctions. In Iraq, “infant mortality rates ... skyrocketed ... and diseases that had disappeared were reappearing, sometimes at epidemic levels.”4

In 1995 two UN scientists surveyed children in 25 Baghdad neighborhoods. 28 percent had stunted growth, child malnutrition rates had reached the level of the poorest countries in the world, and the rate of child “wasting” (extreme malnutrition) had increased by 400 percent in four years. They estimated that over 500,000 children had already died due to the sanctions.5 Asked about this, Madeleine Albright (then Clinton’s UN ambassador) said “the price” (in children’s lives) “is worth it” (to weaken Sadaam Hussein’s regime).6

Sanctions remained in effect throughout Clinton’s entire term of office (and beyond). By 2000, UNICEF reported that almost half of Iraqi children under five suffered from diarrhea.

Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act (the “Crime Bill”), 1994


Clinton (D)

Clinton oversaw the massive expansion of the prison system. The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act was passed 95-4 in the Senate and by voice vote in the House, and signed by Bill Clinton. The law included many severely repressive measures, including the “one strike you’re out” policy that led to evictions of people living in public housing if they or even their guests were accused of any drug-related offenses or other crimes, whether in or outside the projects.

Among other provisions the Act:

  • Encouraged states to lengthen prison sentences, including with “three strikes” mandatory life sentences
  • Provided funds to put 100,000 more cops on the streets across the country
  • Provided almost $10 billion in funding for new prisons
  • Expanded the offenses that are eligible for a death penalty7

Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA), 1996

Clinton (D)

Signed by Bill Clinton and approved by the Senate 98-1, the AEDPA gutted the right to habeas corpus and severely limited the right to appeal death sentences—even when new evidence emerged after convictions. Clinton said at the signing, “I have long sought to streamline federal appeals for convicted criminals sentenced to the death penalty.... For too long, and in too many cases, endless death row appeals have stood in the way of justice being served.” Among those affected by the law was political prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal, unjustly railroaded and sentenced to death for the murder of a cop, who was prevented from presenting new evidence in his case in a federal court.8

Ending “welfare as we know it,”


Clinton (D)

Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act into law in 1996, fulfilling his campaign promise to “end welfare as we know it.”  The House passed it 256-170 and the Senate passed it 74-24. The law said people could receive no more than five years of welfare in their lifetime, though states could set their limits lower, and could set a two-year limit. More than 13 million people received welfare a year before the law, and by 10 years later, only three million did. Little is known about those moved off welfare, 70 percent of whom are children, because there has been no systematic government monitoring of the effects of the law. Journalist Robert Scheer wrote in 2006, “The best estimates from the Census Bureau and other data, however, indicate that at least a million welfare recipients have neither jobs nor benefits and have sunk deeper into poverty. For those who found jobs, a great many became mired in minimum-wage jobs—sometimes more than one—that barely cover the child-care and other costs they incurred by working outside the home.”9

Defense of Marriage Act, 1996

Clinton (D)

Signed by Bill Clinton, passed by House 341-67 and by the Senate 95-4. Before being ruled unconstitutional in 2013, the law defined marriage for federal purposes as the union of one man and one woman, and allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under the laws of other states. The law effectively barred same-sex married couples from receiving federal marriage benefits, including military family benefits, Social Security benefits, hospital visitation rights, tax credits, health care benefits, etc.10

USA Patriot Act, 2001

G. W. Bush (R)

The USA Patriot Act, signed into law by George W. Bush in 2001 shortly after the 9/11 attacks, greatly expanded government powers of political repression. It was passed by Congress, with a vote of 98-1 in the Senate—only one of the 50 Democratic senators, Russell Feingold, voted against it. The already-existing Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gave huge powers to the government and spy agencies to act on non-U.S. citizens and residents. The Patriot Act put FISA at the disposal of domestic law enforcement agencies, further undermining the constitutional protection against unlawful search and seizure, making everything from people’s email traffic, to videos of daily life, to formerly secret grand jury testimony now available to local police, FBI, and the CIA alike. At the same time, the government got the power to prosecute anyone who revealed what records government agents are taking or who they’re targeting. Other provisions included:

  • Defined “domestic terrorism” as a violation of any criminal statute if that violation is “dangerous to human life” and “appear[s] to be intended to influence the policy of a government by intimidation or coercion.” In other words, “terrorism” was essentially defined as whatever the government says it meant.
  • Opened up huge categories of financial records to government surveillance, from credit reports to bank accounts. Assets the government claimed will be used to support terrorist activities can be seized, without an actual criminal conviction.
  • Created a very broad class of non-citizens who can be deported or barred from entering the U.S. simply for political associations or political statements they have made.

In 2015, key provisions of the Patriot Act were extended with the “USA Freedom Act,” which was overwhelmingly approved by Congress and signed by Obama.11,12

Invasion of Iraq, 2003-2016

George W. Bush (R)

Obama (D)

In 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq and overthrew Saddam Hussein and his regime based on the lie that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. war and occupation led to the rise of reactionary Islamic jihadism, armed resistance, and ethnic-sectarian conflict which continues to this day. From 2003 to 2016, 251,000 Iraqis were killed in the war, including between 168,239 and 187,378 civilians. Other studies of estimate that between 1.2 and 1.4 million (and perhaps as many as 2.4 million) have died from the war’s direct and indirect impacts. More than 4.2 million Iraqis had been injured and at least 4.5 million driven from their homes by 2016.The overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress, including Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, all supported the Iraq war and repeated Bush administration claims.13

Massacre in Gaza, 2008-09

George W. Bush (R)

Between December 27, 2008 and January 19, 2009, Israel waged a war of wanton destruction and death against the people of Gaza—killing between 1,166 and 1,417 people, including 844 unarmed civilians, 281 of them children. On January 9, Democrats and Republicans in both houses of Congress voted overwhelmingly in support of Israel’s actions, declaring—in direct opposition to the findings of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the International Committee of the Red Cross and other humanitarian organizations—that Israel’s armed forces bore no responsibility for the large numbers of civilian casualties from their assault on Gaza.14

Palestinian family escaping the bombing in southern Gaza Strip, 2008. (Photo: AP)

Deportations of more than three million people, 2008-2016

Obama (D)

In the eight years of his presidency, Obama deported over three million people—more than W. Bush’s two million, more than all the people deported from the U.S. before 1997. In 2012, Obama deported 409,849 people, the highest number for one year up to now. Obama also separated more families than any president before him. Obama told Telemundo TV, “I make no apologies for us enforcing the law as well as the work we’ve done to strengthen border security.”

Behind such numbers lie the devastated lives of millions of immigrants.15

U.S. backing for 2009 coup in Honduras

Obama (D)

On June 28, 2009, the Honduran military carried out a coup against the elected president, Manuel Zelaya, a liberal-leaning populist. The key generals leading the coup were graduates of the U.S. School of the Americas, run by the U.S. military to train Latin American military officers. The U.S. ambassador to Honduras told President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that Zelaya’s removal was “an illegal and unconstitutional coup.” In fact, Obama, Clinton, and the U.S. State Department had known ahead of time that a coup was in the works, and once the generals ousted Zelaya, they only issued mild criticisms, calling it an “action.” Within days Clinton stepped in with a strategy to make sure the coup succeeded and could claim legitimacy: elections would be held without Zelaya being allowed to take part. The regime brought to power with the coup was openly fascistic and more pro-U.S., plunging the Honduran people even more deeply into the hell of U.S. domination, state-sponsored political assassinations and terrorism, and intensified violence, poverty, and oppression. These horrors have continued to today—and this is one of the major factors forcing tens of thousands of people from Central America to make the desperate trek north toward the U.S. in search of refuge and means to survive.16

The key generals leading the 2009 coup in Honduras were graduates of the U.S. School of the Americas. The coup brought to power an openly fascistic and more pro-U.S. regime, and plunged the Honduran people even more deeply into the hell of U.S. domination (Photo: AP)

Arming, backing, and enabling the Saudi-led war in Yemen 2009-2016

Obama (D)

Trump (R)

The U.S. backing for Saudi Arabia-led war in Yemen began under Obama, through arms sales and refueling, logistical, intelligence, and special operations forces. From 2009 to 2016, according to a report by the Center for International Policy, the Obama administration concluded 42 separate arms deals with Saudi Arabia totaling more than $115 billion, a higher sum than during any previous administration.

In March 2015, Saudi Arabia, with U.S. backing, launched a war against Yemen’s Houthi movement which had taken power. The Atlantic noted, “In a 2015 report, Amnesty International observed that the United States and Britain were providing the Saudis with cluster bombs, ‘which often lie unexploded and can cause horrific injuries long after the initial attack.’ Noting that Saudi Arabia and its ally, the United Arab Emirates, had conducted airstrikes killing at least 513 civilians, including 157 children, Amnesty insisted that ‘there is no reasonable explanation by states such as the U.S. and the UK that would justify their continued support and irresponsible arms flows to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition.’”17

Bombing of Libya, 2011

Obama (D)

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the U.S. in the attack on Libya in 2011. In the name of protecting Libyan civilians, the U.S. and its NATO allies (including Britain and France) seized on a mass uprising against Muammar Qaddafi’s oppressive 42-year-long rule to wage a war to overthrow him and tighten their grip on Libya. Of the attack, Obama said, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives.” And Clinton laughed on TV about the killing of Qaddafi, saying, “We came, we saw, he died.”

For seven months, the U.S.-led coalition carried out extensive bombing raids and military operations that killed between 10,000 and 30,000 Libyans and drove out Qaddafi’s regime.

With no central government, Libya was plunged into a state of chaos, lives of the people shattered. Libya was turned into a battleground between reactionaries, and life became a nightmare for the masses, with shortages of food, water, and electricity, a third of the population without medical care, and a half million people forced to flee their homes. NATO forces had targeted civilian infrastructure, especially water supplies, during their 2011 attacks. Today a third of Libya’s people remain impoverished, and many do not have access to clean water or sewer systems.

The Democratic Party in the executive and legislative branches sponsored and supported this crime.18,19

NATO airstrike destroyed university in Libya, 2011. (Photo: AP)

2014 Gaza War: July 8, 2014‒August 26, 2014

Obama (D)

2,251 Palestinians were killed, including 1,462 Palestinian civilians, of whom 299 were women and 551 children; and 11,231 Palestinians, including 3,540 women and 3,436 children, were injured... of whom 10 percent suffered permanent disability as a result. More than 100,000 Palestinians in Gaza were left without a habitable home to return to, and 497,000 people were internally displaced. At that time, U.S. President Obama tried to justify this slaughter by claiming it was just Israel exercising its right to defend itself and the United States Congress expressed vigorous support for Israel, passing legislation providing Israel with an additional $225 million in military aid for missile defense with a bipartisan 395-8 vote in the House of Representatives and by unanimous consent in the Senate.20

Arming, backing, and enabling the Saudi-led war in Yemen, 2016‒present

Trump (R)

Since the start of the Saudi-led war in Yemen, between 57,000 and 60,000 Yemenis have been killed. The Saudis have bombed Yemen’s food, water, and medical systems, causing massive hunger and disease. At least 85,000 children have starved to death as a result and 14 million Yemenis are on the brink of famine.

In December 2018, the Senate passed a toothless resolution directing that U.S. military be removed from hostilities in or affecting Yemen. The House procedurally did not take a vote on this, killing it.21

Move of U.S. embassy to Jerusalem

December 2017

Trump (R)

Both Democrats and Republicans supported the fascist Trump regime’s moving of the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In a statement, Chuck Schumer, the Democratic minority leader in the Senate, said: “Every nation should have the right to choose its capital. I sponsored legislation to do this two decades ago, and I applaud President Trump for doing it.”22

Israeli attacks on Gaza, May 2018

Donald Trump (R)


In May 2018, the Israeli military repeatedly attacked unarmed Palestinian protests in Gaza, killing at least 60, including women and children--the largest loss of life since the 2014 Israeli invasion of Gaza. About 2,700 people were also injured.23 Most Democrats remained silent.


1. The Hyde Amendment and Coverage for Abortion Services, Kaiser Family Foundation, October 16, 2017; The Hyde Amendment, Again, Washington Post, June 3, 1977; A Compromise on Abortion: The Hyde Amendment, by Malloy Owen, The Gate, March 11, 2017.  [back]

2. The Desert Should Not Be a Death Sentence, Jusine Orlobsky-Schnitzler, staff member with No More Deaths/No Más Muertes, New York Times, December 18, 2018.  [back]

3. The disastrous, forgotten 1996 law that created today’s immigration problem, by Dara Lind,, April 28, 2016; The Racism and Immorality of the Operation Gatekeeper Death Trap, Bill Ong Hing, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, April 13, 2015.  [back]

4. Were Sanctions Right?, New York Times, July 27, 2003.  [back]

5. Iraq Sanctions Kill Children, UN Reports, New York Times, December 1, 1995.  [back]

6. Punishing Sadaam, YouTube excerpt of 60 Minutes episode of May 12, 1996.  [back]

7. The crime bill: why is it so controversial? by Jessica Lussenhop,, April 18, 2016.  [back]

8. New Developments in the Ongoing Railroad of Mumia Abu-Jamal,, August 3, 2008.  [back]

9. Clinton Ended Welfare, Not Poverty, by Robert Scheer, HuffingtonPost, May 5, 2011.  [back]

10. Frequently Asked Questions: Defense of Marriage Act, GLAAD; The Defense of Marriage Act, PBS News Hour, April 30, 2004.  [back]

11. Warning! The USA Patriot Act and Other Dangerous Things,, July 6, 2003.  [back]

12. The ‘USA Freedom Act’: Freedom to Spy and Suppress,, June 8, 2015.  [back]

13. American Crime Case #70: “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” 2003,, December 5, 2016.  [back]

14. American Crime Case #30: Israel’s U.S.-Armed and -Backed Massacre in Gaza (2008-2009),, December 17, 2018; Congressional Support for Israel’s War on Gaza Shows Bipartisan Hostility toward International Law, Huffington Post, March 19, 2009.  [back]

15. Deportations/Removals, Migration Policy Institute; Rising deportations still less than under Obama, The Gazette, December 16, 2018.  [back]

16. American Crime Case #75: Obama, Clinton and the 2009 Military Coup in Honduras,, October 24, 2016.  [back]

17. What the Yemen Vote Reveals About the Democratic Party, by Peter Beinart, Atlantic, December 4, 2018.  [back]

18. American Crime Case #35: The 2011 U.S.-NATO War on Libya,, September 3, 2018.  [back]

19. Libya votes shows House divided, by Jonathan Allen and Seung Min Kim, Politico, June 25, 2011.  [back]

20. Key figures on the 2014 hostilities - Data featured in the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict, United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Occupied Palestinian Territory, June 23, 2015; U.S. Senate Unanimously Approves Resolution Giving Full Support of Israel on Gaza, HAARETZ, July 20, 2014.  [back]

21. 85,000 Children in Yemen May Have Died of Starvation, New York Times, November 21, 2018; Yemeni children die as warring sides block aid deliveries: UNICEF, Reuters, November 2, 2018; Saudi Arabia Escalates Genocidal, American-Backed War in Yemen-U.S. Rulers Maneuver as 14 Million Yemenis on Brink of Starvation,, November 26, 2018.  [back]

22. The Democrats—An Alternative to Trump? Then Why Is Schmuck Fumer One-Upping the Führer on Jerusalem?,, December 25, 2017.  [back]

23. U.S.-Israeli Massacre Kills 60 Palestinians and Wounds Over 2,700:  Everyone Must Stand Up and Protest Against These Crimes Against Humanity!,, May 14, 2018;, Seven Protesters Killed, Two of Them Children, and 257 Injured at Friday Demonstrations in Gaza, Al Mezan Center For Human Rights, September 29, 2018; Total US Foreign Aid to Israel 1949-Present,  [back]


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