“T rust us.” That’s tough to do right now if the request is coming from your government.
From the IRS targeting political opponents, to the Justice Department seizing records of journalists, to the National Security Agency compiling phone call and Internet use data from millions of Americans, it’s almost as though the Obama administration has engaged in an all-out assault of civil liberties.
In the case of the sweeping collection of telephone and Internet data, the judiciary and key members of Congress were complicit.
And it doesn’t help in the trust factor that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper lied in congressional testimony only a week earlier when asked about the data gathering. Or that Attorney General Eric Holder lied when he said he had nothing to do with the decision to treat a reporter as a criminal suspect for doing his job. Or that the Justice Department secretly seized phone records of hundreds of Associated Press reporters in an investigation cloaked in bogus national security claims.
Clapper only fessed up to the fact that the NSA — with approval of the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court and through the Patriot Act — forced telecommunication companies to turn over phone records of millions of Americans after a 29-year-old former IT geek, armed with a few computer classes and a top security clearance, leaked it to the Washington Post and the Guardian, a British newspaper.
The rationale for the massive data sweep — already challenged in court by the American Civil Liberties Union of New York — is the search for terrorists here and abroad. This despite the fact the president recently told us the War on Terror was over.
When it became clear he had no choice, Clapper also confirmed the government got court approval to use a program to scour Internet providers’ records for information.
The president so far has failed miserably at damage control, often denying knowledge.
Faced with what can be viewed at best as a series of damning faux pas or at worst as illegal acts and lies, Obama said: “And if people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress and don’t trust federal judges to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
Indeed we do. These scandals show a government acting against its own citizens. The idea that the buck stops far below leadership levels is ludicrous.
Now, it’s harder to ignore those who preach about the threats of “Big Brother.”
The ACLU lawsuit, for example, says the data sweep “violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy.”
The swirling controversies underscore how far this administration has stretched the limits of credibility, particularly in light of Obama’s heady post election rhetoric pledging the most transparent government ever.
Many Americans already believe the federal government intrudes too far into their private lives and tramples on their constitutional rights. These overreaching practices stretch the law to the breaking point.
It’s time to rein in this unbridled breach of trust.
— Albuquerque Journal