Hey, Brother, I’ve got a favor to ask…a few, actually:
Would you stop lying to us about attacks on our embassies? Would you start telling us exactly who you are killing with these drone strikes? Would you stop harassing nonprofit organizations whose names you don’t like? Would you stop seizing the telephone records of reporters? Come to think of it, would you stop scooping up records of all telephone calls made in the United States?
Holy shit! What the fuck? (Sorry, this is a situation, it seems to me, that calls for extreme language.)
In a May 23 post, I said, half facetiously that I was shocked and appalled at “the imploding presidency of Barack Obama.”
No longer is it half facetious; I’m completely shocked and thoroughly appalled.
Even though this all-inclusive phone-call sweep has been going on, incredibly, for seven years — before Obama became president — wouldn’t you think that a president who values civil liberties would look at that and say:
“Why are we doing this?”
I’m a lifelong Democrat, but this is a case in which I think it’s appropriate to ask, “What Ronnie do?” I’m talking about the late President Ronald Reagan, who, above all else, was a champion of civil liberties, of American being a nation where you should be able to live without government poking around in your private life.
I can’t help but think that if he were alive and Alzheimer’s free, he would look at the current government wasteland and say, “What the fuck?”
Yesterday, when I first heard about the general, phone-call-records sweep, I thought maybe my gut reaction of repulsion was an overreaction. I’d better wait, I thought, to see what my reliable political compass, The New York Times, had to say.
Thankfully, The Times affirmed my revulsion. The leading editorial in today’s Times is titled “President Obama’s Dragnet.” It is twice as long as the average editorial, and it is so strong that it appears to me it could signal an overall shift against the Obama administration.
Here’s how that editorial begins:
“Within hours of the disclosure that federal authorities routinely collect data on phone calls Americans make, regardless of whether they have any bearing on a counterterrorism investigation, the Obama administration issued the same platitude it has offered every time President Obama has been caught overreaching in the use of his powers: Terrorists are a real menace and you should just trust us to deal with them because we have internal mechanisms (that we are not going to tell you about) to make sure we do not violate your rights.
“Those reassurances have never been persuasive — whether on secret warrants to scoop up a news agency’s phone records or secret orders to kill an American suspected of terrorism — especially coming from a president who once promised transparency and accountability.”
If we can’t rely on the President, who can we rely on? Certainly not that clown James Clapper, the national’s chief intelligence officer, who three months ago told a congressional committee that the National Security Agency was not collecting data on Americans.