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Emails, Cell Phone Records and “Change”

Posted by Steve Markowitz on June 8, 2013

On nearly a daily basis, reports come out concerning the federal government’s collecting of private information on citizens.  This past week it became public that the government has obtained the phone records of nearly all Americans.  Closely on its heels it was reported that the NSA’s (National Security Agency) has a program called Prism that taps into the servers of the largest Internet providers and tech companies.

The justification for the intrusions on personal liberties is based on national security needs.  While it is clear that danger exists from Islamic terrorists who use the Internet and telephone for communications, it is questionable whether the broad intrusions of the government can be justified.  It is ironic that such broad intrusions did not allow the government to stop the Boston Marathon bombers, even though one had jihadist material posted on the Internet.  In addition, it is difficult to justify these intrusions in light of President Obama’s speech last month that implied that the war on terror is over.

Shortly after the news of the cell phone and Internet snooping went public, President Obama called them “modest intrusions” on American’s privacy.  This is a ludicrous statement.  While the snooping may be justified for national security reasons, they are not modest.

Candidate Obama constantly castigated his predecessor, George W. Bush, for similar civil liberty violations justified under the pretext of national security.  Now he is forced to justify his changing tune saying: “I came in with a healthy skepticism about these programs.  My team evaluated them, we scrubbed them thoroughly, we actually expanded some of the oversight, increased some of the safeguards.  But my assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks.”  He also said:  “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.”

Obama’s comments are less than comforting given his administration’s attack on the press via seizing the AP records and attempting to criminalize a reporter for doing his job.  In addition, its use of the IRS to go after political opponents shows that Chicago politics have indeed gone national.  The polls rightly demonstrate the public’s skepticism.  Since taking office in early 2009, Obama’s honesty rating has dropped over 20%.

While an op-ed in the New York Times compared the current governmental intrusions to those of the Nixon administration, the bulk of the mainstream media’s response has been muted by its long love affair with Barack Obama.  This incestuous relationship between Obama and the media has been a major cause of governmental overreach under this administration.

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