This is my second re-blog today of an excellent article by Jonathan Turley.
Mr. Turley articulates something I have thought, increasingly, since President Obama’s first term. In the next to last paragraph, he says,
In his press conference, Obama repeated the siren call of all authoritarian figures throughout history: while these powers are great, our motives are benign. So there you have it. The government is promising to better protect you if you just surrender this last measure of privacy. Perhaps it is time. After all, it was Benjamin Franklin who warned that “those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” [Emphasis added]
The powers are indeed great, but the benign nature of the associated motives is far from obvious – to the point of lacking credibility. As the Obama Administration, and the career civil “servants” working under it, incrementally take away our freedoms at some point – and we may well have reached it – the sacrifice of freedom in favor of “security” gets to be over the top.
One can legitimately question whose security is being protected and even enhanced. Is it that of the average citizen, or is it that of governmental entities? Their “freedoms” to do pretty much as they please – with inadequate supervision (at best) and in camera by allegedly neutral parties – have been enhanced commensurately.
Clearly, some level of covert intelligence collection is necessary; the nation does have dangerous enemies but, as shown in recent years, intelligence collection about them has been inept and apparently filtered prior use in service of political, rather than national, interests. Spying on others not national enemies, to serve the political interests of the party in power, has been all encompassing. If the Government had shown, successfully, that it can be trusted reasonably, the recent disclosures would generally have gone unnoticed. It has shown the contrary and the disclosures have been widely noticed.
Now, the question is, “where do we go from here?” Up, down or sideways? Memories are short and there are always useful diversions. Will we focus adequately this time on what is truly in the national interest, or allow our attention to be diverted to more attractive nuisances?
Below is today’s column in USA Today (the print version is a bit shorter). The column looks at the effort of President Barack Obama and his congressional allies to get citizens to give up privacy as they did protections of the free press, due process, and international legal principles on earlier scandals. It is truly the final measure of devotion demanded in what has become a virtual cult of personality.
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