J. D. Heyes
June 12, 2013
Political opponents of President Obama witnessed something in early June that they probably thought they would never see – an opinion piece in The New York Times that was highly critical of the president.
Using frank language and making a lucid, cogent argument, the Times‘ editorial excoriated Obama over his administration’s mounting scandals, at one point even declaring that Obama has “lost all credibility” and has abused the power of his office:
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.
Skewing liberal darlings
Such assurances, the NYT editorial said, never had much credibility, especially when you consider the administration’s secret orders to kill American citizens at home and abroad, without a trial, if they were only suspected (and never convicted) of engaging in terrorism. So much, the paper said, for a president “who once promised transparency and accountability.”
This president “has now lost all credibility on this issue,” the paper said, noting that “Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it.”
The Times went onto say that Obama’s actions are precisely why the paper’s editorial staff has long been an opponent of the USA Patriot Act, passed in a rush following the 9/11 attacks by members of Congress – most of whom had not read it (sound familiar?) – because it “was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.”
More from the editorial:
A senior administration official quoted in The Times online Thursday afternoon about the Verizon order offered the lame observation that the information does not include the name of any caller, as though there would be the slightest difficulty in matching numbers to names. He said the information “has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats,” because it allows the government “to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States.”
The goal of preventing terrorist attacks on the U.S. is, of course, noble, but the manner in which the NSA – indeed, the Obama Administration in sum – has carried out this responsibility is not just insulting to American citizens, but to the very Constitution the president swore to uphold.
President merely wielding power he has been given?
The NYT editorial also skewered another liberal darling, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, for her “absurd” defense of the NSA’s actions, in large part because the committee she chairs is supposed to play an intelligence oversight role. And it hammered the panel’s vice chairman, Sen. Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, for making claims about information captured by the surveillance that is, at best, difficult to back up:
The defense of this practice offered by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California, who as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee is supposed to be preventing this sort of overreaching, was absurd. She said on Thursday that the authorities need this information in case someone might become a terrorist in the future. Senator Saxby Chambliss of Georgia, the vice chairman of the committee, said the surveillance has “proved meritorious, because we have gathered significant information on bad guys and only on bad guys over the years.”
But what assurance do we have of that, especially since Ms. Feinstein went on to say that she actually did not know how the data being collected was used?
The point is, as bad as Obama’s abuse of the Constitution may be, it is not entirely his fault. As arrogantly as he wields power, he is only able to do so after generations of successive congresses have shirked their lawmaking and oversight responsibilities while empowering the Executive Branch through the creation of more and more bureaucracy. Obama was, as The Timesasserted, merely exercising the power he had been given.
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This article was posted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 2:03 pm