Green Room

Obama’s “war is over” rhetoric doesn’t match his surveillance push, says …

posted at 11:35 am on June 7, 2013 by

Greg Sargent at the Washington Post.  Greg offers a more sympathetic take than some Democrats on Capitol Hill, but acknowledges that trust in Barack Obama is evaporating:

The news that the National Security Agency is collecting phone records on millions of Americans — along with new revelations that it is also mining data from Internet firms – exposes a basic, glaring contradiction at the heart of Obama’s prosecution of the war on terror. …

The administration is defending the NSA data-mining program by arguing that it does not entail any listening in on calls, even as the government is barred from indiscriminate sifting through the metadata, and sifting is only allowed when there is a “reasonable suspicion” that the “basis for the query is associated with a terrorist organization.” But that doesn’t explain the need for the program — and its legal rationale — to remain shrouded in secrecy. Key questions remain about the extraordinary scope and reach of it, and the degree to which it violates the basic privacy rights of American citizens. Administration officials — and members of Congress — have defended all of this as necessary to continue to defend the nation from terrorism. Whether or not that’s true, the very act of resorting to this defense confirms that the administration is not ready to end this “war” in practice. …

But ultimately, the basic question here is whether Obama actually wants to resolve the contradiction he himself has articulated as a pressing national challenge. He has sought to deal with this contradiction by arguing that we must have a “debate” about the proper security-civil liberties balance. But this effectively casts this as a process that will be resolved at some unforeseen point in the future. What’s more, by reserving the right to continue with an array of aggressive tactics, Obama is also confirming that he sees his own role as “commander in chief” as one that requires him to err on the side of national security over civil liberties when he deems fit, even as he continues to ask us, in effect, to trust him to work towards getting that balance right. That position has become harder to sustain in the wake of the new revelations. And it will be on Obama to prove that he is seriously interested in restoring the proper balance that he himself seems to hold up as the ideal goal.

I think the “trust us” argument is a dead letter now, especially with the new revelations exposing previous denials to Congress as false.

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cmsinaz on June 7, 2013 at 11:38 AM

It’s time to contact our Congressmen and demand they put forth a bill to REPEAL the PATRIOT ACT. We entrusted the Executive Branch with a great deal of power in order to secure our safety. We now realize that we have more to fear from that branch than from terrorists. The Executive Branch can no longer be trusted with that level of power.

Time to contact our Congressmen about repealing.

dominigan on June 7, 2013 at 11:42 AM

It sure helps with the Politcal wars though.

portlandon on June 7, 2013 at 11:50 AM

We now know why O deemed the war on terror to be over, a war on two fronts was becoming unmanageable and conservatives are more of a threat to Teh One than Islamic terrorists.

antipc on June 7, 2013 at 12:08 PM

And teh one calls us racists every day for thinking that the war is NOT over!

PattyJ on June 7, 2013 at 1:48 PM

Well, I’ve NEVER trusted him. Took me one afternoon of research in 2008 to figure out who this guy was politically and what his character was.

TarheelBen on June 7, 2013 at 4:23 PM