By Brent Allen
Wow, wow, wow! That’s all I can say about all the scandals, leaks, and general chicanery surrounding the Obama Administration right now. What’s it been? Like, six months since Obama’s reelection? And it’s been non-stop crisis and chaos ever since.
Things have been a bit crazy on the home-front lately and updates to the blog have been a bit sporadic, but I believe I left off with all the revelations coming out about the IRS Einsatzgruppen singling out Conservative groups for “special treatment.” Of course, we can’t forget about the Joooooos! Gotta throw them in there for intense review via “special unit.” It’s like there’s some sort of sinister entity behind it all. Never let a good scandal go to waste, I guess. Spooky!
Now we find ourselves mired in yet another scandal—the NSA morass. I’ve reserved my judgement until more facts were known about this Snowden character. My eyes and ears are carefully focused on the reactions and responses coming from the Obama Administration.
You know, I was speaking to some friends about this whole Snowden affair and we all agreed it stinks … it just plain stinks. And I’ll tell ya, the hypocrisy over Snowden’s divulgement of state secrets is appalling; and it’s occurring on both sides of the political spectrum.
The biggest hypocrite of all regarding the NSA leak is Barack Hussein Obama himself. After spending years berating and excoriating the Bush Administration over the Patriot Act, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Gitmo, and the whole “war on terror” in general, Obama has expanded the Patriot Act—twice!
Critics of the NSA warrantless surveillance initiatives during the Bush years claimed the administration was using the data to silence its critics.
According to WikiPedia:
“… [T]he Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.”
Naturally, the very same critics of the NSA surveillance activities during the Bush years are more than happy to exonerate the Barack Obama from any nefarious intent to mine all the NSA data for the express purpose of silencing his political foes. Because we all know that Barack Obama et al. would never engage in an abuse of power and employ a federal agency to intimidate and silence their opposition.
It’s really amazing to watch the divergence of opinion regarding Snowden’s actions. There are those on the right-side of the political spectrum who think the guy is a hero. There are others who think Snowden is a traitor. But this stark division of opinion exists on the left too. It’s one of the more divisive issues I’ve seen in a while. People are all over the map on this NSA mess.
I had a bit of a debate with a young man who described himself as a “liberal” regarding this current NSA scandal. Of course, he blamed it all on George W. Bush. I pointed out the majority of fatalities in Afghanistan have occurred on Obama’s watch. Additionally, Obama violated the War Powers Act during the Libyan conflict. There have been some 3,000-plus drone strikes, one of which resulted in the death of an American citizen. The very stuff the left was up in arms over during the Bush years is apparently perfectly acceptable if the left is in charge.
But, as I have experienced many times in “debates” with liberals, none of this gross hypocrisy and unconstitutional behavior by the president and his minions ever seems to make much of an impact.
Although there was one thing that did make an impact. I could almost see the pain in his eyes as I pointed out that Obama has expanded the Patriot Act twice. He looked away, as if to say, “Yeah, Barry, how could you do that?” He didn’t have a rebuttal. That’s because it’s true.
There’s just no denying the audacious hypocrisy of the president and his minions regarding the NSA surveillance program, considering so many of Obama’s media sycophants and supporters railed ad nauseum against similar policies by the Bush Administration for years.
Obama is losing credibility with his base, as current poll numbers clearly reflect. Of course, Obama and crew lost all credibility with me a long time ago. But, more and more, I’m hearing people state the same sentiment—the Obama Administration is losing the trust of the American people.
I think the analogy of a dam getting ready to break is apt. We’re starting to see more and more leaks. And when a leak appears in a dam, it’s a big deal, for it indicates a serious structural flaw. Trying to address a leak in a dam can result in stop-gap measures being taken, which, in effect, only addresses the symptoms of the problem (like the Obama Administration cracking down on whistleblowers). So, a leak may be temporarily stopped, only to find the problem has transferred to other locations, resulting in multiple leaks, further weakening the entire structure of the dam, and dramatically increasing the risk of catastrophic failure.
My big issue with this whole NSA affair is the fact the story first broke on the U.K.’s ultra-lefty TheGuardian web site, not to mention the Washington Post, and was written by avowed Marxist Glenn Greenwald. Furthermore, I’m very reluctant to refer to Edward Snowden as a hero when he’s traveling around the globe, with some 48 laptops full of top secret data in tow, begging for asylum from known enemies of the United States. What are the risks to U.S. national security there? Hmmm? And the usual suspects are coming to Snowden’s defense, like WikiLeaks and Julian Assange.
A great deal of disinformation and misdirection is going on right now on a number of fronts. The level of deception nowadays is off-the-charts. And it’s no different when it comes to Edward Snowden. Terresa Monroe-Hamilton wrote an informative piece on the subject that’s well worth the read. Here’s a snippet:
There is a valid argument that Snowden’s betrayal is a case of Chinese espionage. The Russians are also offering asylum. He is backed and supported by Russia Today, Iranian Press TV and by Al Jazeera. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks fame is also supporting him. George Soros’ Free Press and CODEPINK are right there cheering Snowden on. It’s a who’s who of bad guys on Snowden’s team. But wait, it gets better. Snowden’s story is Swiss cheese for spooks.
Here are a few inconvenient facts on Snowden:The guy is a high school dropout. How did he get a classified position with the NSA?
- He started out at the NSA as a janitor.
- He learned Chinese while at the agency.
- He made a whopping 122k at the NSA (he falsely claimed it was 200k).
- He claimed he broke both legs while in special forces training. Not exactly… He was at Fort Benning when he broke them, while trying to get into the X-Ray program.
- Snowden was at the NSA for three months – count em’ and then tell me how he was promoted from janitor to technical analyst. Really? Don’t think so.
- He was a Ron Paul supporter, but voted twice for Obama.
Now the Obama Administration seems to be backing down on its previous bluster regarding the seriousness of the NSA leak, simply referring to Snowden as a “29 year-old hacker.” This puts the administration at odds with the the State Department. It’s really quite a bizarre reaction by the White House, if you ask me.
My views on legislation like the Patriot Act have evolved, for lack of a better term. That means I’m leaning more libertarian on this issue. I happen to be a big believer in what Ben Franklin so eloquently stated:
“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”
—Ben Franklin, Pennsylvania Assembly: Reply to the Governor, Tue, Nov 11, 1755
Following the horrific events of 9/11, it did not surprise me that the Bush Administration was looking for ways to counter any future terrorist threats. At the time, I just didn’t give a lot of thought to the Patriot Act legislation. I admit this is not necessarily a good thing. I’m just being honest.
I also thought it was good, at the time, that there should be improved inter-agency communications between intelligence services. But I was unsure whether creating another giant bureaucracy—namely, the Department of Homeland Defense (DHS)—would provide the cure. So, I was left scratching my head.
Additionally, regarding the mass surveillance of U.S. citizens, I had been aware for quite some time of the allegations that our government (and others) was collecting massive amounts of communications data in centralized digital repositories. The revelations by Snowden on the NSA surveillance program did come as a complete shock to me. And I’m a bit surprised it has come as a shock to so many now.
The growing concern for many people I know is just how much power should the federal government be allowed to wield. Should it be unchecked power? To whom is an agency like the NSA ultimately accountable to?
With the controversy surrounding the use of the IRS and other federal agencies to intimidate and disenfranchise the political enemies of the president, it’s no wonder many are concerned this present administration would have no problem data-mining the NSA communications data for nefarious political purposes. It wouldn’t surprise me if they already have. I don’t trust them as far as I can throw them.
For me, what this really is boiling down to is a Fourth Amendment issue …
Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Fourth Amendment is clear in stating that the private citizen is to be secure in their “papers, and effects.” Since we live in digital age, much of our “papers, and effects” are electronic files that exist on our computers and related devices. If my “papers, and effects” are now electronic files, am I no longer guaranteed protection against unreasonable searches and seizures?
It seems we’re risking a dangerous legal paradigm shift toward assuming individuals are guilty until proven innocent.
Conversely, we should guard against ignoring or diminishing the important work that many do in the intelligence community. The U.S. needs good intelligence on its enemies. And that does require keeping secrets. There are many out there trying to get the bad guy. We should never forget that. Compromising such individuals by leaking sensitive intel could result in their injury or death, or severely threaten the national security of the United States. That should be obvious.
What all of this mess brings me to is the need for limited government. When government agencies are used to bully and intimidate private citizens into towing a party line, that is the quintessential definition of tyranny. And it seems we have only exposed the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Obama’s use of the federal government to get his way—come hell or high-water. But Obama won’t be around forever. The essential need for limited government will far outlast the Obama regime.
If the power of government is allowed to grow unrestrained, then there won’t be any government to limit, because there won’t be any nation left worth governing. It’s still, and will always be, about one word: freedom. The question is, how bad do we want it?