Can we trust the government? Should we ever trust the government? How indeed can we trust the government when the government does not trust us? Even if we could, we can’t anymore – because this government has broken that trust.
Obama says: trust the government
The latest storm to break on the Obama administration involves something very personal to each and every one of you. Would it surprise you that the government knows, going back for years:
- How many phone calls you made,
- Whom to, and
- How long you were on the line?
The Guardian (London, England, UK) first reported two days ago that Verizon Communications, the largest telco in America, gave their business records to the National Security Agency. Who stored these in a massive server cluster that can hold five zettabytes of information. That’s five sextillion characters!
The New York Times reported it next. And they were apoplectic. “Dragnet!” screamed their editorial headline. (And they weren’t talking about Jack Webb’s radio and TV shows.) This paragraph sums up where they stand:
The administration has now lost all credibility on this issue. Mr. Obama is proving the truism that the executive branch will use any power it is given and very likely abuse it. That is one reason we have long argued that the Patriot Act, enacted in the heat of fear after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks by members of Congress who mostly had not even read it, was reckless in its assignment of unnecessary and overbroad surveillance powers.
And that’s after they sanitized it. The first draft they published left off the “on this issue” phrase.
Lay aside for the moment that The New York Times was right the first time. Let’s even lay aside that suddenly the Times does not like it when Congress passes a bill that Members do not read before they vote. What the Times says above is damning enough. And one hundred percent correct. Congress did enact the USA-PATRIOT Act before the dust settled at Ground Zero. Members of Congress did not read it with enough care. And that Act does recklessly assign unnecessary and over-broad powers to Big Brother to Watch You. Even its author, Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5th), now knows this.
And the problem goes far beyond one company, or even one way we have to talk over long distances. Every telephone company in America has “come across” to the government. Worse yet, the government has hacked, or else has a back door into, the servers of Google, Facebook, and a host of other companies that serve electronic mail and other content.
So what did de facto President Barack H. Obama have to say for himself? He took one question at a press conference to tout California’s new Obamacare exchange. Someone asked Why Big Brother Is Watching Us. And here is what he said:
If people can’t trust not only the executive branch, but also don’t trust the Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure we’re abiding by the Constitution, due process, and the rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.
Play the embedded video below. Listen for yourselves.
Trust the government? That’s not what he said before!
Sean Hannity told MacKenzie Weinger at Politico.com something we all should remember. If Obama exhorts us to trust the government today, he did not say that before. In fact he said the opposite. He even said he would, as President, tell his Attorney General to review every Executive Order and every policy then in force. They would ask whether each one was faithful to the Constitution, and respected people’s rights. And if not, out!
They never did that review.
The Guardian recently seemed to ask a more chilling question: is the United States government, under Obama, any freer than is the People’s Republic of China? Sure, Americans can at least sign on to the Internet. (You can’t do that in China. Not as you can do here.) But: you can no longer do so in private. The government now knows what searches you run, and how often. And soon, when you write something, it won’t matter whether you wrote it for publication or not. And the President of the PRC “need only point out” that America stands for ideals of freedom (or so it tells the world), while Obama falls short of that ideal.
In that context alone, “trust the government” is very lame. Especially from the same man who said not to trust the government, before he found himself running it.
Trust this government?
The most common excuse that Obama and his apologists make, when someone accuses them of anything, is: “You are taking that out of context!” But this time the context makes the problem worse. News of this massive data vault comes after we learn that:
The ATF bureau ran guns into Mexico, through Arizona and Honduras, just to juice the stats on “gringo guns and Latino deaths.”
The IRS targeted conservative groups, and not liberal groups, for special grief when they filed Form 1024 to seek recognition of tax-exempt status.
The IRS furthermore targeted specific persons who gave money to Obama’s political rivals, or to groups opposing Obama’s agenda.
Attorney General Holder ordered his Department to snoop on reporters, both for the Associated Press and for Fox News. In the latter case he accused a reporter, in writing, of high treason. Whether he said that just to get evidence in another case, or because he really believed a Fox News reporter was betraying his country, doesn’t matter. Neither motive confers honor on this government.
Sean Hannity pointed this out to Politico’s Weinger (see above).
Thomas Jefferson said it best:
A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
And a government, the character of which is thus marked by every act which may define a dictatorship, is not trustworthy.
Trust the government? Barack Obama has got to be kidding.
More than that: we cannot trust the government nearly as far as some of us once did.
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Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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