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Contact Lux Libertas
By Arnold Ahlert · Jan. 20, 2014
Three sentences in Obama’s speech defending the necessity of the NSA stood out to me. Let’s examine each one.
“Those of us who hold office in America have a responsibility to our Constitution.” Couldn’t agree more. Unfortunately, America is currently enduring a Chief Executive whose contempt for the Constitution is unprecedented. Exhibit A is ObamaCare. Even as Democrats and the media hectored Americans to accept the healthcare bill as written because it was the “law of the land,” Obama determined that a law passed by Congress and signed by him could be unilaterally “readjusted” to suit his political necessities. He also passed a version of the DREAM Act, unilaterally legalizing illegal aliens when Congress failed to do so. He has composed regulations limiting carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, intending to bypass Congress once again, and use the EPA to impose his worldview by fiat.
And lest anyone think contempt for the Constitution is limited to the president himself, it is useful to remember that Eric Holder is the first Attorney General in the nation’s history to be held in “contempt of Congress” for stonewalling the investigation into the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal. That stonewalling was aided and abetted by Obama himself, who asserted executive privilege to protect Holder. The contradictions inherent in that decision were illuminated by Judge Andrew Napolitano. “If the President was not personally involved, executive privilege does not apply,” he explained. “If the President was personally involved, and they want to argue that fighting drug gangs at the border is a matter of sensitive national security, then they at least have an argument for executive privilege but that would be at odds with what Attorney General Holder has already testified to under oath. Then he’d be in a lot of hot water.”
Only with an honest media and a determined Republican party leading the charge. America is oh-for-two in that regard. And last week, the president double-down on the notion that Congress is little more than an impediment that can be dismissed if they don’t kowtow to enacting his agenda. “But one of the things that I’ll be emphasizing in this meeting is the fact that we are not just going to be waiting for legislation in order to make sure that we’re providing Americans the kind of help that they need,” he said in remarks before a cabinet meeting last Tuesday. “I’ve got a pen and I’ve got a phone.”
It would be useful if he also had a copy of the Constitution.
“I will say that our nation’s defense depends in part on the fidelity of those entrusted with our nation’s secrets.” Again, couldn’t agree more. Yet I wonder how that so-called fidelity squares with such gems as, “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.” Or a timeline that shows the president denying that the attack in Benghazi was a terrorist attack and blaming it on a video, even as declassified testimony released last week reveals that he knew it was a terrorist attack, within an hour and a half after it began.
As for keeping secrets, this is the administration that revealed America’s involvement in the Stuxnet virus compromising Iran’s nuclear program, outed the double agent who prevented another “underwear” bomber from blowing up another jetliner, and gave Hollywood producers classified details about the bin Laden raid. In order to score cheap political points regarding that raid, Vice President Joe Biden betrayed Seal Team 6′s involvement in it. Three months later, 22 members of that elite unit were killed when the Taliban shot down their helicopter in Afghanistan. Grieving family members insist they were placed in unnecessary danger by the recklessness of the Obama administration. A congressional investigation is proceeding, but there can be little doubt that when this administration is faced with a choice between “spiking the football” and preserving our nation’s secrets, preserving our secrets loses.
“After all, the folks at NSA and other intelligence agencies are our neighbors. They’re our friends and family.” Perhaps they are. But those particular labels could be historically applied to the collaborators in every totalitarian regime throughout the course of history. Regimes where neighbors, friends and family betrayed neighbors, friends and family, due to fear, or blinding allegiance to murderous leaders and corrupt political ideologies. Whether one speaks of Nazi Germany, communist Russia, China or Cuba, or even North Korea, where leader Kim Jong Un executed his own uncle in December, the notion that one should be comforted by the fact that one’s fellow Americans can be trusted, simply because they are fellow Americans, is utterly preposterous.
Yet the most preposterous reality regarding the NSA was left unmentioned by the president. While I believe that intelligence gathering with regard to protecting national security is a necessary evil–constrained by strict Constitutional limits and far better oversight than currently exists–no such apparatus can overcome the self-inflicted myopia imposed by political correctness. Major Nidal Hasan was on the radar long before he killed 13 and wounded 32 of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood. Yet the administration refused to act, despite intercepting a series of emails between Hasan and terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki, beginning as early as 2008. Nor did they act before the Boston Marathon was bombed by Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, despite receiving warnings from Russia regarding the latter brother’s increasing radicalization. Would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab and would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad also evaded attention, despite both men being on no-fly lists.
And perhaps most remarkably of all, more than 11 million illegal aliens living in AmericA have also managed to avoid detection. If only one ten thousandth of that total represents illegals WITH jihadist intentions, 1,100 people with the potential to maim or kill Americans remain beneath the radar. And I suspect that comprehensive immigration reform will do little to bring such potential threats “out of the shadows.”
“It is very hard to take President Obama seriously,” wrote National Review’s Andrew McCarthy as part of his well-reasoned effort to defend the NSA. Yet it is precisely that indictment that undermines that well-reasoned argument. In a poll taken last November, 53 percent of Americans contended that President Obama is neither honest or trustworthy. Nonetheless, according to McCarthy, Americans should trust that the NSA is collecting only the kind of metadata that does not invade our privacy – even as it operates under the auspices of what it arguably the most corrupt and opaque administration in the nation’s history. Thus Americans are forced to reconcile the truly odious reality that we may need as much protection from our own government as we do from Islamic terrorists and other enemies of this nation.
That such a reconciliation is necessary is truly astounding – and frightening.
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