Liddick: The extinction of privacy in Obama’s America
Ryan Summerlin June 12, 2013
So the Obama administration has been caught red handed using the IRS to target groups with “Patriot” or “Tea” in their names, holding up their applications for not-for-profit status for years, while an identical application from the president’s half-brother sailed through with nary the blink of an eye. We are daily being treated to more details of these targeted intimidations from IRS agents who apparently aren’t too keen on being thrown under the bus to save the boss.
The president’s “subordinates or agents,” to use a legal term of art, have also busied themselves with wiretapping and surveiling reporters and their families; with concocting preposterous stories about the death of our ambassador in Benghazi — later taking steps to make certain Congress would not be able to question those responsible; and with scooping up data on US citizens’ phone calls the way a blue whale gobbles krill.
This should sound familiar to those of a certain age. Each one of these misbehaviors echoes sections of the articles of impeachment drawn up against former President Richard Nixon. Using the IRS to target political enemies is found in article two, section one: “He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavored to … cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”
Surveillance of reporters falls under article two, section two: “…directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office…” Memo to the president: when James Goodale, who defended the New York Times against Richard Nixon thinks your shenanigans are second only to those of Tricky Dick, you might think about drafting apologies, not trying to cast those who object to your thuggish behavior as right-wing nuts. Even an NBC poll indicates that 55 percent of the American public doesn’t trust your administration on this one.
Then there’s the ever-changing story of the Benghazi tragedy, including the final step of making Susan “the video did it” Rice the new National Security Advisor, thus doubly insulating her from pesky congressional inquiries by resorts to both “national security” and “executive privilege.” That fits article one, section one: “Making false or misleading statements to lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States.” And section two: “Withholding relevant and material evidence or information from lawfully authorized investigative officers and employees of the United States.” Also article one, section three: “approving, condoning, acquiescing in, and counseling witnesses with respect to the giving of false or misleading statements to … duly instituted judicial and congressional proceedings.” Or section four: “interfering or endeavoring to interfere with the conduct of investigations by the Department of Justice of the United States, the Federal Bureau of Investigation… and Congressional Committees.”
Snooping on every U.S. citizen who uses Verizon, Google, Facebook and the rest? Get over it. In the words of the president, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then have 100 percent privacy…” This is far from the position of the transient senator who in 2007 decried “the false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide,” but who cares? Not James Clapper, director of the National Security Agency. When asked in a March, 2013 Congressional hearing if his agency collected data on U.S. citizens, he replied “No, sir.” Perhaps the president should have mentioned that we can’t have “100 percent veracity,” either.
Whether or not Mr. Clapper continues to be able to lie to Congress, one thing is now clear: in Obama’s America, one has the right of privacy when planning an abortion, but not when sending an email or making a phone call.
So get ready for more secret letters from secret courts demanding the government get full access to all business and personal records. There were almost two thousand last year. At least a U.S. District Court judge declared the non-disclosure portion of these letters unconstitutional in March, so the recipients can tell their lawyers what they are being asked to hand over.
In 1974, we were a bit more particular about what the government could demand, and do. Article two, section four of the Articles of Impeachment lists “other unlawful activities including … the electronic surveillance of private citizens …”
What are we to make of this? Perhaps that, despite the false indignation, despite the denials, the misdirection, despite the clever words pouring from his teleprompter, it has become increasingly obvious that Barack Obama is not the Left’s Ronald Reagan.
He’s their Richard Nixon.
Summit County resident Morgan Liddick pens a Tuesday column for the Summit Daily News.
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