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The altar of national security

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The altar of national security

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss at a June 6 press conference about NSA collection of phone records.

Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Saxby Chambliss at a June 6 press conference about NSA collection of phone records.

The nation bought into the hype when Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008. Many of us believed, for a time, President Obama meant what he said on the campaign trail. We believed, or maybe just hoped, that he really would shake up the system and restore the balance between national security and civil liberties.

The last 24 hours have shown us that he not only failed to live up to his promises, he oversaw the implementation of systems far worse than we could’ve imagined.

Reporters at The Guardian obtained a copy of a secret court order showing the government has collected from Verizon the phone records of millions of ordinary, law-abiding Americans.

The disclosure itself sounds so ridiculous that it’s almost unbelievable. No Senator or Congressman would stand for such a thing, surely.

Scratch that.  Within hours of the disclosure Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, and Saxby Chambliss, R-GA, stood before the nation like mommy and daddy to poo poo our concerns. “Oh, c’mon,” mommy and daddy said. “We’ve been doing that for years!”

We’ve been doing that for years?

That’s supposed to make me feel better about this?

Today was one of those moments where the rest of America realized just how completely out of touch Washington D.C. is with reality. The Obama administration recently told America that the Global War on Terror should end.

GWOT was the go-to justification for many of the surveillance abuses that occurred under the George W. Bush administration. You know, the ones President Obama campaigned against?

And the man who stood in front of America days ago and asked to end GWOT is sanctioning a policy of gathering phone records at will and in secret?

Have you ever tried to get information out of the government? I have. The Freedom of Information Act process is one of the biggest pains in the ass you will ever deal with in your life as an investigative journalist. FOIA requests can take months and sometimes require litigation to resolve.

Yet the government can obtain any private phone record it wants whenever it likes.

When the government has more rights than the people it serves, we are in serious, serious trouble.

It’s not so much that I doubt the motivations of President Bush or President Obama. (OK, I kinda doubted the motivations of President Bush.) I believe it’s inevitable that one day we will elect a truly corrupt human being as president, a villain who would put Mr. Burns from “The Simpsons” to shame. The last thing I need or want is some person like that possessing the power President Obama so casually wields.

Power doesn’t dissipate over time. It grows.

President Obama has lost whatever remained of his credibility. Between the IRS Scandal, Attorney General Eric Holder being Mr. Grabby with journalist phone records and this – this! – it’s clear that the president believes he can do no wrong.

I’ve often found in life that the people who think they can do no wrong end up doing the most wrong. I am dreading what we’ll find out about our government over the next two years. I don’t know if I have enough ibuprofen for this.

I won’t even get into the second shoe dropping today about NSA’s direct access to Facebook, Google accounts etc.

Obama, Feinstein and Chambliss gave Americans a public scolding because we are angry that the freedoms they’re supposed to defend are being stripped away from us. Every right to privacy we have is being sacrificed on the altar of national security.

The government responds to our concerns by telling us we’re being naive and by promising to find the person who leaked this information to the public.

Find them? I say give that person a medal.

Or, better yet, elect that person president.

And do they have any siblings willing to run for U.S. Senate?