The NSA domestic spying programs don’t violate the privacy of American citizens, says the Obama administration. And you know who agrees? Dick Cheney, the bête noire of the American left for more than a decade now.
“What information [was collected]?” asked Cheney on Fox News Sunday. “And the answer is phone numbers and who contacted who. But we don’t have any names associated with it. It’s just a big bag of numbers that’s been collected.”
So no big deal then, I guess, despite new reports which indicate that the federal government has given itself permission to listen to your phone calls without a warrant.
When such disparate political figures as Barack Obama and Dick Cheney begin agreeing on a vast new accumulation of power to the federal government, it’s time for American citizens to be wary. Especially considering how little truth they seem willing to tell us about what’s really going on. They say they’re just collecting metadata about phone communications in America – just phone numbers, dates of calls, duration of calls, etc., etc. – yet that’s clearly not true.
They may just be collecting that data, but when they want to listen to a specific citizen’s phone calls they can and do.
Many Republicans seem willing to join with President Obama in defending this spying. Former President George W. Bush has, among others. These Republicans are asking us to put a lot of trust in the government on this matter. Trust that this program only goes as far as they say it does in spying on us. Trust that the data collected in this program is only being used for national security, and not political purposes. Trust that we won’t see the sort of mission creep in the scope of this program that we see in so many other areas of government.
But weren’t we supposed to have that same level of trust in the IRS?
More than just conservatives were angry, and were right to be, when it was revealed that the IRS was targeting conservative groups for additional audits, bureaucratic scrutiny and delays. Conservatives claimed that the scandal at the IRS proved that their suspicions in government are warranted. That government that is too powerful inevitably abuses that power.
So how can conservatives now turn on a dime and claim that the NSA spying program, which asks us to put enormous levels of trust in shadowy intelligence agencies who have unprecedented levels of access to our private lives?
On this issue, conservative need to turn their backs on the likes of Dick Cheney and George W. Bush. They were wrong. Obama is wrong. The NSA spying program represents power the government ought not have.