06.21.2013 0

Lies, damn lies and government promises

By Howard Rich

During his first campaign for the presidency, then-candidate Barack Obama issued a sweeping denunciation of George W. Bush’s domestic spying initiatives, claiming his predecessor “(put) forth a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.”

“I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our constitution and our freedom,” Obama vowed. “That means no more illegal wiretapping of American citizens. No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war.”

Obama went on to accuse the Bush administration of “(acting) like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security.”

“It is not,” he emphatically declared. “Our Constitution works.”

Clearly Obama’s faith in the efficacy of the U.S. Constitution has proven to be short-lived — assuming it was ever anything more than political posturing to begin with. Not only did his administration continue Bush’s domestic spying program, it has dramatically expanded these initiatives — leading to this month’s shocking revelation of Orwellian snooping being conducted on all Americans by Obama’s National Security Agency (NSA).

The dimensions of Obama’s spy network are staggering — virtually limitless. According to leaked NSA documents, the government is directly extracting internet search information, phone records, emails, social media posts, live chats, file transfers, online purchases and other personal data from the central servers of the nation’s largest private technology providers. This program — which costs the taxpayers being spied upon an estimated $20 billion a year — funnels all of this information into a network of searchable storage facilities, including a $4 billion, 1.5 million square foot centralized database nearing completion in Utah.

According to one published report, the Utah center represents “the realization of the ‘total information awareness’ program created during the first term of the Bush administration — an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.”

Responding to the latest round of outcry, Obama has once again sought to issue reassuring promises regarding the unprecedented scope of his administration’s Big Brotherism.

“When it comes to telephone calls, nobody is listening to your telephone calls,” Obama said last week, adding that “with respect to the internet and emails, this does not apply to U.S. citizens and it does not apply to people living in the United States.”

Does anybody believe this president anymore? Even the far left editorialists at The New York Times noted how Obama has “lost all credibility on this issue.”

It’s not just “this issue,” though. Remember, this is the same president who vowed never to raise taxes on Americans making less than $250,000, who pledged to cut deficit spending in half during his first term and who promised to lower health care costs and let Americans keep their existing coverage plans if they chose to do so.

Of course Obama’s lies are nothing new. Presidents have been making promises they can’t keep with your money for decades — all in the name of the “greater good” of the people.

In 1971, Richard Nixon vowed to “end the flow of drugs” into the United States by launching a massive federal effort aimed at “literally cutting it off root and branch at the source.” Forty-two years and more than $1 trillion later, this “War on Drugs” has been a disastrous and costly failure.

In 1977, Jimmy Carter created the U.S. Department of Energy — which was supposed to lead America’s drive for energy independence. The following year Carter signed a massive National Energy Act loaded up with “a slew of subsidies and tax incentives for conservation and alternative energy.” Thus began government’s costly love affair with “green energy” — which has led to disastrous taxpayer-funded investments like Solyndra.

In 2000, Bill Clinton’s administration approved $2.4 trillion in mortgage lending to support “affordable housing,” artificially inflating a bubble which later burst with disastrous consequences for taxpayers — and our economy.

In 2003, the administration of George W. Bush accused Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein of harboring weapons of mass destruction and collaborating with the September 11 terrorists — unproven allegations which led to the sacrifice of thousands of America lives and the expenditure of hundreds of billions of tax dollars.

Few would disagree that reduced drug-related violence, greater energy independence and expanded homeownership are admirable goals. But that does not mean their achievement is a proper government function. In fact government intervention in these — and many other areas — has only ballooned our deficits while exacerbating the problems it was supposed to “solve.”

And as for our national security, government intervention abroad continues to stoke anti-American extremism — making us less safe — while we trample on our most basic liberties in the name of pursuing the extremists we provoke.

“No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient,” Obama said years ago. “That is not who we are, and it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists. We will again set an example for the world that the law is not subject to the whim of stubborn rulers and that justice is not arbitrary.”

Obama would be wise at this juncture in history to follow his own advice.

The author is chairman of Americans for Limited Government.

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