A new piece from the always-brilliant New York Times is one on how President Obama from his senatorial days to his presidential days shifted his ideology on spying, mostly, as they argue, in a pragmatic sense. That is, once he was in the Oval Office seeing daily intelligence briefings, the notion of curtailing the intelligence agencies seemed unfathomable.
However, this little tidbit should give everyone pause, I believe:
At the same time, aides said Mr. Obama was surprised to learn after leaks by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, just how far the surveillance had gone. “Things seem to have grown at the N.S.A.,” Mr. Plouffe said, citing specifically the tapping of foreign leaders’ telephones. “I think it was disturbing to most people, and I think he found it disturbing.”
Certainly, I get the political calculations involved, like this:
On the other hand, Mr. Obama was acutely aware of the risks of being seen as handcuffing the security agencies. “Whatever reforms he makes, you can be sure if there’s another incident — and the odds are there will be in our history — there’ll be someone on CNN within seconds saying if the president hadn’t hamstrung the intelligence community, this wouldn’t have happened,” Mr. Axelrod said.
I get that, but we’re going to be stuck in that mentality until more politicians, more journalists and especially the American people stand up and say, “Enough is enough.”
Finally, worth touching on is this sickening mentality:
“He’s sitting on the other end of the pen now,” said the former Obama aide. “He has more information than he did then. And he trusts himself to use these powers more than he did the Bush administration.”
This is a sentiment I’ve seen echoed by Obama supporters in the media and whatnot wherein basically, it’s our guy; we trust him, but not that other guy, so who cares what’s happening because our guy is in charge. It’s pretty sickening.
The adage about power, huh? Yada yada.