Obama making Bush look like a model of restraint
May 15, 2013 11:48 PM | 2240 views | 5 5 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
To a person, probably, most of Barack Obama’s supporters believed — a belief the candidate encouraged — that, if elected, he would rein in “the worst excesses” of President George W. Bush’s national-security strategy (a strategy that actually did an excellent job of keeping us safe in the years after 9/11).

But the opposite has happened.

President Obama has embraced targeted drone assassinations. Bush operatives used waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation techniques” that some — mostly on the left — consider indistinguishable from torture.

Bush fought the eternal White House battle against leaks, but the Valerie Plame leak investigation that led to a single conviction — and that for an offense unrelated to the leak itself — now looks like a door-slamming French farce compared to the Obama administration’s latest stunt.

On Friday, the Associated Press, the U.S.’s largest news-gathering organization, and judging by its coverage, one that could hardly be considered as friendly to conservatives — found out that Obama’s Justice Department had secretly seized two months of its phone records.

The subpoena targeted the cell, office and home phones of six reporters and an editor. In all, at least 20 separate phone lines were monitored in April and May 2012, including the wire service’s New York headquarters, Washington bureau, Hartford, Conn., office and the main number for AP offices in the House press gallery. Potentially, the calls of more than 100 journalists were monitored.

To call this overly broad is to make an understatement.

The Justice Department has strict guidelines for wiretapping members of the press: The investigation must involve a serious crime; the information being sought is vital to the prosecution of the case; the information can be obtained no other way; and the attorney general must give his personal approval, often in writing.

Bush’s Justice Department, despite its alleged ethical lapses, adhered to the guidelines. Obama Attorney General Eric Holder says he played “no direct role” in the AP case. If he played any role at all in the episode, he should resign or be fired by his pal, the president. But don’t hold your breath waiting for either to happen.

Ostensibly, the investigation is to find out who leaked the details of a failed al-Qaida plot to bomb a U.S.-bound airliner last year. But the stated reason in an administration leak investigation is rarely the real reason.

It’s not aimed at the journalists for whom a subpoena is a badge of honor. Instead, it is meant to terrify into silence government employees who might deal with a reporter. The Obama administration relentlessly pursued current and former employees suspected of leaking secret material and prosecuted more of them than all previous administrations combined. (For further examples of this, see how it treated the Benghazi whistleblowers.)

Either Obama knew his administration was bugging the country’s most important news organization; knew that his Internal Revenue Service, at the direction of higher levels than previously disclosed, targeted conservative groups; and that the Benghazi diplomatic facility was dangerously vulnerable — or he didn’t. And the smart money as this is written is on the likelihood that he did.

Maybe exculpatory explanation is still to come. Until then, one way or another, the president is disastrously inept or dangerously misinformed.
Comments
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Comments Silly
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May 30, 2013
The people who have commented on this column seem engaged in willful blindness. Rather than holding the president's administration accountable, they want you to look back to a president who hasn't been in office for years. Corruption is corruption. It's obvious that you are right on in what is written here. If the press is chilled in the manner that targeting journalists will chill it, we will no longer have a free republic. It's that simple. Honest liberals know this.
otter357
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May 20, 2013
I notice you didn't compare the number of wars we got into, the blood and treasure spilled overseas, the number of servicemen deployed, the number of civilians killed, or financial statistics. It seems those would be relevant comparisons in an article that states in the first sentence that it is comparing national security strategy

If you had considered these factors more deserving of paragraphs than the AP wiretapping "scandal", yes, i think Obama has reined in the worst excesses of the well meaning, but disastrous Bush administration's national security strategy.
just sayin
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May 16, 2013
If Obama is actually improving on Bush's "excellent job of keeping us safe" you must be pretty happy with him, huh!
Well let's see
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May 16, 2013
Didn't you run numerous editorials demanding Obama get to the bottom of these leaks? Didn't you realise leaks are made to the press? Didn't you realize the investigation of a leak to the press might involve the press?

A judge approved it and it covered a grand total of seven people?

Wow from all the hoopla made over this, I had thought it was something big!

Obama is indeedly scoring pretty low in my book as of late, but his options here were to ignore

the leak or to investigate it, right?

Investigating the leak seems to be the correct choice, and since your editorial unfocusedly piles it on, so does the tax collector giving extra scrutiny to 501-c-4 organizations that are so anti-tax they name themselves "taxed enough already," and Benghzai ... unsafe? Of course! What IS safe in the middle east? If you want to work there for the danger salary, you take that risk personally. They all got their danger inflated salaries, didn't they? That is why they were there!
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